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MASTER GARDENERS COLUMN: Finding your favorite gardening tools

Gardening is labor intensive and having the right tool for the job is so important. My husband is a big believer in having the “proper tool” for a particular job to the point where it has become a bit of a joke in my family. Unfortunately, in his case, having the proper tool for the job has led to a plethora of tools that have only one use, but that’s another tale that I won’t dwell on here!

I decided to poll my fellow Master Gardeners to find out what tools they wouldn’t want to garden without.  It’s always nice to find out what the experts are using.

The hand hoe was a favorite of several Master Gardeners, me included. I have also seen this tool called a Japanese weeder. It can be used with the blade flat to the ground to slice weeds at soil level or turn on its side with the point down to loosen soil around plants or clean out cracks. It is a tough, lightweight tool that is easy to handle around small plants. I am not sure if it’s available locally; otherwise it can be purchased online or at larger garden centers.

Another useful tool and a favorite of a couple of gardeners was the dandelion digger. This tool is great to dig down and get the entire root of a variety of weeds, not only dandelions. It’s also a good tool to use to dig carrots and other root vegetables. Its small width is great for getting between closely planted plants. These diggers are widely available at garden centers.

A small spiral bound notebook and pen was one gardener’s favorite tool. She keeps it in her garden shed and makes note of plants, varieties and seeds that she’s planted and how they performed throughout the gardening season. This is a wonderful idea and keeps our gardening successes and challenges at our fingertips.

The garden scooter is a handy tool especially if your knees are arthritic and getting up and down is difficult. You can work from a seated position minimizing strain on the back and knees. Many have adjustable seats that swivel and have adjustable heights. Some have baskets for tools, seeds and other gardening necessities. The scooter is also handy  for digging night crawlers!

I found a new tool (actually a new take on an old tool) at the Master Gardener workshop in March.  It’s a planting dibble called the Diblet. This tool was designed and produced by a local Bemidji company. A dibble is a tapered cone shaped tool that is used to plant small bulbs, plants and even seeds. The Diblet is made of hard plastic and comes in several bright colors so it won’t get lost in the garden. I have been using mine to transplant seedlings and I love it! Look for this tool to be available in our local garden centers this spring.

These are just a few tools that can make gardening a little easier. It’s time to get our tools from storage and make sure they are cleaned and sharpened for the season ahead.

More horticultural information can be found on the University of Minnesota Extension website:

Master Gardeners are also responding to your horticulture questions on 218-444-7916; call, leaving your name, number and question and one will give you a call.