By Amya Burns. Hand Tools. Published at Saturday, November 11th, 2017 - 19:24:14 PM.
Cultivator - The cultivator comes in two different flavors; long-handled and hand models. The long handled one is better on the back and the schedule, but the small one is the tool of choice around delicate plants and tight spaces, like containers and window boxes. If you are using a draw hoe, the long-handled cultivator is redundant, but if you prefer the faster hoes, it’s a good tool to loosen that baked-on surface layer in the depths of summer. I have both, and they both get a work-out. The hand model usually comes in a set with a trowel (we’ll cover in planting tools) and a long pointy spear with a fork on the end that you have wondered about, I’m sure. Well, it’s an asparagus fork, (for cutting the spears below the soil level) and before you throw it out (no, we don’t all grow asparagus) it does a famous job of digging dandelions and other tap-rooted weeds, so keep it! The other part of cultivating is cutting and pruning, and there is plenty to look at here. The spade may be Tool Numero Uno, but the pruners (or secateurs) run a very close second. There are a lot of different types out there but if you are only going to buy one pair of shears get a really good pair of by-pass cut shears. I have been a big fan of Felco #2’s since I started in the industry; they are the standard in the biz. Replaceable parts and blades mean you can bring these back to new in a few minutes (and we’re not talking about rebuilding a carburetor) so like your spade, you should have these for life.
Garden Spade - Not all garden shovels are created the same. They come with differently shaped blades and handles and not surprisingly are made with different materials as well. Garden spades, for example, have particularly sharp blades which are useful for edging a garden, cutting sod and transplanting plants. Featuring a shorter handle with a D-grip and a blade with a straight, sharp edge, the spades main purpose is to cut clean edges in turf or mulch. You can also use it to chop through small roots and dig shallow, square holes for plants.
Why a Garden Spade is Important - A spade offers more versatility; the narrower blade and shorter handle make it easier for workers in a small garden. The shovel is a better choice for digging that big hole (and for saving your back), but why choose? I have both and suggest you do as well. If you do have that big area or are just establishing a bed, roto-tilling is a suitable method but a quick word here; I do feel that buying a roto-tiller is a good investment. Or you can rent one for the weekend to knock out that new garden makes much more sense, as yearly roto-tilling breaks down the composition of your soil (more so in clay soils). Repeated tilling also brings up weed seed that eventually decays if left in the depths of the soil strata. I till in compost at the end of the season, and thats it for tilling. This may not sound like a big deal but consider crabgrass. It can lay dormant at depths of up to three feet for 100 years, waiting to infest your bed and dive into the lawn.
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