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Friday Favorite: Vintage Garden Tools

April 11th, 2014

I’m a huge fan of old tools, they’re just so much better than newer ones. You can still buy good quality garden tools but they’re pricy. The ones you get at the local home improvement store are generally not that great. I buy garden tools when I see them in good condition at yard sale and antique store.
vintage tools 1
I’m amassing quite a collection. I have purchased a few new tools, when I need a specific tool and don’t haven’t found a good vintage one.  You can certainly spot the new tool in the group above!
vintage tools 2
potager walkway 2
One thing I love about vintage tools is the old wood handles. These handles are made of wonderful hardwood, they don’t bend and they rarely break and they do it while being beautiful and quite comfortable to use.  I also love that old garden tool handles are not the same width all the way down, this makes them super comfortable to use.  You can tell they were made for people who used their garden tools a lot!
vintage tools 3
Earlier this week I spent some time sanding down all the handles to my tools and giving them a protective coating of wax that I make up (recipe to come next week). Many gardeners do this in the fall, I prefer to do it in the spring. I know the hour or so this takes will protect these tools and make them last for another generation.
vintage tools 1 (1)
vintage tools 2 (1)
When the weather warms up I scrub them with steel wool and give the metal parts a protective coating of organic boiled linseed oil (the real stuff, no cheap stuff with petroleum additives).
vintage tools 4
The best part of vintage tools is the price. Generally, I spend between $3-$8 for each one. You certainly can’t beat that price. I also love knowing that these tools work on when they come to my home. They are doing what they were made to be doing and what the gardener before me did with them. I think perhaps they bring a little bit of the previous gardeners spirit to my garden as well!

Do you have any vintage garden tools?

Keep It Simple

May 8th, 2013

This is the fourth installment in the 5×5 Garden Challenge Series. Every Wednesday I’ll be posting about the challenge, covering topics that will help all the new gardeners get started. If you haven’t heard about the challenge head on over to the 5×5 Challenge Website, we’ll also be putting up a page here that pulls in all the 5×5 Challenge posts.
5x5 garden challenge
It seems like I’m always seeing advertisements for different gardening products on every website I go to and in every catalog that arrives in my mailbox. When it comes to gardening, I like to keep things simple. You don’t need all the latest and greatest gardening gadgets. Instead of buying a bunch of stuff you don’t need, invest in a good trowel.
I also find a bucket invaluable in the garden. It comes in handy for carrying soil amendments, plants, tools, weeds, and freshly harvested vegetables.
In addition to my trowel and bucket, I also use a watering can all the time. A big one, with a nice big crown that spreads the water far and wide.
watering cans 4
This is pretty much all I ever use in the garden, especially on a day to day basis. If you’re just getting started, don’t spend a lot of money, keep it simple!

What three garden tools would you recommend to a beginning gardener?

Friday Favorite: Seedling Heating Mat

February 15th, 2013

A week or two ago I pulled my seedling heating mat out of storage. When I first got into seed starting, my mom gave me her old one that was 9″ x 19-1/2″ (the size of one seed tray). My warm soil loving seeds were much happier; they germinated quicker and at a much higher percentage rate.  After that first season, I knew I needed a larger one.
onion seedlings
The next winter, I bit the bullet and ordered a large heating mat, one that will fit 4 trays of seeds.
Seedling heating mat 3
It’s probably the best money I’ve spend when it comes to starting seeds, worth every single penny. Since all my seeds are started in the cold basement, the soil temperature never goes above 55 degrees or so. As a result, many seeds were slow to germinate, especially my favorite – ONIONS! I could probably rotate seedling trays around our wood burner, the air is so dry I’d have to monitor them more closely. Let’s not even talk about the annoyance of having 10 flats of seeds in the kitchen or the chiots who loves to eating potting soil.
Seedling heating mat 2
When using a heating mat, you have to be watchful of soil moisture levels as the soil dries out much more quickly.   Plastic domes over the flats are a must to help retain moisture. I turn off the heating mat when about 25% of the seeds have germinated because it’s no longer needed.
Seedling heating mat 1
I haven’t noticed an increase in my electric bill when using a heating mat, it doesn’t draw that much power. The higher germination rate of seeds would more than make up for the cost. If you’re new to seed starting, I’d highly recommend considering a heating mat for your seeds, it will make your seed starting experience so much better!

Do you use heat when starting seeds?

A Worthy Investment + a giveaway

November 27th, 2012

I learned long ago that cheap gardens tools don’t cut it. My first garden tools were purchased inexpensively at the local hardware store, most of them have already broken or desperately need to be replaced. My mom has a wonderful collection of old garden tools, most of them were left in their first home. They’re quality tools, the kind I want to spend my hard earned money on.

I love the old tools, they’re sturdy and well made, but it can be tough to find them when you need them. As a result, I’ve been looking around for good quality garden tools to buy. I know these will last me for the rest of my gardening career. After much searching, I found Clarington Forge tools and added them to my wish list hoping I might receive one for Christmas.

Why did I choose Clarington Forge? Because they are still hand made in England, just like they have been since 1780 (that’s a LONG time). Each handle is made of ash, which is strong, beautiful, and very comfortable to use. Each spade and fork head is forged from a single piece of steel. I know investing a few extra dollars in these tools will result in a lifetime of use rather than just a few years like my previous ones. When you pick up one of these tools you know it’s made to last!

Imagine my delight when cClarington Forge contacted me about a new their affiliate program and offered to give a beautiful garden tool to one of my lucky readers!

I’m more than happy to recommend a wonderful product that I’m willing to spend my own money on. It’s even better when they offer an affiliate program that helps me pay the bills associated with this blog. If you’re looking to upgrade any of your tools or need a fabulous gift for that gardener on your list, consider investing in a tool that will last a lifetime. I know I’d be delighted to find a new spade or potato fork under the Christmas tree on December 24th! Whenever you want to buy new garden tools, click through the link in my sidebar, it helps keeps my hosting bills paid each month!

Comment below, tell me which garden tool you use most and which tool from Clarington Forge you’d like find in your garden shed should you win.

Emily K from Dirt, Dishes and Design is our winner – congrats Emily!!!
Screen shot 2013-01-14 at 12.35.12 PM

If you’d like see other ways to support this blog check out my Support Page, every little bit helps keep this blog up & running.

Keeping Track of Small Garden Tools

August 30th, 2010

I used to have a bad habit of carrying trowels around with me when I was gardening and leaving them where I was working. I often forgot where they were and when I needed them again, I’d have to walk around the garden looking for them, trying to remember when I had used them last. As much as I tried to always put them back in the garage, I just couldn’t seem to remember. I love my trowels and thus never want to lose them. Not to mention a good garden trowel is not a cheap purchase.

A few months ago I decided to put a bucket by the back door to keep my trowels and my cultivator in. After doing this I’ve been able to keep track of them. I find myself carrying my trowels back to the house with me and throwing them into the bucket. This has worked well for me and I have only had to look for my trowel once or twice since I started doing this. I also like that they’re right there when I walk out the back door. I no longer have to open the garage door and head into the garage to get my tools, I simply grab the one I need from the bucket and head out into the garden.

My mom has a similar technique, she has a bucket that she keeps trowels, forks, fertilizer, a companion planting guide and a few other items for gardening. She carries this bucket around the garden with her as she works and deposits back in the garage by the door when she heads inside. This means her garden bucket is always ready to grab when she heads out. This is a great idea if you have a covered area for your bucket. Since mine sits on the back porch in the weather, I simply leave my 4 garden tools in it. They can take the weather as can the old bucket I keep them in.

If you’re in the market for good quality small garden tools I would highly recommend The Rumford Gardener large trowel, transplanting trowel, and the cultivator. I purchased them many many years ago at Target, but they are now available on Amazon. They’re solid die-cast aluminum and they’re cast in one solid piece with a rubberized handle coating. They’re tough as nails and strong as an ox yet light enough to use for a long period of time. In my rocky tough soil they keep on going where a lesser trowel would have been bent long long ago. I also find them quite comfortable to use.

What techniques have you developed to keep your garden tools easily accessible and easy to find?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.