The Commercial Appeal

Essential, can’t-do-without tools make a long list


I’m about down to nothing when it comes to nonessenti­al garden tools. My little shed is bulging at the seams with stuff I use a lot; once- i ndispensab­le but now-unused items are long gone.

Gas tiller, leaf shredder, rotating compost bin? All gone. In fact, other than my leaf blower and string trimmer, about the only things I use now are so simple, I’m usually their only moving part. And I don’t think I could garden well without them.

These are the quintessen­tial things — simple tools that are perfectly apt, usually do only one thing but do it well, and on which we depend. Easy indoor examples are pot holders, coffee filters, bathroom tissue holder, easy chair, lightbulbs and toothbrush; most are so taken for granted we don’t even think about them even as they are used. But, like the dog leash, if we didn’t have ’em, we’d invent ’em.

My list of simple, can’t-do-without garden tools is pretty long, and includes tools I use every day as well as those I only need once in a while. Some I use for multiple tasks, like the 5-gallon buckets in which I haul both water and compost, use as a foot stool, stuff over little garden snakes until I decide how to deal with them, and hold iced-down beers.

I don’t really consider my birdbath, compost bin, digital camera, gates, porch swing and night lighting to be tools, though I enjoy them all the time. Same for my fire pit. And, not to get maudlin, I appreciate my nose, eyes, ears, mouth and fingers — all savory garden tools.

My short list of can’t-garden-without tools would include my turning fork, garden spade, rain gauge, water hose, sturdy gloves, clotheslin­e (and wooden pegs), wheelbarro­w, hose-end shut-off valve (best step saver since the portable phone and pet door), waterproof pen, and flat file for keeping my tools sharp. Oh, and my sun tea jug. And my fingernail brush, which I use about as much as anything else gardenrela­ted.

Some favorite garden items are more helpmates and products than tools. I appreciate the silent but important soil-making work done by earthworms, and garden-fresh basil and oregano, cut up on my custom-made chopping block. And while I can’t put my finger on exactly why, I’d really miss lightning bugs, and cherished St. Fiacre statue, and little porcelain gnomes.

Quintessen­tial garden stuff. Can’t imagine doing without.

 ?? FELDER RUSHING/SPECIAL TO THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL ?? The simple fingernail brush gets as much use as any essential gardener’s tool.
FELDER RUSHING/SPECIAL TO THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL The simple fingernail brush gets as much use as any essential gardener’s tool.
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