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What tool can you not live without and why?

 
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Seeing the tool give away by Truly Garden and Loma Creek got me thinking, what garden tool can you not live without and why? I have not come across one particular tool I couldn't live without. I'm wondering if I'm missing out on some really cool tools?
 
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Is there a tool called maulaxeshovelprunerhorihori?  If so, that would let me get through most everything!
 
pollinator
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I think it depends on what you're trying to accomplish in your garden, and how.

I mean, if you're doing no-till, you could use any stick as a planting stick to make holes for your seeds, or even your fingers, but you'd probably do very well with a broad fork to get in under the topsoil to loosen it without inverting the soil structure, the more so if you want to do any gentle amendment, with organic matter or gypsum, for instance.

If you set your garden up around the capabilities of a specific machine, even a walking plow or modern walk-behind garden implements, you might be hard-pressed to manage such a setup should that tool suddenly become unavailable.

Personally and over the long-term, I think permaculture is the tool we cannot live without.

-CK
 
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Good pair of leather garden gloves. Saved my hands numerous times!
 
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Location: 5000' Albuquerque, NM
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First post ever! The tool I use most, is not even a garden tool. It's called a Dasco Pro Nail Puller 15" long x 3" wide. Indestructible. Great for digging, weeding, levering out rocks, measuring 3" holes for planting, making furrows for seed, deconstructing old stuff to harvest wood, pulling out salt-bush thicket, carrying cholla and other cactus, removing buried barbed wire, wedging up pots, opening pellet bags, readjusting bricks and pavers,...
 
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Amy Gardening wrote:First post ever! The tool I use most, is not even a garden tool. It's called a Dasco Pro Nail Puller 15" long x 3" wide. Indestructible. Great for digging, weeding, levering out rocks, measuring 3" holes for planting, making furrows for seed, deconstructing old stuff to harvest wood, pulling out salt-bush thicket, carrying cholla and other cactus, removing buried barbed wire, wedging up pots, opening pellet bags, readjusting bricks and pavers,...


Thanks Amy.  That is one cool tool..I'm gonna have to get me one :^)
 
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The tool I couldn’t do without in my garden is my Homi. This little Korean hand plow is great for weeding and planting and excels at digging trenches.  It is always by my side when I’m on my knees in the garden.
 
pollinator
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I guess I'm a basic gal, if I have a good shovel, metal rake, my rose pruners, loppers, and a saw I can accomplish just about any job that needs to get done.  
 
master steward
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I only have a few tools that are used frequently in the garden.  They're a flexible tub, watering can, fiskars pruning snips and a manure fork for the compost pile.  Of those I probably couldn't live without the watering can.
 
pollinator
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I think I'm going to go with a good pair of leather gloves like @Bren Doyle said.  
 
gardener
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I'm struggling between my shovel, pruning shears, or a 5 gallon bucket.  I'll get back to you guys after I sleep on it!
 
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For me it would have to be my big (3’ x 4’) green garden cart. I have a big lot and I use it to haul tools, newly purchased plants, water in a variety of buckets and pots (even a 100 ft hose won’t reach many areas), etc. Even for shorter distances, it beats having to carry lots of (big) tools or big, heavy things all over the place.
It’s also better than a wheel barrow since it won’t easily tip over when making difficult turns or over tough terrain.
 
gardener
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I have a lot of tools I love, but I think the Cobra Head is the most useful and the one I would miss the most if someone snagged it.


https://www.cobrahead.com/original-weeder-cultivator/
 
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I could not be happier with my hori hori knife accompanied by a good pair of gloves. The knife is essential for No Till Gardening especially when you are a woman of a certain age with a bit of arthritis.
 
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I know that this is not a "garden tool", but I cannot function without my pocket knife, either in the garden or anywhere else.  
.In the garden I  use my knife to cut veggies and even dig out weeds.  I do have to sharpen it alot.
All four of my son's are in construction and pocket knives are part of their lives.  Easy to do Christmas shopping for them!! ;-)
 
gardener
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Dennis Barrow wrote:I know that this is not a "garden tool", but I cannot function without my pocket knife, either in the garden or anywhere else.  
.In the garden I  use my knife to cut veggies and even dig out weeds.  I do have to sharpen it alot.
All four of my son's are in construction and pocket knives are part of their lives.  Easy to do Christmas shopping for them!! ;-)



This is what I was going to say - a good, sturdy, very sharp, pocket knife! It's always handy, and with a good knife you can trust, you can do all sorts of things. I think they're the most versatile tool in the armory.
 
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This is probably gonna sound insane but I have a few nice wooden handled steak knives in my garden shed and I find them so useful as a multi purpose tool. I can whittle with them, I can cut twine, I can mark lines on wood to be cut, I've cut suckers off a tree with it, it's great for harvesting herbs from the herb spiral, I can make cuts in tough seeds to help with germination, I can use it as a screwdriver, the handle is heavy enough to use as a light hammer for tapping small pins and nails in, when spun it drills holes in the bottom of plant pots, I even made my first compost bin with it by drilling holes all round the sides of a large black plastic bin I found (that took an afternoon haha).
I've stripped electrical wire with it before, I've scraped flecks of concrete off an old window with it, it really is my go to multipurpose tool. It might be because I've been a chef since I was 16 but a knife can do just about anything... Within reason. And the steak knives I have are tramontia, very strong slightly flexible blade with a deep sharp serration, and a heavy duty wooden handle. The tang runs solidly all the way to the base of the knife. I love them.
Wooden-handled-steak-knife.jpg
Wooden handled steak knife
Wooden handled steak knife
 
pollinator
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I have to agree with gloves, and I have a few pairs I use for different tasks and at different times of the year. During winter, I love a thick pair of waterproof gloves, especially when handling wet materials, or watering livestock. When it's warmer I prefer something lightweight, tighter fitting, and breathable to protect my hands when digging in wood chips, handling brush, or working on fencing.

A headlamp is awesome during the seasons with shorter days. With so much to do in the evenings it's nice to be able to see after dark, while still having both hands free.

Clippers and hand tools are also important to me. I'm always taking cuttings to root, or clipping off damaged/dead growth on various plants, and having a handheld trowel, cultivator, and spade nearby is great when I get the random urge to dig up worms, break up compacted soil, or work around smaller plants.

Finally, my scuffle hoe has been a lifesaver for my back. Instead of spending hours removing the invading crabgrass, spurge, and ragweed by pulling or chop/drop, I just spend a few minutes running the scuffle hoe over the surface by cutting them at root level, and leaving the remains to feed the soil.
 
pollinator
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From a survival perspective, I would have an extremely difficult time without a good knife. With it you can make fire, tool handles, harvest food, pluck splinters, make shelter...etc. On a homestead it is extremely multi functional: without other tools you can prune, harvest, kill, butcher, trim your fingernails, sharpen stakes, cut vinescand brush, start fires.
With a knife, almost any tool can be made (given enough time and skills.)
 
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A good quality sharp pocket knife.
 
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Samuel Mcloughlin wrote:This is probably gonna sound insane but I have a few nice wooden handled steak knives in my garden shed and I find them so useful as a multi purpose tool.


I really like your answer here, Samuel, and all the uses you've found for steak knives in the garage/garden.

My answer would also be gloves, or my hands. I wear gloves to help my hands, but without them my hands would get the job done. Often, I gather tools, then use my hands (gloved or not) instead of the tool!

Edit: I'm going to have to try a hori hori.
 
pollinator
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I simply can't narrow it down to be one tool. When I think of what I use in the gardens on a daily basis, I come up with....
...knife
...homi
...hand pruner

In daily use, the knife helps with harvest, pruning, weed removal, cutting plant ties, etc. The homi is used for harvesting, planting, weed removal, planting. The hand pruner not only nips tough weeds and brush, but also aids in harvesting, creating plant stakes, etc. By the way, I also use gloves daily, but I could actually live without them.

There are several other tools that I wouldn't want to live without, but they don't get used daily. They get used frequently throughout the week-- hand pick, mattock, Mantis tiller, shovel, garden fork, rake, hand saw, fruit picker, hand sickle, sprayer.

Without these tools, plus other equipment (ATV, garden cart, hoses, sump pump, buckets, water barrels, portable generator, drill, sawsall, chainsaw, etc) I wouldn't be able to run my homestead farm by myself. So basically it comes down to that I couldn't live without all of them. I'd be back in the situation of buying my food from a supermarket, and having to have an outside job for income to pay my bills. Vanquish that thought!!! I'd rather be living on this farm!
 
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The tool that I cannot live without is my hori hori knife.  I first became acquainted with the tool last spring when I was working as a volunteer on a native plant survey. Some of the botanists conducting the survey were collecting plants for herbarium specimens. They were using hori hori knives to dig out specimens with deep roots without disturbing the plants around them. I fell in love with the tool, and now I almost never go out in the yard without mine.  I use it to plant bulbs (even in frozen ground), to transplant plants, to dig weeds in clay soil, to harvest vegetables, to prune some plants, to loosen rocks in my rock garden so I can rearrange them, etc.  I also take it with me when I am hiking or backpacking. It has many uses.  If you've never used one, get one, or at least borrow one from someone so that you can see how great it is.  Don't borrow mine though--I'm most likely using it!
 
T.J. Stewart
pollinator
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Some people are naming more than just one tool.... that's cheating! LOL  (I'm teasing)

Now that I think about this more, I think that if we were talking about from a survival perspective, I would have to say a good axe.  I'm figuring if I had and axe, I could down trees and make a lot from the wood. Crude shelters, animal traps (which you could then take the skin and make gloves), a spear for protection, fishing pole... the list could go on and on.  

If we are only talking about maintaining a garden space with all other indoor modern conveniences   otherwise, I'd stick with the gloves.  

We play a game similar to this.  I'll post it in a separate post.
 
eco-innovator
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It sounds like many people still need to discover the awesomeness of the Hori Hori  Thank you for participating in our giveaway!  Here's a coupon:

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T.J. Stewart
pollinator
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My husband has a hori hori knife and I'm always borrowing it!  Maybe I need to find my way on over to your site and have a look see.  :)
 
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I'm going to second everyone that said homi.  I've been using mine for basically everything for two seasons now.  My soil is so rocky that it takes longer to use a regular shovel than it does to just get down on the ground and dig a hole with the homi.  It chops roots and pries rocks, it's great for digging trenches for seeds (I do mostly raised beds/ sheet mulching so a hoe is impractical for me for most applications) or just roughing up soil for planting.  It's great for lifting potatoes/ sweet potatoes.

A close second is my Victorinox floral knife.  I used to be a floral designer so I have a few floating around--I didn't buy them special for gardening.  I use them for whatever needs cutting--stems, string, tape, packaging, whatever.  They're on the expensive side (at least, to me because I'm cheap), but really worth it.
 
author & pollinator
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Interesting thread. The hand tool I seem to reach for most is my trowel. I use it to loosen roots to remove stubborn, unwelcome weeds and to slip new plants into bed.
 
Becca Smith
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S Tonin wrote:I'm going to second everyone that said homi.  I've been using mine for basically everything for two seasons now.  My soil is so rocky that it takes longer to use a regular shovel than it does to just get down on the ground and dig a hole with the homi.  It chops roots and pries rocks, it's great for digging trenches for seeds (I do mostly raised beds/ sheet mulching so a hoe is impractical for me for most applications) or just roughing up soil for planting.  It's great for lifting potatoes/ sweet potatoes.

A close second is my Victorinox floral knife.  I used to be a floral designer so I have a few floating around--I didn't buy them special for gardening.  I use them for whatever needs cutting--stems, string, tape, packaging, whatever.  They're on the expensive side (at least, to me because I'm cheap), but really worth it.



What brand of homi would you recommend?
 
S Tonin
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Becca Smith wrote:What brand of homi would you recommend?



The product page for the exact one I bought has it as "currently unavailable."  This sticker came off of mine (pretty sure it was all in Korean anyway) and there's no other branding on it.  Honestly, mine was either the absolute cheapest or the cheapest one with free shipping at the time.  I don't know if there's a big difference in quality between price points; it's just a piece of forged iron and a handle.  

This one is closest to mine, including the little collar (or whatever that little band of metal is called) at the top of the handle.  I don't know how the collar is going to hold up long term, but it hasn't loosened so far.  They also make them without a collar, but I really don't know if that makes any difference in longevity.  If I were buying another, I'd get one of those two.  I saw a set of three stainless tools with PVC handles, but they're like $50 and I wouldn't trust the welds.  Also, Lee Valley sells a long-handled version.

Hope that helps.
 
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