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The most fundamental tools

 
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I am assessing my tools after limping along in my garden with a few 'budget' options for a long time. A spade, rake, fork, trowel, hand fork, saw, some dreadful gloves that rub and get very uncomfortable in the wet and some secateurs. My wife and I each have our own decent secateurs, but otherwise we share just one of each of the rest.

Most are getting pretty tired and need replacing with much higher quality tooling that will last. It would also be nice to be able to work in the garden together. I'd love a Ho-mi after seeing how many applications it has and its relatively cheap. A broadfork (which is a surprisingly expensive thing to get in the UK), a dutch style trowel and a mattock all interest me too. Some might be a 'need' others a 'wish' and as such the cost can escalate fast.

I started making a list, but realised I was ill informed about what was genuinely useful vs a gimmick. As ever with tools its a minefield of information.

My garden is big enough (just shy of an acre), but for now I am thinking about what will make the annual gardens (small), composting and general pruning and maintenance a nicer experience.

I'm generally thinking hand tools, electric or gas powered are no doubt useful, but aren't necessary at this scale. I know it will vary from site to site, but even still there must be fundamentals that most people agree are useful and help progress.

Any particular tools or brands that you love would be great to hear about (especially if they are available in the UK...). I recall seeing an image from Ben Falk a couple of years ago, detailing 10-12 tools that time and again he relied upon in the garden. I can't find it right now, but will link if I do.
 
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I have a broadfork and other assorted digging tools but in all honesty, my shovel, pitchfork, and wheel barrow get 90% of my use.  Money for a really nice one of each of those is money well spent.  I buy the best tools I can afford with the idea of never having to buy another one.  And then take care of them the same way.  

A nice hatchet is very helpful, as is a nice pruning saw.

I bought a Russian flat hoe here: Russian flat hoe  I really like this tool, and I find myself using it more than I thought I would.  It's versatile, cheap, sturdy, and should last a long time.  If you make your own handle as I did, I recommend making a round handle rather than a flat one because the angle I use it at most often doesn't allow you to hold a flat handle well.
 
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MJ,

Recently I have found a grub hoe to be a fantastic tool if you are planning on digging in the ground.  I personally like the 6 inch one from easydigging.com.

However since I am recently using a lot of woodchips I favor the 7 inch hoe (I prefer the fiberglass handle but you do what you think is best) for digging, moving and generally work in the garden. I got mine from prohoe.com and can also be found at rougehoe.com.

Even though each of these are hoes, they can do a substantial amount of earth.  A key to making these work is keeping the cutting edge sharp.  Easydigging.com includes a very nice file with each long handled tool.

Actually I have yet to find a tool from any of these sites that isn’t first rate.  The hoes & rakes are made of heavy forged steel and are nothing like their stamped steel counterparts found at typical big box stores.

Eric
 
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MJ,

Trace has a good point about the Polish/Russian hoe.  I am thinking about getting one myself.

Eric
 
Trace Oswald
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Eric Hanson wrote:easydigging.com



I couldn't agree more Eric.  I have their grub hoe, fork hoe, and pointed hoe.  They are really top notch tools that should last a lifetime.  I find them to be more specialty tools, but if you need a tool like any of these, you couldn't go wrong with them certainly.  I have 200 osage orange trees coming soon for part of my living fence, and these tools will be the ones used to trench a row along my property line for them.  

I didn't check if they were available in the UK or I would have given the brand name.
 
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Eric Hanson wrote:MJ,

Recently I have found a grub hoe to be a fantastic tool if you are planning on digging in the ground.  I personally like the 6 inch one from easydigging.com.

However since I am recently using a lot of woodchips I favor the 7 inch hoe (I prefer the fiberglass handle but you do what you think is best) for digging, moving and generally work in the garden. I got mine from prohoe.com and can also be found at rougehoe.com.

Even though each of these are hoes, they can do a substantial amount of earth.  A key to making these work is keeping the cutting edge sharp.  Easydigging.com includes a very nice file with each long handled tool.

Actually I have yet to find a tool from any of these sites that isn’t first rate.  The hoes & rakes are made of heavy forged steel and are nothing like their stamped steel counterparts found at typical big box stores.

Eric



Great stuff, thanks Eric I'll be sure to check to see what's available here.
 
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Trace Oswald wrote:I have a broadfork and other assorted digging tools but in all honesty, my shovel, pitchfork, and wheel barrow get 90% of my use.  Money for a really nice one of each of those is money well spent.  I buy the best tools I can afford with the idea of never having to buy another one.  And then take care of them the same way.  

A nice hatchet is very helpful, as is a nice pruning saw.

I bought a Russian flat hoe here: Russian flat hoe  I really like this tool, and I find myself using it more than I thought I would.  It's versatile, cheap, sturdy, and should last a long time.  If you make your own handle as I did, I recommend making a round handle rather than a flat one because the angle I use it at most often doesn't allow you to hold a flat handle well.



Thanks Trace - a shovel (or spade as we call it) is one of those that I think needs money spending on it precisely because of its volume of use. If you can just use it without thinking about it, that to me is the sign of a good product or tool.

Interesting, I'd never heard of a Russian flat how before this week and this is the 3rd time its been suggested to me!
 
Eric Hanson
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Trace,

I also have the fork hoe.  That was the last tillage tool before I stopped tilling—ironic as it is an excellent tool.  

Those Osage orange trees will make one fantastic fence line.  I had them around me growing up.  They are kinda ugly trees, but they are the hardest of wood, burn slow and hot and grow quickly.

If you need still more tools, pro hoe and rouge hoe (same tools, different websites) are made from worn agricultural disks.  They are thick, solid and very sharp—seriously you can cut your fingers on these.

Worth a look!

Eric
 
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I have about 1/2 acre vegetable garden and the tools we use most in order (ish) are below
Tools we use most.

Gloves I use the rubber dipped cloth type
Dutch hoe does for 90% of the weeding
Draw hoe For when you haven't weeded quickly enough or hilling potatoes
Hand trowel planting small things, murdering large weeds.
Garden fork digging up all sorts of thing
Rake bed prep
Buckets! You can never have enough
Wheelbarrow you need at least 2
Shovel clearing up! Gets more use with chickens and in the barn than outside
Spade  Digging holes, only really used for planting trees/large plants

And for brush control
Secateurs
Shears
Ratchet loppers
billhook
Battery hedge trimmer
Saw


We also have a Grillo 2 wheel tractor with a rotovator attachment, but that is used once a year to clear beds so it's really not an essensial item.
 
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My raised beds are now 2 ft high.  I find I am using much shorter handled tools for the garden.  My go to is a contraption that has a narrow rake on one side and a broad hole on the other.
 
Eric Hanson
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John,

Wow, I look forward to the day when my beds are 2’ tall.  What are yours made of?  

On a different note, I think I know about the type of tool that you use in the garden.  I have a hand mattock that I got from EasyDigging.com.  I bought mine with a 2’ handle which is great for reaching into my garden.  Since my garden beds are all made of wood chips, the rake end is perfect for digging a little place for a new plant to grow.  It is also great for moving around small piles of mulch.  

Eric
 
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