Choosing Garden Tools
Very few tools are necessary for a small garden. It is better
to buy a few simple, high-grade tools that will serve well for
many years than equipment that is poorly designed or made of cheap
or low-grade materials that will not last.
In most instances, the only tools needed are a spade or spading
fork, a steel bow rake, a 7-inch common hoe, a strong cord for
laying off rows, a wheelbarrow, and a garden hose long enough to
water all parts of the garden. A trowel can be useful in
transplanting, but it is not essential. If the soil is properly
prepared, plants can be set more easily with the hands alone than
with a trowel.
For gardens that are from 2,000 to 4,000 square feet, a wheel
hoe is very useful because it can be used for most work usually
done with a common hoe and with much less effort. The single-wheel
type is probably the easiest to handle and best for use as an
all-purpose wheel hoe. Other styles are available and may be used
The cultivating tools, or attachments, for the wheel hoe should
include one or more of the so called hoe blades. They are best for
weeding and are used more than the cultivator teeth or small plow
usually supplied with a wheel hoe.
For gardens over 4,000 square feet, a rotary garden tiller is
useful in preparing the soil for planting and controlling weeds.
Many gardeners who do little or no farming have the choice of
hiring equipment for garden land preparation or buying their own.
Equipment for hire too often is unavailable when needed, so that a
favorable season for planting may be missed. Country gardeners, in
increasing numbers, are turning to small farm and garden tractors
for land preparation, cultivation, lawn mowing, and hauling
sprayers in gardens and orchards.
Those who garden every year and who have large homesteads
usually find this equipment a good investment. The size and type
of equipment needed depend on the amount of work to be done, the
contour of the land, and the character of the soil. For
cultivating and other light work a 2- to 3-horsepower tractor is
used. If plowing or other heavy work is involved, a larger tractor
is desirable. Modern outfits of this size are well adapted to
cultivating small areas. A medium-size tractor suitable for
cultivating a large garden can also be used for plowing.
The rotary tiller, which is capable of preparing light to
medium soils for planting in one operation, has been widely
adopted by gardeners who have such soils. In the hands of a
careful operator and on land that is not too hard and heavy and is
reasonably free from stones, roots, and other obstructions, this
machine has many desirable features. It can be adjusted to
cultivate very shallowly or to plow the soil and fit it for
planting. Tools such as sweeps may be attached, thereby adapting
the machine to straddle-row cultivating.
Use of well-adapted implements in preparing garden land greatly
lessens the work required in cultivating. Clean, sharp, high-grade
tools greatly lessen garden labor. For larger gardens, a
wheel-type hand fertilizer distributor, a sprayer or duster
(preferably a wheelbarrow type power sprayer), and a seed drill
are generally profitable. Minor tools include two pointed iron
stakes and weeders.
If sufficient water is available, irrigation equipment is
necessary in many areas and highly desirable in nearly all
gardens. Furrow application requires careful planning and laying
out of the garden area and precise handling of the soil to insure
even distribution of water.
Overhead pipes with nozzles at short intervals, temporary lines
of lightweight pipe with rotating sprinklers, and porous hose laid
along the rows are extensively used. The most common practice is
to use a length or two of garden hose, with or without sprinklers,
fed by faucets on temporary or permanent lines of pipe through the
In winter, when there is little heat from the sun, little water
is used by plants so irrigation is not needed in most areas.
However, in summer, rainfall is usually inadequate and irrigation
is essential for maximum production.
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