The best gardening tools are not necessarily the most expensivePosted by Fiona Nevile in Discoveries, General care | 14 comments
I’d cut down the rose bushes to large stumps and wheeled away about ten borrow loads of rose branches and quite a lot of bindweed roots.
John Coe cast an eye over the warzone border covered with hefty skeletal stumps.
“I can see what you mean. With this and the new potato border you will have a much more productive space for growing vegeatbles. Kitchen garden borders always fill up fast.”
He picked up my spade and stabbed at the biggest rose root.
“This’ll take some shifting.”
Within five minutes the base of the spade had snapped away from the handle. Poor John. It didn’t matter at all but he felt crouchy. It was a cheap stainless steel one. Beware. The metal that joins the business end to the handle may not be as strong as stainless steel. We stared at the triangular joint in silence – the metal joiner had just rusted away.
“I have a pitch fork if that will do?”
“Yes. Better than nothing.”
When I was in the barn my hand fell on a big shovel. John pushed open the barn door at exactly the same moment.
“Years ago I put a shovel in the barn.”
I handed John the shovel.
In fact I was pleased that the stainless steel spade had broken, it was a heavy cumbersome thing. I always used to buy stainless steel forks and spades. In the olden days these were recommended as tools for life. You invested hugely, ‘worked one in’ and it would probably see you out. You might need to replace a wooden handle once in a while but your finely honed tool would see you too the grave.
About twelve years ago cheaper stainless steel tools started to appear in the shops and garden centres. They looked exactly the same but they were of inferior quality to the old fashioned stainless steel for life range. When a prong snapped on my fourth stainless steel fork I went out looking for a replacement. I decided to buy one that suited my size. I found a wonderful ordinary metal and wooden handled fork. Perfectly balanced for my height and weight. It didn’t cost much and I’ll buy a replacement spade tomorrow from this range. It’s so easy to be dazzled by the virtues of stainless steel rather than chose a tool that works well for you.
A tool is an extension of your arms and hands. It is supposed to make gardening easier and give you added oompf. Test any potential tools out in the shop for weight and dexterity. Ignore the goggling eyes. The people who are staring are clearly just used to buying small hand tools or wishing that they had done the same when they replaced their tools last time.
Although when it comes to secateurs, always buy the best. I’ve invested in medium priced ones and regretted the move within days. Felco are the kings and go on and on despite being given rather poor treatment (mine have ended up on the compost heap several times in the last seven years and always respond well to a spray of WD40). Still giving good clean cuts with loads of wellie. If you invest in Felco secateurs always buy a pair of red handled ones. They are easy to see if they are dropped in the garden by misatke. Last year Felco resharpened my mum’s secateurs. They used to do this free for the life of the tool. I’m not sure whether they still do this service. There is no evidence on the website.
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