New Vegetable Garden Day 13

Vegetable Garden Day 13

Oh dear, running late again. Today’s topic (GardenTribe’s Boot Camp) is pretty basic–TOOLS–, so I’ll skim over it quickly and get on to Day 14.

So about Tools. I’m going to tell you about the tools I use most often, how I use them, and what I think about them.

Shovel. I like a pointy-tipped (“spade”) shovel with a long handle, no “D-handle” at the end. This gives me leverage. But it gives me so much leverage I’m tempted to use it to pry up large rocks in my digging. Which is a good way to break the handle, as I can assure you from experience. Getting a universal sharpener and then using it when needed will make your shovel even better.

Trowel: hand shovel for planting or digging up anything smaller than a gallon pot size. Somewhere lost in the garden is my best one, with a nice rubber handle, not too wide spade, and a really strong “stem”–the section between what you hold and what does the digging. If you’ve ever tried to use a spoon to dig in the garden, you’ll know what happens if that “stem” isn’t strong enough.

Old bread knife. This is one of my favourite tools for doing almost anything. The serrated edge of the bread knife can do all manner of cutting, and since it’s otherwise discarded, you won’t have to sterilize it to cut your bread. One of the things this is really good for is cutting through weed taproots–like dandelion. By inserting the knife close to the root at an angle, you can slice through the root (about 1-2″ deep) and pull up the weed without disturbing the soil too much, nor making a big hole in the space that then has to be filled.

Pruners. I can’t tell you how many pruners I’ve bought over the last decade–it’s many. For two main reasons: I’m not careful to keep my pruners in a place I’ll find them, so again, like with the trowel, somewhere in the garden (likely under the garden by now) is probably at least two sets of pruners. But the other reason is that cheap pruners either fall apart or loose their spring action, or haven’t the strength to cut through anything larger than a pencil, if that. So I’m with Garden Tribe on this: buy a good set of pruners, and don’t cheap out. (They don’t have to be a Cadillac version, just don’t buy them at the dollar store!)

Rake. I do use my garden rake quite a lot, but that’s because I’m always changing my garden spaces, spreading mountains of mulch, and then raking away those mountains of mulch. In small new vegetable garden (with only 5 vegetables crops) you probably won’t need it to start.

Gloves. Lots and lots of gloves. They get dirty, of course, but they also get wet, and working in wet dirty gloves for a long time is hard on the hands. So I have lots of gloves (right now I have a surprising surplus of right handed gloves…), and change them when my hands get uncomfortable. And get gloves that fit: too-long fingers are REALLY inconvenient when you’re trying to pick up little seedlings or do any other fine motor work.

this looks good...

This “one-size-fits-all”  looks good…

Until you see the real size

Until you see the real size

Stay tuned: I’m going to post Day 14 as soon as I write it…

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This Year’s Vegetable Garden

It’s been TOO LOOONG since I last posted, so for the next little while I’m going to flood your inboxes with illustrated info. (Apparently hipsters love alliterations!)

Garden Tribe is currently running a 21-day mini course on successful edible gardening. I’m taking it. And while I’ll be linking to the lessons, I’ll also editorialize here.

The first day (that was yesterday) focuses on What to grow–Taste, Variety, and Value. The bottom line is “What will you and your family eat?” No matter how successful your home-grown kale is, if your family won’t eat it, it was a waste of time and energy. I can’t tell you how much lettuce I’ve grown over the years, but I don’t really like lettuce much, so not only did I waste the space (repeatedly), but I’d neglect the patch and allow it to get too weedy, and subjected myself to the angst/guilt of feeling I should be doing/eating better. I’m not growing lettuce this year. And I’m SO over planting for nutrition. I figure whatever I eat from the garden is more nutritious than the same thing from the grocery story, so I’m already ahead of the game. I’m growing what I’ll eat, not what I should eat…

Broccoli Raab, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, 4 different kinds of tomatoes.

…Broccoli Raab, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, 4 different kinds of tomatoes.

I also like to have things in the garden that make cooking easy. For example, having cilantro at hand means I can make a tasty dish with very few other ingredients. So I like to grow it, rather than having to go the the store to get it fresh (and expensive). And I like to have it located convenient to the kitchen so I don’t have to go far when it’s pouring rain. In fact, I’m trying to keep all my herbs close to the back door.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment.