Saturday, July 2, 2016

Notes from the Growing Food In SoCal Lecture Today

Categories of Tools

The most important tools you use are the different parts of your body – your hands, your skin, your back, your knees and your legs. Chemical sunblock may be bad for your body, but it most certainly does nature no good once you've washed it off. A long sleeved cotton shirt and cotton pants are cool and, if you can find organic cotton that costs less than the US Military budget, you are doing Gaia a good deal. Wear a hat (it's stylish anyway!) and comfortable shoes and your set. Get gloves that will stand to the work you are doing – digging with shovels almost always means a heavy glove, gardening in containers is a piece of cake with cotton gloves or some of the new plasticized gloves. Get more than one pair to fit the different tasks you do in the garden.

A. Stand up gardening/Mulch, Compost moving
  1. Double digger, aka broadfork
  2. Spading fork
  3. Compost fork
  4. Grain Shovel
  5. Spade
  6. Round point shovel
  7. Poachers spade
  8. Long handle vs. short handle
  9. Wheelbarrow/gardeners cart

B. Kneeling gardening
  1. Trowel
  2. Hand fork
  3. Weeders
  4. The Stick tool
  5. Scissors
  6. Kneeling pad/etc
  7. Dibbles
  8. Wire brush
  9. Sharp serrated knives
  10. Watering can or hose
  11. Tape measure
  12. I include a radio with my kit

C. Container gardening
  1. Trowel
  2. Hand fork
  3. Weeders
  4. Kneeling pad (?)
  5. Tarp
  6. Watering can or hose
  7. Machete
  8. Pot brush
  9. Container knife

D. Seeding
  1. Widget
  2. Seeding tool
  3. Swiss Army Knife
  4. Pencil
  5. Marker
  6. Plastic tags
  7. Flats
  8. Newspaper
  9. Containers

E. Harvesting
  1. Knives
  2. Scissors
  3. Pruners
  4. Containers – baskets, bags, dishpan – to wash and clean produce (as needed)

F. Pruning
  1. Pruners that fit your hand
  2. Folding saw
  3. Loppers
  4. Pole Pruner
  5. Large saw
  6. Sharp knife
  7. Specialty gloves if needed

G. Tool care
  1. Linseed oil for wood
  2. Any oil for metal
  3. Rags
  4. Sharpening devices
  5. Sandpaper in different grades

H. Almost all kits have

  1. Knife or knives
  2. Screwdrivers
  3. Pliers
  4. Measuring tape of some kind     
Tool And Supply Sources

Lee Valley is primarily a Canadian company with some interesting ideas – things you'll NEVER see elsewhere. Some of them have proven really handy while others that I've bought have been duds. This is a catalog you'll mostly look through, wistfully hoping you have a rich uncle who is near death.

Gardeners Supply has some good items, I like them. If you see something you like, wait. It will be on sale and will be at a much more reasonable price. Avoid the plastic crap.

A Half Moon Hoe... One Day it will be mine!
Gardener's Edge is owned by AM Leonard, supplier of tools for big horticultural enterprises. Good prices, good tools, many in-house brands that are as good as named brands (or better) for a better price.

Peaceful Valley Farm Supply always carries some good tools, their prices are reasonable, but their shipping can kill any buzz you might get on price. Their website is a nightmare to use – go there, find their phone number and call for a print catalog.

John Jeavon's company has stuff you can't usually find anywhere else, like old-time wooden flats (instead of plastic).

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange has small quantities of seed saving supplies – if you play in that field – everything from corn shellers to self-sealing seed envelopes.

Frost Proof Supply is mainly for professionals, but they have things that are hard to find and they carry a full line of tools. I have found them reasonable. Their website sucks and they don't have a print catalog.

And I get a lot of my tools and supplies online through eBay, twine, dibbers (from England!), good prices on Haws Watering Can (yes, you can find the FineAsRain roses with the rubber back there too) and service is usually quick.  The drawback is that many of these folks are there to sell sell sell and they really have no concept of the actual product, but, on the other hand, I have bought a LOT of stuff on eBay and I've been less dissatisfied than I have been with companies here in LA where I could walk in the store! Often times there is no such thing as service and eBay is well policed and hats off to their policies that make the consumer really King. 



  1. Thank you David, this is a great list.
    I would add my 2 cents worth:
    For Stand up gardening - An aluminum snow scooper or a large dustpan, leaf rake and push broom for clean up.
    Kneeling gardening - Hand hoe or Japanese triangle hoe, and a small stool for those with bad knees. (Saved mine all these years)
    Container gardening - A scooper to scoop out soil, What do you use a machete for???? I can guess for really rootbound plants, to slide down side of pot and chopping the compact roots? I use my Hori Hori knife.
    Seeding - notebook, chopsticks, clean spray bottle for misting and a soft nozzle for hose.
    Tool care - you forgot cleaning/sterilizing, mouthwash. You taught me that!
    I also value tarps and burlap tarps. For having soil/mulch delivery dump onto blue tarps and for easy pruning/leaf cleanup.
    And most important tool, our bodies. I recommend stretching/yoga/massage. Hand creams to smooth skin and calluses. Also an Aloe Vera plant for the cooling gel for sunburn, and scrapes.
    Happy Gardening!

    1. Hi Kat, thank you for your input! As always, what you say makes sense. The machete is for removing root bound plants from their containers. Especially in terra cotta, the root hairs find their way into the small holes of the clay and take up residence with cable TV and all that. I understand they are particularly hard to evict when the Dodgers are playing...

      You are right to chastise me for forgetting to write about Listerine to sterilize your tools. It was mentioned in the talk that this handout was prepared for. Your other items are going to be a part of this handout, although it will now run to three pages and I was proud of myself for keeping it to two. Of course, it will - with appropriate editing, show up in my book!