While waiting for a break in this rain and chilly weather, so I can get back outside, I guess its as good a time as any to share some of the things I consider to be treasured gardening accessories and the very basic tools to help the beginner gardener be successful.
Watering Can--I prefer this 2 gallon galvanized metal watering can, which has two handles for stability, and a fine gauge upward rose on the nozzle for a gentle more "rain-like" water flow. It is useful for watering all potted plants, and new transplants.
Spray Bottle--cheap dollar store variety is good enough for misting certain plants in the greenhouse that don't require a whole lot of water, for cleaning dust off of house plant leaves, and for keeping the peat and/or newspaper seed pots moist until the seeds sprout.
Soil Tester--picked up last summer at Lowe's Garden Center. It takes readings on the acidity and moisture of the soil, as well as the amount of light in a certain area. Particularly, this little device gives a good idea if you are watering your plants deeply enough, by reading the moisture through a probe that sticks into the soil down by the roots. Thorough and less often watering for most types of plants is beneficial for good root structure, more so than frequent shallow, light waterings.
3-prong Cultivator & Trowel--a virtual extension of my hands for most of the summer months! After years of using and wearing out the cheap versions of these tools, I finally broke down and bought this matching set last spring as a birthday gift to myself with a gift card and coupon. These True Temper brand tools are extremely durable, and have really comfortable handles which I've discovered is super important when using them as much as I do! The Cultivator's 3 prongs are formed from one piece of forged steel, rather than the center prong being welded on creating a joint that becomes weak and gives way fairly quickly. It's purpose is for scratching up weeds, and keeping the soil loose and aerated. The Trowel of course does the transplanting, and weeding, and mashing the occasional spider or other undesirable creepy crawly that I encounter out there!
Pruners--Fiskers brand are the best and this pair is going on year 6, out living many of its cheaper colleagues. My medium sized clippers are so useful from trimming rose buses, to pruning suckers off the tomato plants, to cutting twine, and last but not least chopping the Giant Tomato Worms in half. (Hopefully we won't have any infestations this year so I won't have to tell you more about those creatures, but if you are interested visit the post that JonOfAllTrades put up last summer concerning the little beasts we found on our tomato crops. http://jonofalltrades.blogspot.com/2010/08/garden-update-sunday-8810.html They are really gross, but kind of cool too, in a gross sort of way!)
Gloves--I wear out several pair in a summer--usually one gets trashed just from installing mulch in the flowerbeds, one for all the other planting and tending, and then another for fall cleanup. Thinner gloves with a rubber or vinyl palm and fingers are my favorite because they allow for better dexterity, but also better protection for my nails (Yah, that's right, nails, farmers can still have nice nails can't they?) I usually try to purchase a bunch if I find them at Family Dollar or Dollar General for around $2 as they can be as much as $6 at Garden Centers or even Walmart.
Boots--To be honest this is my first pair of "garden boots", thanks to my mommy who picked them up for my birthday. You see, usually I end up slipping on my Crocs and tromping out to the garden, and then I end up with very grungy feet! Such a HILLBILLY! Being that we are adding cow manure to the garden this year I guess its a good idea to wear the "disco manure boots" as my husband nicknamed them! They should look great with the overalls and straw hat!? (not so sure you will get to see a picture of my garden outfit, its pretty "farmer-ish" but maybe...we'll see how daring I am feeling later in the season.)
Stay tuned... I will let you know more as soon as I can put these basic tools to work!