What are your favorite gardening tools?

This is relevant to landrace gardening because it’s relevant to what growing habits we’re adapting our plants to! I’m curious about what kinds of tools most of us use or don’t use.

These are all the gardening tools I consistently use that spring to mind.

  • A shovel, for obvious reasons.
  • A broadfork, which is amazingly awesome for digging out rocks and weed roots. It’s SO GOOD.
  • A little hand-held gardening spade, which I mainly use to harvest stubborn root crops or dig a hole to put in transplants (when I can be bothered to make transplants). I also occasionally use a tablespoon for the same purpose.
  • A pair of ordinary kitchen scissors, which I use to chop off leaves to eat.
  • A pair of “giant scissors,” a.k.a. gardening shears, which I use to take down anything big that I want to come down. For instance, I use it to lop off zucchini leaves that have powdery mildew.
  • A pair of secateurs, which I use to prune tree branches, and also to cut through the stems of squash fruits in order to harvest them.
  • PVC pipes and connectors, which I use to make DIY hoophouses to extend my growing season. Greenhouse plastic for the same purpose.
  • Milk jugs and soda bottles to hold small amounts of water for irrigating, and a watering can to pour it into to use.
  • Big IBC totes to hold my stored rainwater, as well as a few small rain barrels. And a children’s wading pool. And buckets. Anything I can get any rainwater into.
  • Soaker hoses, because it’s the most efficient way to irrigate.
  • I have a hoe, which I use very rarely. And a rake, which I use only in fall. I use it along with one of my rain barrels (which is actually a large trash can) to gather up autumn leaves and dump them into my garden.
  • And a grow light indoors, with various tupperwares and lids to start seeds in if I really need to.

I think that’s all I use. Nothing fancy or expensive except for my broadfork, which is amazing, and took me a long time to decide to invest in it, and I’m so glad I did.

How about you?

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This handheld thing, 7-gallon salad bowl, scissors

Wheelbarrow in summer, calf sled after snow
Pickaxe (both adze side and pick side)
Five gallon buckets
Counter-rotating tiller
Felco pruners
Ratchet loppers
Handheld hedging shears (when I grow enough grain I’ll get a scythe, but in the meantime)
D-handled spading fork
I do own a D-handled shovel and use it occasionally
Anti-crow floating row cover
Tarps and dairy crates
Too many hoses, a thumb, and an oscillating sprinkler
Stake flags

Grow lights (mostly sunblasters)
4x strength flats
Scavenged 4" pots (I get dead plants from the grocery store when they over or under water, and save them)

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That handheld thing looks cool. What do you use it for?

Everything. Weeding, cultivating, mounding, shaping, root harvesting, seed furrows, transplanting, loosening bales of potting soil or hard clay, knocking holes in things.

Nice! It’s lovely to have a super-useful default tool.

I carry an old builders pouch on me with in it shears, a five fingered fork, a long but thin hand shovel to give room for deeprooting transplants and a hori-hori knife. A hand-held serated saw/shovel.
And to plant and move seedling trees i use a socalled trench or drain shovel. Narrow long blade to “effortlessly” dig deep holes quickly.
I own four wheelbarrels.

A wheelbarrow seems like it would be really useful. I don’t have one, but it’s on my list of things to try if I can find one that isn’t expensive.

I have two of these, Rubbermaid cart
I had no idea how much they cost until just now! I found one by the river after a flood and one at a yard sale for 20 bucks. I haul everything from compost to firewood to water. They are way better than a single wheeled wheelbarrow.

Maybe I should keep an eye out for wheelbarrows at yard sales! That’s a good idea. I’ve kept an eye out at the thrift store near my house, but I haven’t seen one yet. It could happen, though! When my shovel broke, I was able to find a new one for cheap there, yay!

Wheelbarrows with just the one wheel in the front and the handles that stick out the back although probably much cheaper, are very poor substitutes for one of those carts. These carts are very well balanced, they don’t tip from side to side, you can pull or push a load, they maneuver easily. I don’t know what they are made of, but I’ve had the one I found by the river for 25 years.

My primary garden tools are a shove, a hoe, a rake and a hand trowel. I have several of each, some I’ve had for more than fifty years and are basically just keepsakes now. Whenever I see a good one at a yard sale or flea market, I snap it up. I don’t have different ones for different uses so much as I like to keep a supply of spares. Shovels and hoes eventually wear down from sharpening, a sharp tool saves a lot of work. When I put them up in the fall, I treat the handles and blades with linseed oil.

I also have an antique wheel hoe with multiple blade attachments, but I rarely use it. Also, an assortment of pitch forks and post hole diggers and one of those heavy iron things to drive t-posts.

The best hand tool I’ve ever seen is a modern one I got at Lowes and I’m a bit conflicted about it because it’s made in China. Still, it really is the best I’ve ever seen. It’s heavy stainless steel with serrated edges, all one piece of steel with the handle wrapped in some kind of rubbery plastic.

I have one of these: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Suncast-15-Gal-Portable-Resin-Gray-Lawn-Cart-LC1250L/303269254

I also had one when I lived in the UK. Had to rebuy when I moved back to the US last year. They’re different than a wheelbarrow, obviously, but useful for shifting some things around the garden. I like how stable they are and not much wear and tear on my poor old back. Looks like mine must have cost around $40.

Strictly speaking, it’s not a garden tool, but I have a kitchen scale that I use to weigh harvests. Most years I keep a spreadsheet of what I’ve produced. Helps that I learned the metric system while living in the UK. Much easier to add grams than ounces and pounds, but still useful even if you use imperial measurements.

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As a former landscaper, I have Strong Opinions about wheelbarrows. If they’re wide and shallow they want to tip over, and you’ll hate the idea of a wheelbarrow after day 1. If you’re moving a normal amount of stuff and have wide enough paths I recommend a cart; if you’re moving enough tonnage that the reduction in friction from having a single wheel matters, you have narrow paths, or you need to drop a plank instead of building a whole bridge to get over a ditch or something so the single wheel makes life easier that way, a nice deep bucket starting low for a good center of gravity, and comparatively narrow and tall, is easiest to control.

:laughing: Your experience may vary.


I’ve been looking at wheel hoes to make my seed furrows in spring. I’m not as straight with a mattock as I’d like to be, and I’m straighter with that than with a rake. You make a hole with a hand tool for every seed, or just scatter, though?

I would really like to set up a weighing station this year. Is yours fully indoors then? And near a computer?

I just use a hoe to make my rows and I just eyeball it. They aren’t always perfectly straight or evenly spaced. My beds are range from thirty to fifty feet long and the soil is easily worked. I don’t have to apply much pressure; I just turn the hoe on a corner and drag it for the most part. If I had a bigger garden with much longer beds, I might use the wheel hoe.

Sometimes with something like corn or beans I might just poke the seeds in with a finger or a stick. Little seeds might be broadcast sown and lightly raked in. If I want little seeds like carrots in a row or just to evenly broadcast, I mix them up with some very dry soil or compost so it’s easy to see where they are landing.


That’s all very useful to hear about wheelbarrows! I don’t think I’ve ever used one, so I like the idea in theory, but I have no idea what would actually be good for my needs.

That little Suncast lawn cart looks very handy. That may be a good fit for what I would want to haul around through the garden.

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I have just realized I don’t think I’ve ever gardened in-ground on soil that wasn’t very dense clay! Thank you, that’s neat.

That’s what my soil was too when I got here 25 years ago, It’s much better now.

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I have a small place (garden and house), so yeah, I just weigh everything in the kitchen when I bring it in. Sometimes I put the info straight in my computer, but usually I just keep a bit of paper nearby and jot down a list to enter later.

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