Sunday, November 6, 2016

Gifts for Gardeners - Tools with Teeth

Just in time for the death of Daylight Saving Time and the beginning of the bulb-planting frenzy comes my first in a series of Gifts for Gardeners posts. May the thought of goodies to come warm you in the Northern nights.

In late summer the Brooklyn company Uncommon Goods sent me a set of garden tools to review, on the understanding that I would only if I liked them. I do! I have been test driving (digging?) them since September.

To back up a little: Last year I bought a pointy trowel with a dangerously serrated edge. It wasn't what I wanted, but it was the only one our local hardware store had in stock in November, and I had to plant bought and gifted perennials in the now-ripped-up front garden, fast, before the first freezes. Turns out I like serrated edges: very useful for cutting through rootballs. But that trowel is very skinny and more like a bulb-planting tool, so it is not helpful for actually carrying little loads of soil. It took forever to dig a hole.

Enter the handsome Garden Works Soil Scoop. The name says it all: it can actually scoop and hold enough soil for potting, or dig holes effectively.

It's also very useful for digging out established plants whose roots have filled a pot, because its sharp teeth help zip through them. Recently I used it for the unglamorous job of digging up established jewelweed whose season has at last come to an end (cutting the four-foot plants down exposes you to the rapid light arms fire of their furiously exploding seed pods - goggles would have been nice).

Anyone who has pulled as many weeds as I have in the last year will understand that a tool described as a 'weed weapon' would appeal to me. Part of my weed challenge is a path of pavers where weeds insinuate themselves into hairline cracks. The weed weapon's sharp, forked tip helps me winkle them out without destroying my already blue-collar fingernails.

The angle weeder also extends my reach into the bed, so I can lean in, dig down and rake towards myself, severing weeds as the weapon travels. It's very satisfying. It is so narrow, like a scythe, that I can usually do this without damaging the plants I mean to protect, like garlic shoots, young arugula or lettuces.The angle weeder's length and sharpness also mean that I can zap the damn morning glory seedlings with having to squat and pull every single one. They keep coming.

In fairly typical fashion I have not looked after my new tools very carefully. They live on my stone potting table in all weathers and their birch handles have fared very well and the stainless steel is spot-free. They look as good now as they did months ago, and the handles have remained very smooth to hold.

Yes, I will clean them (the picture above was taken when they were brand new) and bring them indoors for winter. In spring the weed weapon will have to start all over again. Both tools are US-made, from parts to assembly. The scoop is $21.95, the weed weapon is $23.95 - good investments, and neither breaks the bank.

Next week? Soap for dirty, dirty gardeners.


  1. I see Santa Clause getting some anonymous information on that Weed Killer - it looks great! Already have a toothed scoop and use it all the time - great tool. Hope you are nearing the end of your fall chores.

    1. Hi Win - yes, I am nearly done. Last-minute bulbs to plant (in-ground) and others to lift (pots). And another soil test to send off. "Toothed scoop" - nice words :)

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