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Small Garden Tools

 
eco-innovator
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What small garden tools have you purchased recently or have been wanting very badly?  Patrick at Truly Garden is looking for more small garden tools that need to be improved so that he can grow his offerings. :)
 
master steward
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Maybe this is already a thing...  How about a watering can that holds at least 2 gallons, has a removable (replaceable?) rose, the fill hole is easy to pour into with a 5 gallon bucket, you can water with one hand whether it's nearly full or nearly empty, it doesn't rust out too quickly and it has a filter built in so that chunks of stuff won't get into it to plug the rose.

It would probably be too expensive but I thought I'd mention it.

Another tool I use a lot is my Fiskars pruning snips.  They're great for small detailed things like pruning tomatoes, cutting flowers and harvesting cucumbers.  But when I get to something that needs a bit more muscle, but a cake-walk for a bypass pruner, I'm afraid I'll break them so I go get the pruner.  I'm thinking of situations like cutting eggplant stems or other semi-hard pencil sized stems.  So maybe there's room in the world for a small, nimble snipper that has more snort than a Fiskars?
 
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The watering can like Mike mentioned is one of my best friends.  I usually have one full of water by both the front door and the back door.  Those features would be great.

I also use pruning tools a lot.

I find a spade very handy.  I keep one stuck in the garden bed so I can tell if I need to water.  My problem is that the wood handle deteriorates rather quickly since it is always outdoors in the weather and sun. The ones with plastic handles always break.

For weeding, I like a hand rake with a claw.
 
pollinator
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I have a nice, lightweight hedge trimmer (I think it's a black and decker or something) that makes quick and easy work of my rosemary and rose bushes. It gets stuck in our passionflower vines though, and those are too woody for most of my other "light" tools. Something with a motor would save a lot of time and effort (versus having to go in and cut/saw at all of those stems) but most everything I've tried gets caught up on the vines. They're at some strange in-between-point between woody and green/viney that plays havok with a lot of my tools. I've been having to use some manual loppers to cut through the main stems (or as many of them as I can find) and then just drag the entire mess to a corner of the yard where it can decompose.
 
Carolyne Castner
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The tools that's been the most useful in my backyard gardening is an old hand tiller that I found at a second-hand store. It makes quick work of the compacted clay soil and is great for turning compost into the garden beds. I immagine it will also be useful for doing chop and drop when I get ready to start planting my next batch of plants. I have no idea what brand mine is; it's old and worn and all the paint has come off of the wooden handle.
 
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Mike Haasl wrote:Maybe this is already a thing...  How about a watering can that holds at least 2 gallons, has a removable (replaceable?) rose, the fill hole is easy to pour into with a 5 gallon bucket, you can water with one hand whether it's nearly full or nearly empty, it doesn't rust out too quickly and it has a filter built in so that chunks of stuff won't get into it to plug the rose.



I was about to say: a watering can with a filter to make lazy person's compost tea.  Also you'll need to pry the fiskars shears from my cold, dead hands. So Mike wins.
 
pollinator
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I have been LOOKING for a lightweight 3 in 1 trappers tool.  They are a bloody ingenious tool-hammer with digging mattock instead of claws and a tube steel handle that has been cut and forged into a trowel.  Everything you need to transplant in rocky ground, they're made for digging frozen ground.  But they weigh THREE POUNDS.  If you could lighten one up to a pound and a half to two pounds you would have an awesome tool.

Another, easier, tool would be quality forged trowel with a socket handle that would accept a wood handle to make a mini shovel/long handled trowel.
 
master pollinator
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Depending upon one's definition  of tool.  I had an old timer show me, when I was a kid, to fill a 5 gallon bucket with sand. Then pour used motor oil into it.  Once a year, dip the blades of your various garden tools into it.  The sand will held to remove rust, and the oil will provide protection.  I normally do this before I put tools away for the winter.  Of course, clean the tool to remove the oil before working the soil.
 
R Scott
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You can use WVO to be a little greener.  But I think motor oil worked better.
 
Dre Oeschger
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Anne Miller wrote:The watering can like Mike mentioned is one of my best friends.  I usually have one full of water by both the front door and the back door.  Those features would be great.

I also use pruning tools a lot.

I find a spade very handy.  I keep one stuck in the garden bed so I can tell if I need to water.  My problem is that the wood handle deteriorates rather quickly since it is always outdoors in the weather and sun. The ones with plastic handles always break.

For weeding, I like a hand rake with a claw.



I love these ideas!  Keep them coming everyone!  I'm going to make sure that Patrick sees this thread.

Anne,

We have a 3 pc solid cast aluminum hand tool set that I believe would solve your trowel & hand rake needs.  We also have a nice set of bypass pruners.  And both the tool belt and bucket organizer solve a lot of the issues with toting a bunch of tools around.

Check out our brand new Truly Garden Permies Wiki for a peek at our other offerings

~Dre
 
Mike Haasl
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Oh, another one that I struggle to find a good version of...  Hose end sprayer

The ones with the rotating end to go from "spray" to "jet" to "sprinkle" to "full" seem to work for a year or two and fail.  And you can't keep many of them turned on for filling a drum.  Kinda like this (only it seems to have a "stay on" clip):


The old fashioned brass ones you rotate can adjust to all kinds of good patterns and they stay on but you can't turn the flow up and down.  So if the water is on full at the spigot and you want to mist a seedling, the pressure is too strong for it.  Kinda like this:


So I'm not sure if there's a solution out there already or if this is a ripe opportunity.

Perfect nozzle (for me) would:
be able to adjust the flow from zero to full pressure
adjust the pattern from cone to jet with some position where it's "full" with minimal resistance so you can fill a barrel quickly
be able to be turned on and walk away
not get sun damaged and crack
maybe have a rubberized spot to hold it so the cold water doesn't freeze your hand
not snag on the grass or plants as you wind up the hose reel (the ones with triggers have this problem)

I think this might be doable with an old fashioned brass spray nozzle with a flow rate valve built in to go from zero to 100%.  And/or maybe a two piece nozzle where you turn the flow on and off with that valve and then you can unscrew/decouple the rest for full flow barrel filling or screw/snap it on for patterns.
 
gardener
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Small hoes with very lightweight handles. I have a picture on here somewhere; we have an antique one that my grandmother used into her 90s. Because the head is so light, the dowel on it is less than an inch and it only weights a couple pounds at most. I use it for weeding, making small furrows for carrots and other small seeds, and scuffling up the soil over top of seedlings. It works better than my scuffle hoe in my heavy soil.

Really nice edgers. Mine is a semi circle with a great rolled edge for your foot, and I love it for slicing turf or breaking ice in the winter. I have never seen another one like it.

Solid one piece trowels. My favourite trowel is older than me and cast out of a single piece of thick aluminum, handle and all, and is very strong and lightweight

A decent snow shovel. All I seem to be able to buy is plastic ones, and they last maybe a year or two.

Easy to use quick connect hose attachments. I have garden beds all over, and it would be so nice to be able to not drag a heavy hose through my perennials to reach my veggie gardens. They may exist, but I dream of leaving my hose in the veggie garden, pulling it across the grass, and a 2 second connection- to another end of the hose so I can water. Another quick connect to water the gardens at the other end of the house. It would make watering so much less of a chore. If I didnt have to drag 50' of hose around all the time.
 
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John F Dean wrote:Depending upon one's definition  of tool.  I had an old timer show me, when I was a kid, to fill a 5 gallon bucket with sand. Then pour used motor oil into it.  Once a year, dip the blades of your various garden tools into it.  The sand will held to remove rust, and the oil will provide protection.  I normally do this before I put tools away for the winter.  Of course, clean the tool to remove the oil before working the soil.



I have taken this a step further.  I Use a large trash can with about 18 inches of sand with the motor oil mixed in and keep my shovels, hoes, etc in it.  Small hand tools I just "dip" into it after use.
 
pollinator
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It’s not just about the tools but keeping all of them with you. I repurposed one of my kid’s discarded bags into a carry all/man purse/ outdoorsmen’s satchel. In it I keep snips, twine, box cutter, small hatchet, and grafting tools. When I roam I like to be ready. We have a lot of escaped Callery pears on the property so In the spring and fall I’ll take pear tree scions for grafting. In about four years I have good pears to eat on my route.
I also buy a few bags of cheap birdseed in spring to use as cover crop. I toss it out in areas I’m not planning to grow anything. In fall I take my old hand sickle and cut it near ground level. I leave the roots for erosion protection but the rest of it is dried and stored for winter chicken feed.
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Man Purse
Man Purse
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Hand sickle
Hand sickle
 
Scott Stiller
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I can’t forget my grandmother’s brush cutter. There are parts of this blade that a half inch thick! I see those newer ones made out of inferior metal at the store and laugh. I’ve cut down six inch diameter trees with this baby. Really says something about a lifetime of hard work. She was still using this in her seventies. My adult kids can’t even use it.
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Antique brush axe
Antique brush axe
 
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Dramm brass shutoff valve! They're generally around $20 but they don't leak all over the place, they're durable, and have a longer lever for opening and closing. It's one of those tools that I enjoy using every time because it have one job and it does it well!
 
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My landscape coworkers/boss gave me a pair of Felcos over 20 years ago and I use them all the time! I have a japanese style sickle I must admit I have barely used since I got the Hori Hori last year, though I used it a bunch before that. I totally hear the idea of "use the right tool for the job" but I am always open to trying new tools that work on a bunch of jobs.
I would be very interested in a metal watering can with a removable rose, a handle on top and on the side AND a hole in the top that is easy to pour water into from a bucket. I haul water from my stream in buckets to my beds during drought and often spill precious drops while transferring to the watering can.
 
Scott Stiller
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I got this tiny hand sickle just to cut comfrey. The old one I use to cut stalks didn’t work very well.
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Dre Oeschger
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Scott Stiller wrote:It’s not just about the tools but keeping all of them with you. I repurposed one of my kid’s discarded bags into a carry all/man purse/ outdoorsmen’s satchel. In it I keep snips, twine, box cutter, small hatchet, and grafting tools. When I roam I like to be ready. We have a lot of escaped Callery pears on the property so In the spring and fall I’ll take pear tree scions for grafting. In about four years I have good pears to eat on my route.



We have a couple of tool toting options to choose from.  I love how you've repurposed your kids bag!

                       
 
Dre Oeschger
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Catie George wrote:Small hoes with very lightweight handles. I have a picture on here somewhere; we have an antique one that my grandmother used into her 90s. Because the head is so light, the dowel on it is less than an inch and it only weights a couple pounds at most. I use it for weeding, making small furrows for carrots and other small seeds, and scuffling up the soil over top of seedlings. It works better than my scuffle hoe in my heavy soil.



By small, do you mean short handled or lightweight?  There are logistics issues with selling long handled tools online, but another idea on here...

R Scott wrote:Another, easier, tool would be quality forged trowel with a socket handle that would accept a wood handle to make a mini shovel/long handled trowel.



...turned a light bulb on for me.  Maybe we could create a series of small tools that can accept an extension rod?  Patrick is the man for working through the logistics on manufacturing etc., but I love the idea!

Catie George wrote:Solid one piece trowels. My favourite trowel is older than me and cast out of a single piece of thick aluminum, handle and all, and is very strong and lightweight



We have a 3pc Sold Cast Aluminum Hand Tool Set :)  It should be back in stock at the end of August.

     

Catie George wrote:A decent snow shovel. All I seem to be able to buy is plastic ones, and they last maybe a year or two.



This falls into the large item logistical problem, but my wheels are turning on the extension rod possibilities.  The potential problem I see here is that our customers would be choosing their extension rod, and that could easily be a fail point for the tool.

Catie George wrote:Easy to use quick connect hose attachments. I have garden beds all over, and it would be so nice to be able to not drag a heavy hose through my perennials to reach my veggie gardens. They may exist, but I dream of leaving my hose in the veggie garden, pulling it across the grass, and a 2 second connection- to another end of the hose so I can water. Another quick connect to water the gardens at the other end of the house. It would make watering so much less of a chore. If I didnt have to drag 50' of hose around all the time.



This totally exists.  My husband is the king of using quick connects for everything.  :)  
 
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Small garden tools are like kitchen gadgets. When you see them, you just have to get them!!
 
Scott Stiller
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Thanks Dre! I’m completely in on the gardening tote thing. Seeing something that needs done and not have my stuff is insanely irritating. I don’t like wearing more stuff on my hip and having a strap to carry something hands free is important to me. I have to use a walking stick on everything except flat surfaces from now on. Bag in one hand and cane in the other takes a lot of the fun out I’m afraid. Plus I like to look like fat Indiana Jones. 😂
 
Dre Oeschger
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I feel like this......

Philip Honzay wrote:Dramm brass shutoff valve! They're generally around $20 but they don't leak all over the place, they're durable, and have a longer lever for opening and closing. It's one of those tools that I enjoy using every time because it have one job and it does it well!



...might solve this problem...

Mike Haasl wrote:
The old fashioned brass ones you rotate can adjust to all kinds of good patterns and they stay on but you can't turn the flow up and down.  So if the water is on full at the spigot and you want to mist a seedling, the pressure is too strong for it.  Kinda like this:


So I'm not sure if there's a solution out there already or if this is a ripe opportunity.



I like the idea of it being built in though!  :)

 
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Dre Oeschger wrote:What small garden tools have you purchased recently or have been wanting very badly?  Patrick at Truly Garden is looking for more small garden tools that need to be improved so that he can grow his offerings. :)



I would love some reasonably priced interchangeable hoes!

Finding a hand scythe is also difficult it seems. Have companies all but stopped making these?

What makes your tools better than the competitions? Or better yet, why support your business?

Just curious how much of a permit believer and practitioner you are!

Have a great day!
 
Mike Haasl
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Just encountered another opportunity.  Maybe this exists already though...   I was harvesting cut and come again greens.  To collect a salad, a small scissors works.  To run a CSA, the drill powered brush/mower/bag machine works great.  To harvest a pound of greens is in the middle.  Kind of a pain to use the scissors and no where near a large enough job to buy the machine for.

Is there a little sickle or curved scissors or other device that would help you cut greens by the handful so you can harvest efficiently?  I'm guessing before they invented the brush machine people used something.  Was that the thing I should get?  And if so, what was it?  If that thing sucked, could Patrick invent something better?

Beats me, just throwing it out there
 
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Wow...looking and reading about all these very cool tools!
My little gardening bag is pitiful, although, I am grateful to have something, and thanks to my Sister in Law for giving me the gift.
But oh so poorly made plastic and super weak aluminum,  It's more for porch gardening with potting soil.
The shovel blade bended badly when using it in my little plot garden. The hand held raker has tines that are too thick to use, and the plastic clippers are practically useless. Kitchen utensils, a buck knife, and occasionally borrowing my mother's awesome tool set, but still incomplete with some items necessary for an awesome Gardner like my mom, she will be 80 this year!
I made a list of the 10 most awesome tools that I will eventually purchase. Thanks for the info on Truly Garden, as I will be looking there.
I love making great soil...which makes great gardens, which need great tools!🌱🌱🌱
 
Scott Stiller
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Hey Mike. I used to work at a micro green farm. I did all they growing and the owners did all the harvesting. They had bought some micro green harvesters and didn’t like any of them. They ended up using barbers scissors. Super low tech but......
 
Mike Haasl
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Thanks Scott, that's what I'm using now  So it sounds like there is room for a solution for the people cutting enough greens for a road side stand or a large family but not enough for a farmer's market or CSA.
 
Scott Stiller
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They did a decent local business and harvested three times a week. I guess that building a better harvester is how we get rich!
 
Scott Stiller
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I will also do a lot of work while kneeling. If I’m making a small hugelculture I first kneel on my recycled couch cover and pull weeds. Then I’ll start digging with my hand pick. I like getting small spaces ready up close. It’s more of a marathon than a sprint. Once that’s finished I’ll start collecting logs to make the hill. I’ve also make a couple vertical hugelcultures for hops. They work incredibly well!
I’ve had time to see where I want more hugelcultures so when the weather cools I’ll be starting again.
 
Scott Stiller
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Couch cushion and hand pick.
0D89B707-703B-4433-9D22-2064894AF4EA.jpeg
Couch
Couch
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[Thumbnail for 6C3F9854-0C1C-4799-B10C-477B8109C5EE.jpeg]
 
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I have a reel mower that belonged to my paternal grandmother.  It works great but I wish there was a way for it to collect the clippings. That would save me the job of raking them up and transporting them to the compost pile. Not sure if that is even possible, but would be cool though!  -Amy Moran
 
Scott Stiller
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Good morning Amy. I made a grass catcher out of corrugated metal. It worked ok. I may try making one out some old cloth one day.
A0024F6F-C794-408A-A016-B8EF9FFA5057.jpeg
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Dre Oeschger
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Bobby Fallon wrote:

I would love some reasonably priced interchangeable hoes!

Finding a hand scythe is also difficult it seems. Have companies all but stopped making these?

What makes your tools better than the competitions? Or better yet, why support your business?

Just curious how much of a permit believer and practitioner you are!

Have a great day!



Hello Bobby :)  I reached out to Patrick for this one and here was his response:

Patrick Freeburger wrote:Our tools are generally better than our competitors and we offer a 5 year warranty.  We try to offer something extra for the same price as our competitors - sharpening stone, sheath etc.

We use as little plastic as possible in our packaging:



We support Permie kickstarters and have donated over 30 hori horis to Paul's ants.
We donate to trees.org to plant a tree for every product sold - We have planted over 40,000 trees so far.



I would add that he hired me via the permies forum.  My husband attended the PDC at Wheaton Labs, and I will be helping with next year's PTJ.
 
Dre Oeschger
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Mike Haasl wrote:Just encountered another opportunity.  Maybe this exists already though...   I was harvesting cut and come again greens.  To collect a salad, a small scissors works.  To run a CSA, the drill powered brush/mower/bag machine works great.  To harvest a pound of greens is in the middle.  Kind of a pain to use the scissors and no where near a large enough job to buy the machine for.

Is there a little sickle or curved scissors or other device that would help you cut greens by the handful so you can harvest efficiently?  I'm guessing before they invented the brush machine people used something.  Was that the thing I should get?  And if so, what was it?  If that thing sucked, could Patrick invent something better?

Beats me, just throwing it out there



My husband's off the cuff idea was an electric turkey carver.  It sounds like there is a need for a hand scythe/sickle...I will have to do more research.

This thread has turned out great.  I appreciate everyone's ideas!
 
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Scott Stiller wrote:

Couch cushion and hand pick.

I have a Lee Valley "small mattock" which has the same flat blade on one end but 3 "claws" instead of the pick and I find it very handy.  I admit that since I'm a wimp, I tend to have to use it standing up so I can have both hands on the handle, but their picture shows it being used one-handed. I got it's big brother after a *lot* of hassle, but I use it for getting Himalayan Blackberry roots out - if you don't get most of the root out, any bit that's left will send out new shoots 6 mnths to a year later.
 
Jay Angler
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Small scale grain harvesting. Sometimes I like to plant some wheat to give the soil something different for a year. I find cutting the dried wheat stocks fairly tough and haven't found a tool yet that I would say does the job well, and I've tried a couple. For me it would be ideal to be able to grab a handful of stalks in one hand and then cut at the bottom, so the heads stay under control and out of the dirt!
 
Amy Moran
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Scott Stiller wrote:Good morning Amy. I made a grass catcher out of corrugated metal. It worked ok. I may try making one out some old cloth one day.



Ooh, that sure is clever! Id love to see how you make and attach the cloth catcher, if you decide to take that on!
 
Scott Stiller
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I may try that Amy. Thanks for the compliment!
I used my old hand sickle for harvesting rye Jay. It worked decently well. That cheap serrated blade I posted further up works much better.
I was lazy this year and borrowed my neighbor’s extension hedge trimmer. It had a swivel to where I could turn it horizontally at ground level while holding like a string trimmer. I loved it! I’m not going to go buy one for that purpose but I will borrow his for sure.
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