Today's gardening tools are a pleasure to use. They are light weight (the weight is in the tool and not the handle), to make your garden tasks easier.
If you're a container gardener,
your tool needs are simple. All you need are a hand trowel and a watering can fitted with a head pierced with tiny holes, for gentle watering. You could use a dibble too, but this you can improvise from the handle of any old garden tool, or solid stick which has been sharpened to a point.
When gardening outdoors, there are additional tools you will need:
A eultivator-weeder is two handy tools in one and a good investment for a large vegetable garden. The cultivator side, with three sturdy, pointed prongs, loosens the compacted soil between and around plants. Turn it over and you have a light-weight weeder blade which cuts weeds off at soil level.
A spade is used for heavy digging. Standard size is 8 inches wide but other widths are available. Choose a size that isn't too heavy for you to manage. Lifting too big a load can deplete your energy quickly.
Garden line, for laying out straight rows, consists of two sharp stakes connected by heavy string, the length of which must be longer than the rows you plan to sow. This, like the dibble, you can improvise yourself from clothesline, twine, and the like.
A draw hoe is for cutting out weeds and breaking up cmsted earth. The head is about 6 inches wide.
A garden rake is used for leveling the soil, removing stones and, in some cases, thinning.
A gardener's knife has many uses including harvesting crops, cutting flowers, pruning and removing diseased parts from plants. It's the handy helper to carry. Buy a good one and keep it sharp.
First to germinate and grow-when a garden site is cultivated and the soil loosened up are the native plants, the weeds whose seeds have been lying dormant in the soil. Unfortunately, in the race to feast on soil nutrients and be the first to break ground, cultivated seeds come in second to weeds.
In some areas, gardeners have found a way to get a head start on winning this battle with the weeds. They cultivate and prepare the seed bed a couple of weeks—more, if the season permits—before it's needed to plant seeds. The weeds don't know it's a trick and they germinate quickly. The wily gardener then hoes the weeds away just before sowing his vegetable seeds. The result is a lot fewer weed seeds from one season to the next. The weeds become easier to recognize, isolate.
and control—a victory for the vegetable seeds in the struggle for water, nutrients, space, and sun.
During the growing season, hoe shallowly (so as not to disturb roots) and hand-weed close to the plants to keep weeds under control. Control them by frequent cultivation, or use a mulch to keep them from germinating and growing (see page 30).
The reasons for sup|x>rting plants are many: higher crop yields, cleaner fruit that is free of rot (from lying on wet soil), less damage from pests, and more space for other crops. Supporting such plants as tomatoes, cucumbers, and pole beans can enable you to use garden space more effectively. Supports of all kinds can be either purchased or easily made at home.
Small gardens benefit from growing vertical crops. Crops produce a higher yield earlier because more sun reaches a greater leaf and vegetable surface. Each individual plant grown vertically needs between 3 and 5 square feet of ground whereas sprawling plants can have a 16- to 64-foot spread. An ordinarily unused narrow-space along a fence or at the side of a garage is perfect for such vertical plants as peas, beans, squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, melons, gourds, and cucumbers.
The supports themselves can be as simple as a forked tree branch or broomstick driven '/2 foot into the ground, or as elaborate as a purchased galvanized wire fence, galvanized steel rod tomato tower, or tomato cage.
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