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What is in your garden shed, and what can't you do without?

It's a good time of year to check over your garden tools. That might be as simple as taking a few minutes to gaze fondly at the exemplary collection of clean gardening tools, hung neatly in your extremely tidy shed.
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Last week I planted out some beetroot and leek seedlings. Approximately two hours after it had stopped snowing. Then I had to run my hands under some hot water to defrost them! Round here, it's definitely that time of the year when it's good to have something to focus on besides the weather.

I have a sneaking suspicion that my poor little seedlings are going to sit and sulk in the cold from now until October (when it might begin to warm up again).

The plan was to fill the garden with brassicas too, but the local white butterflies put out a call to all their friends.  They all came round one afternoon and ate every cabbage, cauli and broccoli seedling until just a few sad stalks were left.


To be honest, it probably took longer than one afternoon … I probably should have covered them!


But lets look on the bright side! There is plenty of time to do some of those gardening tasks that get pushed to the side during spring and summer. Time to read those gardening books, time to take a stock of your seed supplies and discard anything that has expired, time to do some planning for spring sowing, time to have a look in the garden shed.....


It's a good time of year to check over your garden tools. That might be as simple as taking a few minutes to gaze fondly at the exemplary collection of clean gardening tools, hung neatly in your extremely tidy shed.

On the other hand, it might mean risking life and limb looking for your hedge clippers amongst chaotic piles of gardening paraphernalia, or wandering aimlessly round the garden, searching half-heartedly in odd corners of the garden for your trowel, while wondering if the neighbour has borrowed it!


No matter which of these scenarios rings a bell, the colder months are an opportunity to get your shed in order and show those tools some TLC. Find them....clean them...sharpen them... oil them.... and while you're doing this, you will be able to do a bit of a stocktake and make sure you are ready for the next growing season.

Which tools or items of gardenalia couldn't you do without? I've been thinking about this over the last week or so. I can't bear to pick just one, so here is a list of five things I couldn't do without in my garden:


  • My trowel: Poor thing. Mistreated, left lying around in countless odd locations, my trowel is never-the-less treasured, being my most regularly used garden tool apart from my hands.


  • The Wheelbarrow: Hard to lose. Great for moving loads of course, but also excellent for soaking seed trays and mushroom logs. My second-most-often used piece of equipment.


  • The Heatpad: Has recently moved up several positions in the gardening tool ranking, due to moving to a colder climate. It was useful before but now it is starting to feel like a treasure! This week it will be helping get my lovely microgreens a good start, indoors!


  • My Small Spade. The only one I can lift when fully laden. Those big shovels are no use to me.


  • My Seed Raising Trays. Standard black plastic rectangular trays – perfect for the job.

Caros Tools(copy)

None of these tools/equipment are for cutting, slashing or pruning, but I'm sure if I asked the other gardener in the family which gardening tools he couldn't do without, his list of favourites would cover those jobs!


So, fellow gardeners....which gardening tools couldn't you do without? We love to hear your stories....just add a comment to this post...we'd love to hear from you!





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Shona says ...
Also my small, sharp spade that I picked up at a garage sale for $1 and my wonder weeded. I have had it for nearly 20 years and "lost" it numerous times! I now have the handle wrapped in red insulation tape.
Barb says ...
Netting. Mr Possum is on the prowl and short of killing Pesky Possum (which may yet happen) netting is the best way to protect the garden. In order of preference he likes broccoli, brussel sprouts, silverbeet, then kale. He does not seem to like any of the herbs, cos lettuce, spinach or beetroot. Good to know, though it could just be that he hasn't ventured into those particular gardens. The one thing I can't do without is my mustard greens - yippee - he doesn't seem to like those.
Trev says ...
One thing I would hate to part with is my 3 prong scarifier...loosens the dirt and lifts weeds quickly and simply.
Margaret Wilde says ...
I have so many garden tools that I use year round. However, my hoe and secateurs are always with me. They are invaluable.
Wendy says ...
I couldn't do without my Niwashi.
Phil Peters says ...
Your advice about garden tools is very timely. The hand trowel you show looks as though it is suffering from some neglect and rust.
Here's a tip.
Ordinary motor oil will not protect steel that well. Get yourself a small amount of beeswax from a friendly beekeeper (it can be of indifferent quality) and heat this with some oil over a low heat in an old saucepan until the wax melts and can be stirred into the oil. The resultant "soup" will not dry off when applied to steel and will make for a better moisture repellant.
Natalie Blasco says ...
My weeder, secateurs, loppers, pruning saw, rake, narrow spade with long handle, and garden cart.
And my garden pants with built-in, removable knee pads.
And gloves. Lots of 'em!
I've lost more than one favourite hand tool over time and am
pretty sure they went to the tip mixed in with the green waste.
But occasionally I have found a tool where I left it, days or weeks later.
In fact I recently found a pair of my jandals under the verandah. Been there for years.
No idea how that happened.
Flynn Washington says ...
i LOVE my little paper pot maker. sorry, no photo of it, but it makes little paper pots which i plant seeds in, then when the seedlings are big enough i tear them apart and put the seedlings in individual paper pots, then when they are big enough just put the paperpot in the ground. for larger things like corn and pumpkins and courgettes i have a slightly larger paper pot maker which i was given by my niece in canada.
thanks again for your blog.
Heather says ...
The best - and most borrowed - tool I have ever had was a long-handled bulb planter with a horizontal bar for a foot push. Sort of a cross between a pogo stick and a cookie cutter. We never worked out why it disappeared.

With a keen toddler following, planting 100 or more bulbs was a breeze: cut the cylinder of surf and soil, toddler follows to place bulb, replace soil and jump on it.

Please Carolyn, run your fingers under a COLD tap to thaw them out - chilblains are maddening.
Jane Laking says ...
I could not remember the name of my favourite tool beyond knowing it was a traditional Japanese implement, then reading the other comments I saw Niwashi and googled it. So it's a "me too". I have arthritis in my shoulders that limits what I can do and the Niwashi helps me push those limits. It is sharp enough to chop weeds, not too heavy, pushes and pulls, hacks into things with point, or just digs. I think it's a supremely brilliant tool and having googled I see they make it with a long handle too ... I feel as though I should buy another one of these for the days when I lose it in the garden, and fuss and fret for hours until I find it again. I can't recommend this tool too highly. The other thing I love is a pair of small snippers called Black Panther not designed for the garden but again supremely useful for small weak hands and wrists. I couldn't buy them fast enough and they've proved even better than expected. I really, really don't want to lose these in the garden either. Bought at a place selling heavy duty bolts. Showed them to a sparky friend of mine and he immediately went out and bought some too. Obviously thought I'd done the right thing and had a good eye for a worthwhile tool.

Oh dear!

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