Dear Readers,

I want to talk about gardening hand tools today.  I’m fairly traditional when it comes to gardening and I like certain hand tools when I tend to my garden; I have my trowel, a hand cultivator and secateurs (hand-held pruners).

Using tools to sow and harvest is certainly not new; from the neolithic period tools have been found for an array of tasks made out of stone, bone, antler etc.  Hunter-gatherer societies utilize digging sticks to harvest tubers easier than digging through the earth with your bare hands and other handmade tools from the similar materials as our ancestors thousands of years ago.

As the years progressed and we learned to forge metal objects and hone the art of metalworking, humans adapted and improved tools for the tasks of farming and growing.  For example, the Romans pruned shrubs with a scythe-like knife, today we use secateurs, long-handled pruners or loppers and pruning saws.

Gardening tools come in a variety of sizes, shapes, man-powered, electric or gas (petrol) powered today.  Whilst JimJim favors his trusty rotovator/tiller to dig over the plot, I would prefer digging with a spade (shovel)

I bought gardening hand tools which were the cheapest which the store had to offer and after using them only once, the metal had bent out of shape when digging a small hole in clay soil to transplant a small plant I had bought.

I had lovely wooden handled gardening hand tools and larger gardening tools in England, some of which were antique but I unfortunately had to leave them behind when I moved to the US.  I keep striving to find solid wooden handled gardening hand tools without the foam grips and with high quality forged steel which can cope with digging in heavy soil.

Gardening Hand Tools

Gardening Hand Tools

The above image shows the red handled poor quality hand trowel which I bought and the new plastic grip trowel I recently bought.  JimJim showed me how to test the metal of the tools to see if they will bend by wedging the end into the metal mesh then pressing on it,  I’m not entirely sure the staff in the store would agree with that test but so far the new trowel is holding up well with the bent one now relegated to poop scooping.

The hand trowel is probably my most used gardening hand tool; I use it to dig holes for transplanting seedlings or plants in the garden and in pots or containers.  I also use it to back-fill with soil where necessary.  When selecting a hand trowel, it is a good idea to invest in a good quality one made from carbon-steel with a solid join to the handle.

Hand cultivator

Hand cultivator

The hand cultivator is in place of a gardening hand fork I had back in England; I use the cultivator to break up lumps in the soil or containers before planting.  It is quite useful in breaking up root-balls from dead plants before they get chucked in the compost heap.

JimJim's trusty hand pruners

JimJim’s trusty hand pruners

The secateurs (hand held pruners here in the US) are my second most used gardening hand tool and usually come in two types, anvil and double action.  I have double action secateurs here in the US and I shelled out for ones with a good cutting edge.  The anvil secateurs are reliable and quite reasonably priced and can carry out a multitude of cutting tasks in the garden.  Double action secateurs area little nicer to handle in my opinion, especially when pruning a lot of fruit bushes, trees or shrubs in one go.  When selecting a pair of secateurs, select a pair that can cope with a range of cutting diameters of stems that you will be working on and make sure they have a good safety catch.

With all hand gardening tools, a little bit of maintenance is needed to keep them in good working order; clean off the dirt, sharpen cutting edges and a polish of oil will prevent them going rusty.

What are your most used gardening hand tools?