Knives, Trugs, and Gloves: Tools of the Trade

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Meredith, a professional gardener at Ladew Topiary Gardens, sporting practical and stylish garden fashion

Visiting gardens around the country is a passion of mine and I always look for the gardeners who maintain these places. Gardening full-time, these garden warriors have tried many things over the years and come up with practical and winning solutions for gardening in comfort.

Women in particular are inventive and sew up some innovative accessories like the apron above. Meredith, who is a professional gardener at Ladew Topiary Gardens, in Monkton, Maryland, sewed her tough utilitarian apron out of upholstery fabric from an apron pattern that she modified to have deep pockets. How many times are you in the garden and you pick up something and have nowhere to place it? Or maybe to stuff gardeners twine into? Or a nifty pouch to hold your phone?

Soil Knife

A gardener at Chanticleer is using a soil knife like a pick ax to make divots
A gardener at Chanticleer is using a soil knife like a pick ax to make divots

A requirement for every gardener in the field is a utilitarian sharp-pointed soil knife with a cutting serrated edge which Meredith holds in her hand. Replacing the old-fashioned trowel, the soil knife slices through soil and saws right through tough roots.

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Some old-fashioned trowels

 

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Variety of tools includes a soil knife – my indispensable tool

Using a soil knife like a miniature pickax, a gardener can make small divots in the ground to plant plugs or small bulbs quickly. It slices and dices and has become my most useful implement in the tool shed.

Using a soil knife, I can cut through old roots in containers
Using a soil knife, I can cut through old roots in containers

Trugs and Gloves

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My friend Gretchen is using an old plant container from a nursery for a trug-sturdy and with handles; her gloves are inexpensive nitrile rubber-coated gloves
Trugs galore
Trugs galore
My set up in a rolling cart; red West County gloves, trug and soil knife
My set up in a rolling cart; red West County gloves, Felcos, trug and soil knife

Why spend a lot on trugs and gloves? There are tons of fancy and expensive gloves specifically made for gardeners. You could drop a lot of cash on these necessities in the garden but there are too many high-priced gloves that don’t last long. I usually won’t spend more than $5 to $8 per pair as I like to rotate what I am using and I go through them fast as the fingers always wear out on my right hand. If I could buy just ‘right hand’ gloves, that would be perfect!

My West County gloves are a couple years old
My West County gloves are a couple years old

Cheap gloves that are coated in the nitrile rubber coating work just fine. I do break down and buy  some very good pairs that I might spend $20 on –  namely ‘West County Gloves’. Using them for cold wet weather, the West County gloves are tough and hold up to lots of abuse. I have had some for several years that are still wearable.

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I like utilitarian gloves for a variety of purposes

Washing them is important once in a while but this seems to shorten the life so I try to do it infrequently.

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Mesh back gloves are good for hot weather

 

Handled trugs are essential equipmentl
Handled trugs are essential equipment

Hoses

High on my list is a good garden hose. I am really tough on my tools and need something nearly indestructible. Dramm makes the ColorStorm series and it is crackless, resistant to kinking and extremely tough. Plus, it comes in an array of colors! I really appreciate when my equipment looks as good as it is useful.

Dramm makes hoses in a rainbow of colors
Dramm makes hoses in a rainbow of colors

The most hated job on my gardening list is wrangling cumbersome hoses that tangle and kink. And I always used to run over my hose end with my car and end up with a flattened fitting. No longer with the Dramm hose –  it won’t crush under the weight of my car. Plus there is a lifetime guarantee. Made in the U.S.A, this is the only hose I use now.

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The blue Dramm hose is my favorite

 

Old Hose – New Life

Floor mat made out of cut hoses
Door mat made out of cut hoses

Have you ever thrown an old hose away and thought that there should be some use for it instead of clogging up the landfill? Here is something that anyone can do, even if your creativity is non-existent. I saw this on Pinterest, was intrigued, and figured out how to construct it. It took just a few minutes each day to make it.

First, get hold of an old floor mat. I have lots of these hanging around that are faded but still serviceable.

Start with an old floor mat, a piece of hose, and some E-6000 adhesive
Start with an old floor mat, a piece of hose, and some E-6000 adhesive

The adhesive E-6000 is strong, waterproof, and easy to work with as long as you wear gloves. You could get high on the fumes so work in a ventilated area! I used 3 tubes of this.

I start by making a shape out of the hose, a crescent shape that will be the outer ring of the mat and will be the shape that all your pieces will be glued next to. Cut with pruners or tin snips.  This is the hardest part of the entire project! Hoses are really tough with added fibers. Add the E-6000 in liberal amounts to the back of the hose pieces and stick it to the mat. Weight the pieces down with something heavy. I used some old paint cans. Wait for at least a couple of hours for the pieces to adhere and cut a few more pieces and glue them down. Continue in this manner until you are almost to the center.

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Weight the hose pieces down with heavy stuff so that the pieces won’t shift
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Apply lots of adhesive. Here I have bare hands and had a hard time removing the glue from my hands. Use gloves!

The center pieces are just folded in half. Finish off with a short piece for the center, and then I used sturdy scissors to cut around the perimeter of the mat, trimming it so it is flush with the hose edge. I used a table saw to cut every piece of hose flush on the straight bottom edge and Voila – You have a new recycled floor mat! It took one entire hose of 50′ in length to make this.

Door mat made out of cut hoses
Door mat made out of cut hoses

Next post, How to make a hose wreath!

A Garden hose.
A Garden hose. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)