Weekend Gardening and 5 Tools to Make You More Efficient

My favorite view of the entrance to the potager, through the giant viburnum canopy to the arbor.

I spent an absolutely blissful two days this past weekend working in the potager in remarkably cool temperatures for August. These pleasant conditions continued into the week, when I finished my three day prune (I break it up into an hour or so a day to protect my back and give my glutes a break) of the boxwood hedge surrounding the edible compartments. When the weather is nice, I find it a meditative chore (read more on my philosophy of pruning here), with a great sense of satisfaction at the end, delighting in the perfect orbs and clean lines of the clipped boxwood. Against this definition, the tomatoes look redder, the peppers look perkier, and the basil looks fresher.  A very satisfying end result. BUT, I couldn't do it without my little helpers that dramatically improve my gardening efficiency.  Here are 5 of my favorite garden 'tools' for weekend garden warriors. I have written about and recommended  them before... but they are so important to my efficiency in the garden, I think think they deserve a second look. Oh, they work in the middle of the week too. :)

Collapsible pocket hose with brass end fittings.

 1.  Collapsible Garden Hose with Brass End Fittings from Bed, Bath and Beyond. Find them here.

Do they last more than a season or two? Probably not, but they are SO much more functional and lightweight than traditional rubber hoses that it is worth the time and expense and effort to replace them. But here is a tip. They never go on sale anywhere, and they seem to be the same PRICE every place, so I buy mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and use one of their endless 20% off coupons to get a $29.00 hose for around $23.00.  I also make sure to save the receipt in case it dies or malfunctions during the season. In my experience, the fittings (in brass) are not an issue. But if you aren't mindful about draining them after watering (and sometimes even if you ARE) ...the intense heat of the day may make them ulcerate and explode (yuck) requiring replacement. They are so much more convenient IN EVERY WAY...kinking, weight, portability, storage...that they are more than worth it. During the heat of the summer when  daily hand watering can be a tiresome chore, these hoses are just the ticket.

Watering the root zone of a newly planted boxwood while standing outside the border.
Hose end spray gun set to jet makes watering at a distance a breeze.
Watering a pot long distance in the potager.

2.  Hose End Spray Gun

I have no allegiance to any particular brand...most of us have them in some form or another...but I have FINALLY (I can be a VERY slow learner) learned how to use them more effectively and efficiently. My garden is very densely planted and I have a LOT of container plantings. I am constantly maneuvering myself about the garden to get access for watering. Just this year, I realized I could rotate the setting to full or jet, and the water could travel a good distance without my having
to scale the boxwood hedge in the back, or brick wall in the front to water said pots or window boxes.

Nor do I have to trample through the beds to water the root zone of a newly planted shrub...or knock off aphids or whitefly from a perennial under attack. Particularly helpful if your hose is just a wee bit too short  to reach the area in distress. If you are now thinking 'I can't believe she has gardened all these years and she is JUST now figuring this out' you would be justified in your bemusement. My brain isn't always as efficient as the tools it is required to use. But I am learning.

Small head perennial shovel for planting in tight spaces between shrubs.
My trusty steed, ever at my side in the garden.
3. Small-head perennial shovel

I think I am on my third such shovel, having broken beyond repair a couple of others. (The metal ends now reincarnated as scoops for gravel and compost). Its smaller size makes working in tight spaces much easier than a standard shovel...to navigate and plant between shrubs, against the fence, or scooping soil out of large pots. Lighter weight and a sharper in form I think, and more effective in chiseling through hard pan Oklahoma clay. Smaller size makes for easier storage as well.

4. Inexpensive showerliner to collect clippings and debris

4.  A large piece of plastic, or in my case, a shower curtain liner from the dollar store.

The dollar store part is important, because they are lightweight, thin and cheap. A better quality one will be heavier and not as easy to lift and maneuver in the garden. I drag it along with me as my boxwood clipping progresses along the hedge. It makes clean up all of the sheered leaves a breeze, and short work of putting them in the compost pile. It's valuable for gathering ANY kind of garden debris, and makes for a bigger target than a trash bucket or wheel barrow when pulling out dead plants with abandon, frenzied tree thinning and leaf clean up, or tossing shovelfuls of dirt being excavated for a NEW must-have plant in your garden bed.  (You just HAD to have that one more hydragea didn't you?)
Freshly clipped boxwood hedge in the potager.
Note the absence of boxwood clippings on the flagstone surface.
5.  Large dustpan and whisk broom to sweep up what the tarp didn't catch.

Great for sweeping up soil that washed out of your pots and onto the porch, the granules of fertilizer you spilled on the drive (and want to salvage) or dirt and gravel those infernal squirrels dug out of your carefully composed containers.  So there you have it. My list of must-have tools to tackle those weekend garden chores. Tell me what tools you most value in the garden.

Metal dust pans are more durable and long lasting for heavy garden chores.
Cheery cherry metal dust pan for scooping up debris.
Well worth the time, tools and effort.

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