Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ten Things Every Gardener Needs

All good gardeners, and even most lousy gardeners, know that there are certain tools and items every gardener should keep in his or her garage or gardening shed. While fads come and go and new consumable supplies must be bought every year, some items will always be needed and should be kept on hand permanently. Following are a few tried and true gardening tools and supplies that no gardener should be without.

1. Spade. This might seem painfully obvious, but often the spade is the most overlooked, as well as misplaced, item in the gardener's stash. Make sure your spade is in good working order with the handle securing attached to the shovel. You will use your spade in the garden, as well as for potted plants and when arranging your window boxes.

2. Large Shovel. For the times when the spade is simply too small, make sure you have a regular sized shovel on hand. This is handy when a large potted plant needs to be planted in the garden, or if you decide to dig up a small tree or bush. As with the spade, make sure your shovel is in good working order.

3. Rakes. You will need more than one rake for your gardening: a leaf rake and a bow rake. A leaf rake is usually quite flexible and is best for cleaning out the garden in the fall and the spring. A bow rake has hard, immovable teeth that area good for tilling the soil of the garden or thatching the lawn. Store your rakes upright with the teeth facing up to avoid tripping over them.

4. Watering Can. Although many gardeners will use their garden hose for watering the garden, the potted plants and the window boxes, a watering can can be handy, especially if you are in a hurry. A helpful tip is to fill your watering can the night before you plan to water the garden. Then, the next morning, when it is time to water the pots and the garden, the hose can stay neatly coiled while you go about your watering, and you will not be late for work. Choose a large, plastic watering can for this chore, and if you have many plants or a large garden, two watering cans might be handy.

5. Sprinkler. This is optional, but if your garden is exceptionally large and receives sun for most of the day, you might want to consider letting the sprinkler run on the garden for about twenty minutes each morning before the sun rises. Never water your lawn or garden while the sun is shining on it, as most of the water will evaporate, and the leaves might be burnt from the magnification of the sun through the drops of water.

6. Shelving. Shelves are imperative for a gardener to keep all his or her aforementioned items stored neatly. Wall hooks are also helpful for storing spades, shovels, rakes, and hoes.

7. Work Table. Nothing is more painful that squatting down on the lawn or porch to pot plants or plant seedlings in pots. Consider purchasing a work table. It does not have to be fancy or expensive; a card table will do, or a cheap, plastic lawn table. Use something to save your back from the strain of bending over. And if you choose, use a chair as well so you can sit comfortably while you work on your seedlings.

8. Insect Repellant. Depending on where you live, insects might be more or less of a problem. In many areas, insect repellant must be worn from head to toe to prevent bites and stings from mosquitoes and biting flies. Even if these are not a problem, there are always bees, hornets and yellow jackets nearby, and it is better if they are persuaded not to take a nibble.

9. Gardening Gloves. While it can be fun to work our fingers into fresh, black soil, you will thank yourself later if you protect your hands now. Gardening gloves will not only keep your hands clean, they will keep your skin from drying out and protect your skin and nails from injury.

10. Sun Protection. Always use a hat and sunscreen to protect your face and body from the harmful rays of the sun.

With these tips in mind, come spring, you will be ready and your garden will be waiting.

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