Wednesday June 11 2014

Get the right tools for a small garden

A weeder is one of the hand tools you can use

A weeder is one of the hand tools you can use in a small garden to remove weeds from narrow places that you suspect to house snakes. photo by Constance Obonyo 


Maintaining your lawn, garden or container garden can quickly become a slog if all you have is a hoe and a kitchen knife to tackle it. That is why appropriate tools for the different tasks are important.
The range of tools is large, but hand tools are the bare essentials for gardening in small spaces. Charles Akanga, an Information Technologist and an avid gardener, shares his experience.

The hoe
“I have a small garden and hand tools that keep me going. I use a hoe, of course. You need one, unless you are going to confine yourself to container gardening alone.
It is useful for cultivating the soil and for removing young weeds from the garden bed. You can also use it to break up clumps of soil after digging.
Before planting, tilt the hoe at an angle to create long furrows into which your seeds will go.

The trowel
It looks like a small spade. I use it mostly in my flowerbeds and containers; and usually for weeding. It is difficult to weed with a hoe. Sometimes you need to crouch and weed around your hands and knees, but you can’t do that with a hoe.
It is especially useful for planting bulbs, because of the deep narrow holes it can create – into which the bulbs comfortably fit.

The weeder
While a kitchen knife may help you reach down into the soil and prize tap roots out, a weeder does not slice the roots in halves because it is a little blunted, unlike a kitchen knife. Besides, if you use your kitchen knife for weeding, it will eventually become blunt.
Weeders are also helpful when it comes to dealing with weeds in narrow places, especially places you may be suspicious about; around holes that might house snakes.

The cultivator
It looks like a small pitchfork, but with bent prongs. Pitchforks are for gardening. Sometimes the roots of weeds remain in the soil and can obstruct your seeds. If you pull a cultivator through the patch of soil you are about to plant, it usually comes up with those embedded roots.

I also use scissors for removing dead flowers, pruning vines, herbs and other delicate plants.
Shears or secateurs
There are secateurs in many sizes. The ones I have are quite big, because I use them to prune my hedges mostly. I also use them to prune grass off my paths and beds; and also for pruning perennials. This is by no means a complete list of hand gardening tools you would need.
Selecting appropriate tools is a matter of individual choice.
So try them out in the shop or supermarket before you buy. Consider if they are the right size for your hands, whether the handles provide the appropriate grip and the types of activities you will be engaging in, is important.