Have you got certain items that MUST be with you whenever you go into the garden? It might be particular clothing, tools, equipment or maybe even sustenance.
We 3Growbags definitely have, and we are expecting some knowing nods of agreement among our readers as we tell you about them…
Trousers with knee-pads. Whoever invented these deserves to win Bake-Off, Strictly and the Great Pottery Throwdown. When your back is not as sturdy as it once was (getting old is no joke), the ability to kneel at a moment’s notice and weed, trim or deadhead while your knees are comfortably cushioned, is a benefit beyond price.
Obviously, getting up again is something else entirely, and often leads to me staying down and crawling on to the next patch that needs attention with all the elegance of a slow and muddy crab.
Mini-secateurs in a holster. I discovered this little piece of genius at least twenty years ago, and now feel bereft if I find myself up the garden without it. With a holster, they are always RIGHT THERE at hand for all the little snipping and light pruning tasks as you potter around. Do make sure that the holster is on a belt that has gone through your trouser belt-loops though, or it slips forward alarmingly in the manner of a posing pouch which can terrify neighbours and passing postmen. Trust me.
Perennial spade. Something new has been added to my armoury in the last year, and it’s become very important. A Burgon & Ball perennial spade is like a mini-spade for when you’re getting down and dirty in the borders. It will do all the jobs you did with a trowel, but with more heft and a better grip. It’s perfect for dividing perennial plants and I find it really handy to help me reach further across raised beds or wide borders. I expect you’ll have spotted one more-or-less welded to the hands of Monty Don and Adam Frost this year on GW, so they’ve clearly been listening to me. Oh yes, all right, maybe they listened instead to the RHS who endorse them.
I’d like to tell you about balls of twine, and a little notebook/pen combo, and a small chocolate bar for emergencies but my sisters are barging me aside as usual…..
Have you noticed that Elaine’s must-have gardening items strongly reflect her cottage-gardeny approach to horticulture? You can just imagine her flitting around hither and thither with her herbaceous spade and dainty snips, making notes and tying up clematis with bits of twine. Here, at the cutting edge of experimental garden management much beefier essentials are necessary.
Growing so many plants that are on the edge or beyond their natural geographical range means a lot of pots have to be shifted at my place, especially at the two equinoxes, when they either have to come in or out of the glasshouse. So my first indispensable item of equipment is a good sturdy sack barrow. It’s been in continual use today as we have a frost forecast this weekend, as you can see in our feature photo above…
Lots of pots means lots of potting compost required and to make this process as cheap and sustainable as possible next indispensable item is a large shallow metal wheelbarrow in which I mix my own. Nowadays I always recycle spent compost from defunct pots by tipping it into a wheelbarrow then adding in extra ingredients to revitalise it. This could be our own homemade compost from the heap, leaf mould, grit, limestone and/or maybe a handful of complete fertiliser – all dependant on whether the next recipient of my magic mix is a woodlander, chalk lover, drainage lover etc. There are a couple of ancillary items required here which are an old fashioned metal shovel – ideal for turning and mixing the chosen ingredients and a watering can to given the whole lovely growing medium a good soak before using.
Whilst still on the pots theme, my final indispensable item is a container knife, used to free up the rootball of an incumbent plant when it’s time to move it up into a bigger pot. I used to use a long kitchen knife for this process running it round inside the pot to sever the roots that had stuck fast to pot wall, but now it’s always the Burgon &Ball container root and transplanting tool. You obviously rate it too, as it’s been one of the best sellers in our shop for the last couple of years. There’s a little video at the end of the tool in action.
I love the pictures so far – Elaine resembles Jessie James with her holster round her hips and Laura looks like she’s taken a job on a construction site.
OK so I absolutely could not live without my razor hoe, both for its obvious purpose as a brilliantly effective weeding tool – and for less obvious purposes such as clearing my top drain (every day this week) and ‘hoicking’ pots off the top shelf of my garden shed – à la Captain Hook. I’m not kidding, it feels like you’re working with your best mate when you’ve got a razor hoe in your hand!
Now here’s something a bit different – I wouldn’t be without red plot flags, why? Because little white plant labels are no match for the riot of wind, rain and snow that dominate your average Highland winter. They simply disappear. I need a bright red flag with about a foot long shaft stuck in the ground to remind me that, in this location, ‘something’ is likely to reappear in April. We’ll worry about what the ‘something’ is when the time comes but it most definitely mustn’t be trodden on, planted over or strimmed.
Finally, like Wallace and Gromit, I’ve had ‘wrong trouser’ problems in the past ie I’ve ruined my smart jeans by not bothering to change for what started off as a two-minute gardening job.
Now I can’t afford the fabulous Genus gardening trousers Laura and Elaine swear by, but I do now always change into my plumbers’ breeks from Highland Industrial Supplies.
You won’t see them at Paris Fashion Week but with natty little pockets for glasses, secateurs and polos they’re definitely ‘de rigeur’ here at Wildcat Corner, darlings!
We bet you’ve got some pieces of kit you can’t be without when you’re gardening? Write in and let us know.
- Elaine and Laura created this short clip on some of their favourite tools in our shop this week.
And here is Laura’s demonstration of the container knife.
Meanwhile Louise has some dependable autumn stars and has picked out one of the best as her plant of the moment. Click on the box below to find out what it is.
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