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Kitchen Gardening

Tools of The (Gardening) Trade

Here's your list of required and "oh, I forgot that!" tools for gardening the right way.

Photo/Illustration: Creative Commons (Abby Lanes)

If you want to get your gardening chores done right, with minimal effort and maximum efficiency, you gotta have the right tool. It might mean the difference between missing your favorite reality TV show or not, or more importantly sparing yourself injury. So, without further ado, here is your required “I gotta go back inside to get that one” not-so-ordinary tool list:

1. Shovel – sounds like a no-brainer, but even if you’re using raised beds that don’t require major soil moving anymore, you will need this valuable tool somewhere. If you need a straight edge cut for borders like I do, a sod shovel is also needed. For smaller tasks, you gotta score its smaller cousin, the trowel.

2. Cultivator – Again, you will probably benefit from having both the regular and hand-size versions.

3. Gloves – Prevents blisters, slivers and fire ants from munching on your fingers. You don’t need the most expensive ones in the store, but you do need good quality pairs that fit your hands comfortably. Notice I said “pairs”—yes, you need more than one set.

4. Hose-end spray gun/sprayer – Again, don’t skimp on cost and quality. Get one that’s very comfortable in your hand that you can hold for long periods of time without fatigue. The kind with multiple spray settings (5 minimum) is mandatory.

5. All-purpose storage bucket – Yes, friends, I LOVE my orange Home Depot Homer bucket! Ya gotta have a bucket for weeds, trash collection, soil hauling, tools, water, and of course, freshly-picked produce.

6. A Sharpie® or other permanent marker – Writing on your plant labels was just the beginning…

7. Utility knife – Opens bags of compost, cuts string and plastic, slices cardboard. Remember to keep the blades new and have extras on hand.

8. Hammer – A nicer and less painful alternative to setting tomato stakes with your fist, feet and forehead. Guaranteed.

9. A second (or third) set of shirts, shorts, socks and shoes – I have a dedicated set of gardening clothes that I can feel totally comfortable getting as dirty, smelly and sweaty as I want without guilt.

10. Sunscreen – In the U.S., the American Cancer Society estimates that over 33,000 men and 26,000 women will be diagnosed with melanoma this year. Need I say more?

11. Water – Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Oh, yeah, when you’re done with that, hydrate.

12. Mosquito and bug repellant – I know there are more Earth-friendly options available (which I’m looking into), but until I can find one that works reliably and consistently, the OFF! is still ON me.

13. Allergy medication – I have allergies…BIG TIME. Rather than sharing my drips and sneezes with all of you, I’d much rather prefer to take care of this one ASAP.

14. Tunes – I normally enjoy peace and quiet when I’m doing garden work, but once in a while I have to have an audio diversion. Whether it’s my favorite music or podcasts, I gotta rock while I’m weeding.

15. Outdoor easy chair or bench – After a long hot afternoon tilling, shoveling soil or weeding, my back will tap out quicker than a WWE wrestler. You must allow for frequent breaks in the shade on those long workdays.

Anything else you all can think of?

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