Flamingo Crossing

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Essential garden supplies for a home gardener

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essential garden tools
If you do any gardening at all, you know that there are certain tools which making gardening that much easier. Especially for those of us with limited mobility, the proper tools are essential for a pain-free gardening experience.

Sure, you could just dig around in the dirt with your hands, but why? Having appropriate tools for your task on hand will make gardening even more enjoyable.



Basic garden tools

I would suggest buying specific tools as you find that you need them. No point in buying a large shovel if you aren't digging in the ground, right? If you don't have large trees, you may never need long cutters.

Digging tools

Depending on the scale of your garden, you may or may not need actual digging tools such as shovels and weeding sticks. Larger tools just aren't that useful for container gardening, but they are essential if you are putting plants into the ground.

Cutting tools

Cutting tools are used for cutting away dead, diseased, damaged, and otherwise unwanted branches, stems, and leaves. This not only keeps the plants visually appealing by removing unwanted parts of the plant, it improves overall plant health. It's like giving your plant a haircut.

Select cutting tools appropriate to the size of your plant. You don't need a chainsaw for a miniature cactus, nor a tiny pair of clippers to deal with a giant oak tree. If necessary, have several sizes of clippers from a tiny handheld cutter to telescoping pruners. A pruning saw might be a good choice if you need to do a bit of tree trimming.

Cording and supports

Sometimes a newly planted plant or cutting needs a bit of extra help. Use bamboo supports (even down to barbecue size skewers for small plants) and biodegradable hemp cording or twine to support the plant until it settles in.

Watering

I won't sugar coat it: hand watering requires both time and work. While hose watering may be necessary for those who are watering acreage, a container gardener rarely needs more than a simple bucket and cup of water. This will do the trick to address each plant's water needs individually. A spray bottle would be helpful for those plants which need a daily misting rather than regular deep watering.

Garden gloves

Heavy garden gloves are generally considered a must-have, but I only really use them for bigger tasks like tree pruning. A pair of cheap nitrile gloves may not be puncture-proof, but for day to day container garden maintenance, they work well to keep your hands clean.

Tongs and tweezers

Depending on the size and type of plant and relative scale of your garden, long handled tongs and tweezers may prove useful.

Tweezers are for me essential in placing tiny cuttings in just the right spot in the planter. They are also helpful in removing tiny weeds from tiny pots.

Tongs will keep your hands away from spiky plant parts without the false sense of security that gloves provide. Remember, even roses and berry canes have spikes that will hurt you if you aren't careful when handling them.

Plant tags

A small thing, but essential to garden organization: plant tags. Which plants are in which pots? What's that vine growing up the trellis? Always label your plants before you forget which is which. I recommend a label maker with waterproof tapes to create labels for tags.

Garden storage

Once you have your tools, you will need some place to store them between uses. Consider your tools and the available space when deciding how best to store them.

Shed

If you need to put away the lawn mower and weed whacker, a shed is good storage area to get them out from underfoot. Unless you have bigger tools that can't be stashed in a corner of the garage though, you probably don't need a shed. Small shovels and similar are tools that you can hang on the wall to save space.

Shelving

Even if you do have a shed, you can't just dump everything on the floor and expect to find specific tools when you need them. You need a place to store tools, extra pots, and any bins of extra potting mixes and topdressings in an organized fashion.

Measure your space, then get some stainless steel metal shelving. Most of these type of shelving units are flexible with regards to the height of individual shelf space, so you can customize it to your needs.

Tip #1: Put frequently used things where they are easy to reach. You might hurt yourself hefting that bin of cactus mix from the bottom shelf.

Tip #2: Have an individual scoop for each bin of mix. You don't want peat moss in your horticultural sand.

Tip #3: Add hooks to hang things like a tool storage bucket, wet tools that need to dry out, and brushes for cleaning bird feeders.

Potting bench

essential garden supplies I was potting plants up on the porch railing for a while there. It was not fun. If you have the space, buy or make a potting bench so you have room to work. Remember: function before form. The prettiest potting bench in the world is not helpful if you have to store everything on the work surface.

My "bench" is part of one of those old sectional desks. I used a staple gun to attach oilcloth to the top for an easy-clean work area, then added an old wood crate and some rattan mini-shelves to store small things. The keyboard drawer in the desk is a great place to store smaller trays.

There is enough room underneath the bench for a metal can on casters (regular plain old potting mix) and a wheeled bin of thistle seed for the birds. I can push both containers underneath when they are not in use.

Plant organization

A means to hold and display your plants is critical if you have more than just a few small houseplants. The types of plants you grow in your garden will determine how they can be arranged. Do you have epiphytes that need room for their mounts to hang? Do you have a lot of terrestrial plants such as cactus potted up? Do you need space to start vegetable seeds?

essential garden tools A lot of garden in a small space

Consider the size of your chosen space versus the number of plants you have. Think about possible tiers and shelving configurations for the available space -- and always buy bigger than you think you need. If you are like me, new plants have a habit of "following you home" from the nursery. The number you have at the beginning of the season may increase if your plants gain new friends by the end of the season.

If you have a lot of mounted plants, a frame with steel wire shelving is a good choice. Gardeners with a lot of pots and planters may prefer sturdy plant stands for their garden.

essential garden tools High-light or low-light?

Be sure to allow a large enough footprint to accommodate the light needs of all your plants. High-light plants need to be placed near the perimeter. Low-light plants should be placed toward the interior or behind other plants. If you have a lot of low-light plants, have shade cloth at the ready in case of unseasonal amounts of sunlight.

Easy plant care

Another consideration is access to individual plants. Will you be able to reach all the plants easily to water them? Do you have the proper watering equipment (something with a longer handle or spout) if some will be hard to reach? For those plants which require a shower-type or misting watering system, can you remove their particular pots or mountings to be watered without moving all the other plants?

Tealmermaid's Treasure Grotto
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