Gardening tools have been around in various forms for thousands of years. As humans evolved and began growing plants for food, they needed to clear land, plant seeds, divide large clusters, and remove unwanted sprouts. The earliest tools were made from available stone and wood. Centuries later, with the Bronze Age came new materials to work with and tools that worked better and lasted longer. By the Industrial Revolution, the mass production of steel tools became the norm. And 150 years later, of course, we can get just about any tools we need whenever we need them, made from a rather crazy variety of different materials.
In contemplating one’s own garden, there is a variety of must-have tools that even the most inexperienced among us are probably familiar with: the trowel (that hand-held smaller digger, divider, pryer), a spade (larger and often with a flatter blade for edging, digging, cutting), and a pruner, of course. Most gardeners would also list a wheelbarrow, something to kneel on, tough gardening gloves, a bucket, rake, boots or clogs, and a weeding tool or two.
This last one came as an embarrassing surprise to me. Somehow I’ve lived and sporadically gardened for a handful of decades without knowing that weeding tools existed. How much easier would my weeding efforts have been for the past many summers had I known? And because I will not use any toxic sprays, literally getting my hands on a few of these will save me a heck of a lot of time and holes in my gloves.
The variety of weeding tools rivals the number of weeds that usually found their way into my beginner beds. Many nations have their own versions of weeders. For example, the Japanese hori hori knife is an all-purpose tool, a long, wide knife with which to dig, cut, pry, saw and even measure depth. American weeders include the Cape Cod weeder, daisy grubber, and a soil scoop, among many, many choices to dig out or cut roots, and to get into cracks and edges.
Not coincidentally, my most trusted friends use these tools and were prolific in their praise for their functionality in tackling a diverse range of gardening tasks. Says Nancy, “The green handle is for deep-rooted weeds like dandelions and thistle. The scoop is just that, useful for tilling larger areas, and its point will pull up weeds at same time.”
Armed with the right tools, I might just make my way back to the garden again this summer. Weeds beware.