In our early days of stepping into the world of dirty hands and broken fingernails, we made do with tools we had on hand. For instance: the kitchen scissors from the miscellaneous drawer, husbands woodworking saws from his workbench and then spotting a needle-nose pliers that would probably come in handy is added to our bucket.
Before we know it, we become "educated". We subscribe to several gardening magazines, attend gardening classes and we are on our way to realizing the above mentioned implements are no longer appropriate.
Thanks to stylish looking coffee table style gardening magazines and a few dozen seed catalogs, a whole new consumer world opens up to us and we want it all.
BUT, do we need it all?
You probably have a good practical all purpose pruner. Have you noticed it is really difficult to use when you want to get into a tight space to cut out damaged or infected plant material? Maybe it is time to ask for a gift of needle-nose pruners.
You may have a faithful pair of household scissors but they won't be the answer for garden chores. Ask Santa for serrate scissors from your local plant nursery or garden center. The serrated blade will grip the stems so cutting flowers is smoother and easier on your hands.
The Hori-Hori knife is a multi-tasker. It can take out weeds by their roots and it is great for digging holes for transplants or bulbs. The serrated blade can cut through anything from twine to the root mass of perennials you want to divide. That is the one item I always make sure is in my bucket when I work in the Demo Garden in Redmond.
Several years ago I treated myself to a proper pruning saw. The saws on the workbench just didn't do the job causing lots of frustration and usually ending up with a botched up pruning job. My pruning saw has a 14" curved blade with 3-sided VERY sharp teeth that makes branch removal easy and efficient. Another plus is that the blade is replaceable. My regret is that I didn't consider moving up the pricing ladder to the style that has the folding blade. As I mentioned the blade is very sharp so care needs to be taken to keep it stored in the original cardboard sheath. This year I need to reinforce the sheath by wrapping it in a heavy tape.
Scenario: Son arrives for a few days to help with garden chores. Keeps getting smacked by a juniper branch. Son says, "Have you got one of those long handled thingies with a cutter up at the top?"
I guess I have some work to do on proper terminology.
Yes, I do have long handled loppers. However what I really want is the long handled ratcheting loppers. The ratcheting action will make cutting branches easier. From what I have researched, setting the blade is a little tricky but once you learn the action, the rest is easy, plus quicker than the basic loppers.
There is a myriad of tools to lust after and each year newer and better (so they tell us) tools come to market. One tip that is worth following is to mark your tools with some personal identification like a bright tape. There are two good reasons. One is that are easy to see when you lay them down and walk away. The other is that small hand tools have a tendency to be left behind when you are working in the Demo gardens or Community gardens. The tools are picked up at days end and at the Redmond Demo garden are placed in a Lost and Found box in the garden shed.
Hopefully for Christmas or any special day in your life, you will receive the tool of your hearts desire---after all, they are cheaper than diamonds!
Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Selecting a Christmas Tree" segment on Tues. Dec. 15 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am.