With the growing interest in eating fresh, locally grown produce, many area people are considering gardening for the first time.
Before you break ground, it's important to have the proper tools on hand, said Pat Stewart, who is about to launch her new gardening company, Down To Earth.
"I grew up around gardening," Stewart said. "My dad came from a farming family and always had a huge garden that provided plenty of veggies for our family and friends. My mother and maternal grandmother both had green thumbs and all the flowers and shrubs to prove it. While I can appreciate the beauty of the flowers, my real fascination and love has always been in seeing something go from a seed to a plant to something edible."
Stewart said that of the many tools available for gardening, there are at least five that are necessary.
"These are the ones I absolutely could not do without," she said of the tools listed on page E6. "Several years ago, I became completely smitten with the Wolf Garten tool system. They have interchangeable heads that can be used on long or short handles."
1. Protective gear (hat and gloves): Even with a full head of hair, your scalp can get sunburned. Plus, a ventilated hat with a nice brim protects your ears and neck and keeps you cooler. My favorite glove for the garden is a snug-fitting goatskin pair. They cost a bit more than cloth gloves, but they are tough enough to protect your hands yet supple enough to still allow for some dexterity.
2. Wheelbarrow: I love the double-wheeled ones, because they are less likely to tip over with a heavy load. It will be the workhorse that carries loads of soil amendments and tools to the garden and piles of weeds and multiple baskets of harvest away from the garden.
3. Stirrup hoe/pendulum weeder: This gem almost makes hoeing fun (almost). It makes short work of weeds, even when the soil has gotten a little hard. An added benefit is the way it cultivates the top inch or two of soil.
4. Garden rake: Great for tilling, getting loose weeds and clumps/rocks out of the soil and leveling tilled soil. You can turn it over and use the top 'bar' to smooth out your row or top off a hill without dragging too much dirt away.
5. Trowel: My dad always told me to dig a $5 hole for a 50-cent plant. A good trowel helps you do just that. For me, metal is a must for digging just a little deeper, breaking up some hard soil and even occasionally whacking an unwanted bug.