Having covered the 6 essential gardening tools, I thought it would be helpful to run over some of the other tools I have in my shed and find useful if perhaps not essential.
A measuring stick.
This is a really simple aid to sowing and planting. You take a length of 2″x1″ wood, mine is five feet long, and mark out using an indelible marker or felt tip pen on one side with a half width lines every 6″ and full width lines every foot. On the other side it’s the same but the half width lines are every 4″. When sowing I just lay the stick by the row and I’ve a spacing guide.
A pair of shears
When I grow green manure crops like mustard, these are invaluable for cutting it down. Like my hoe, I keep them sharp. I use a file but if I could find a small sharpening stone that would be even better.
A draw hoe.
Unlike the Dutch hoe, this is great for drawing a drill (shallow trench) when sowing seeds. I don’t find it much use for weeding but it is a bit of a time saver when sowing time comes along.
Pegs and Line
Now this is one of the simplest tools but so useful I would call it essential. I have a purpose made one we picked up in France but you can make your own with two sticks and a length of string, preferably the bright coloured line you can find so you can always see it clearly. This gives a guide for digging and for drawing a row.
A potato fork is just an ordinary fork with flattened tines. In fine soil especially they enable you to lift potatoes that would fall through an ordinary fork. Definitely not an essential, but quite useful if you grow a lot of potatoes.
I picked up mine for £5 from B&Q and it’s really been a better investment than I thought it would be. When moving a load of fine compost or sand with a digging spade it falls off the side but a shovel has upturned sides. I think it halves the time it takes for those jobs.
My pen knife has a 6″ blade and again is useful for many little jobs. I keep it really sharp and when harvesting brassicas it cuts off the outer leaves. Helps when trimming side shoots on tomatoes and provides a cleaning tool for the rotovator blades when grass winds around them. I don’t think you can buy them with this size blade legally now, so the chap on the market told me, but a pen knife is so useful.
This is a hand tool I mainly use on the deep beds. It’s a flat blade on one side and a three tine fork on the other. I use it to loosen soil when weeding, to chop weeds using the hoe, draw drills etc. Invaluable and even saves me going back to the shed for the trowel many times. The first one I got was very cheap but the fork tines bent fairly quickly so I spent a packet on a quality one which will last me out.
I’ve other tools in my allotment shed but they aren’t really gardening tools as such. A tin of WD40, pliers, couple of screwdrivers and hammers all help with those construction jobs we enjoy. I’ve also got the rotovators but that’s a whole other topic.