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Basic Gardening Tools and How to Care For Them

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Lifetime Composter

If you’re new to gardening, we’ve compiled a list of basic tools for your beginner’s gardening kit.  As with any project, using the right tools makes all the difference between an enjoyable, successful experience and total frustration.  I have also included some helpful tips on how to extend the life of your gardening tools by caring for them properly. 

Your beginner’s gardening kit should include the following items:

• A gardening trowel, which is a small hand tool with a shovel shaped blade for digging small holes for planting in  or digging up weeds. Sometimes these come with depth indication on them which can be helpful when planting bulbs, etc. A trowel is the perfect size and tool to use in a Lifetime Raised Garden Bed.
• A dandelion digger, which is available with a long or short handle and can range from a very simple design to some pretty high-tech mechanisms for extracting the common dandelion by the root. I recommend the simple kind, since that does the job, and can be used for other things too.
• A long-handled metal rake, which is for removing the dead grass and aerating the new grass growth to allow fertilizer and water to more quickly reach the roots. It is also great for raking flower beds. I rake mine once per week and have no trouble with weeds. Raking keeps the weed sprouts from maturing.
•  A hand rake, which works like a metal rake but is a small hand tool for loosening the soil and removing debris around the plants in your garden to allow for absorption of water and fertilizer.
• A long-handled plastic rake, which is designed to lightly skim the surface to remove dead leaves, dried grass, and debris.  It doesn’t penetrate the turf like a metal rake. 
• A long-handled  bull-nosed shovel, which is pointed for digging big holes (for example,  planting shrubs and trees)
• A long-handled square-nosed shovel for straight-edged cutting as well as scooping (i.e.  fertilizer, decorative bark, etc.)
• A pair of gardening gloves. There are even machine washable ones  that can be washed and the mud doesn’t harden on them and make them stiff.
• Optional suggestions:  A 5 gallon bucket to put the weeds in, knee pads, a sunhat, sunscreen, and a wheelbarrow for transporting trays of plants, fertilizer, and decorative bark.

Things to look for when purchasing your gardening tools:

•  Look for a flat edge on the top of the blade on which to put your foot for leverage when digging
• For hand tools, try to find tools in which the tang and the blade are one solid piece of steel running from the tip of the handle to the tip of the blade
• Rubber handles are more comfortable and will not crack and splinter like wood. There are also ergonomically designed handles to fit your hand more comfortably and provide more leverage.

How to take care of your gardening tools:

• After each use, make sure to clean your gardening tools with a rag or brush to remove mud and dirt before storing
• Don’t leave gardening tools outside where they’ll be exposed to the elements,  causing metal parts to rust and wooden parts to split
• For winter storage, make sure all dirt and mud has been removed with a rag or brush.  Then rub a light layer of vegetable or mineral oil into the steel parts of your gardening tools to prevent oxidation (some people use motor oil, in which case you should clean it off well before using those tools in your vegetable garden in order to prevent possible contamination of your produce).  Store in a dry place in doors and out of the weather in a garage, or Lifetime Shed.

Gardening is a hobby that not only rewards you with beautiful flowers and delicious produce, but adds charm and value to your home, your neighborhood, and your community.  Everyone benefits! So happy gardening!

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