Every gardener has a few tools they can’t live without. Experts advise new gardeners to invest in quality tools, especially in the South where tough gardening conditions can take a toll. Good tools stand the test of time, but not all good garden tools need be expensive. Following are a few items that six Southern gardening experts identified as “garden products I can’t live without.”
Sharp pruners: Pruners are found in most every gardener’s pocket or tool shed, but unfortunately not all are up to snuff. Hugh Conlon, a retired University of Tennessee horticulture extension specialist, swears by the quality of his Corona #60 Bypass Pruner. “This pruner cuts precisely and sharpens well. It fits a small hand. I use mine daily to trim ‘whatever gets in my way.’”
Good gloves: North Carolina gardener and American Rose Society judge Lynn Hunt is hooked on her Bionic Rose Gloves with long, protective, gauntlet cuffs. “Roses love me. They hug me with thorns. These leather gloves are easy to wear and maneuver in,” she says.
A great shovel: You’ll spend a lot of time with your shovel, so it’s important you are well matched. Rosemary Kautzky of South Carolina has worn out plenty of great shovels. “I like a long-handled shovel as tall as I am for good leverage, with a metal blade step for my foot,” says the 5’6” professional garden photographer. She particularly likes the fiberglass handle of her current shovel from Ames’ Union Tools. “It’s lightweight, the shaft is sized right for a woman’s grip and, so far, I can’t break it,” she adds.
Time and labor savers: Shawn Davis, a Georgia master gardener, says, “The products I can’t live without are mulch and weed preventer to stop weeds, and extended-release fertilizer to feed plants all season. I’m not into maintenance.” Her favorite mulch is leaf compost. She uses Preen Southern Weed Preventer in the bottle with the battery-powered spreader top to block weeds for up to four months per application.
Horticultural spray oil: “In the South, the ground never freezes and the insects don’t die,” says “Garden Mama” Nellie Neal, host of the weekly radio show “Weekend Gardening” broadcast from Jackson, Mississippi. Neal recommends a highly-refined organic oil, Bonide All Seasons Horticultural Spray Oil, to control fungus, white flies, aphids and a variety of garden pests.”
A cordless vacuum: Bill Adams, a former Texas A & M horticultural extension agent who gardens now in Burton, Texas, uses an unusual tool in his vegetable garden. “I have a handheld cordless vac to suck up stinkbugs.” He says it works really well, but warns, “Don’t expect to ever use that stinkbug vac indoors again. It gets pretty stinky, fast.”
Tunes: Lastly, says North Carolina rose expert Lynn Hunt, “I need my wireless speakers. Wherever I’m working I can hook up to ITunes. Patience is one of the important values nature teaches us. But everything goes quicker with music.”