As I spend more time in the garden, I come to realise the difference and benefit of investing in quality garden tools. Though may be more expensive at the outset, they tend to not only last longer but also do the job well. This can save time and effort but also increase safety!
I thought we could start a list of our favourite tools (type and models and makes) that become indespendable.


My top three

-shindaiwa brushcutter with weed-wakka extension, and harness - love this so hard as don't go through miles of line and also is tough enough for my brush. I can go hours on end..

-felco secateurs

-GOOD QUALITY LEATHER GLOVES AAAAAAARGH. These never last long enough. I even tried repairing but only gives a little bit more life. At the moment, I'm using Cyclones deerskin gloves - soft enough to have dexterity but strong enough to last a bit longer.. 

 

I have been wondering about getting/using a machete - used a lot in syntropic farming (cutting down bananas, chop and drop etc), but have some reservations about safety - would love to hear your fav machetes (or alternatives - does anyone use a brush hook?). I love hand tools as they are more enjoyable and less noisy than their petrol guzzling friends.

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  • I was just thinking about starting this conversation last night aha. Great minds!

    Hori-Hori  I bought the cheap version from Bunning and love it so much, I bought the more expesive and hopefully sharper version form The seed collection. I use it for weedling and  transplanting.  

    Korean Ho-Mi Hoe I've also invested in one of those. I've seen people use it at the community garden and the feedback is very good. I am thinking this will be handy for chop and drop style weeding. 

    Gloves    The last pair I bought seems to last well and is great in wet weather. Soft enough for dexterity and waterproof. I also washes well. 

    I try to not dig anymore after all my reading on protecting soil structure. So, when the spade and fork broke they did not get replaced. I now do some light weeding and mount compost on top of my beds. 

    Pruning saw: handy for cutting banana trunks but the stump is where I probably miss the spade the most. 

     

     

     

    Hori Hori | The Seed Collection
    Hori Hori. This traditional Japanese Hori Hori is multi-purpose versatile tool for every gardener. Featuring a 180mm strong heavy duty stainless stee…
    • Thanks Valerie :) Interesting, I've always avoided those weird rubbery gloves - might give them a better look next time. We do such rough work sometimes I expect them to snap and get destroyed.. 
      I've been wondering about those little knifey-trowel tools - there are quite a few around so thanks for the recommendations.

      When I saw you reply oh no not a seedcollection link... must resist..............................

       

      Great minds ;)

  • I have a Tramontina machete. But from experience, I'd get their 14 inch balo or even their Tramontina Machete 5 Pack. It's all about the angle of the strike and what you are cutting. Different jobs require different whacks.  Also make sure you get a range of files and a good oil. I think kitchen knives are more dangerous unless you plan to run amucki n the neighbourhood. I also have 3 Tromontina sickles. That's indispensable too.

    I've given up on secateurs for general use and have switched back to old fashion shears and gardening scissors.  My local Korean grocer sells a kitchen paiur of scissors for around $12 and they work great in the garden. The Koreans know their scissors as they use them to cut their meat.

    For digging up single plants like our Vetiver, we just switched to Spear & Jackson oak handle shovel, with a curved blade.It's called a plumbers shovel I think.  Makes a huge difference.

    You'll also need a chainsaw in syntropy, and I'm impressed with our Stihl.

    blade.it
    • Thanks Dave - yes the Tramontina blades seem to be made of quality steel. How do you know which blade type to use for each purpose? As in, when would you use the curve up tip one versus the rounded triangle one? What about the cane knife... Also, what do you use to slash the vetiver, the sickles? I got a little sickle, it's handy for harvesting grassy things. 

      Yeah we've got a miniboss Stihl and a heavier duty Husq. For now I'm not sure I want my synthropic potager to get that big that I need a chainsaw though! I can't have gum trees growing that close to the house. Hence why top canopy of mulberry, moringa, cassava, coffee and avos are all manageable for human height. If I had a bit more space in a north/east orientation I would go nuts "full (syn)tropo" for funzies but unfortunately the extra space is a dark and gloomy south/west orientation (feeling it now with winter coming) so really best for straight forest (mushrooms....?)

      Curved blade, interesting. I've found the trenching shovel to be the most versatile of the spade/shovel family. So much easier for digging tree-ling holes

      • Which blade type?

        I'd think experience would rule. I know that using my machete on every occasion exposes its size and shape limitation, as horses for courses rule. So I'm saying I'd like a range to choose from. 

        what do you use to slash the vetiver...6d015ee8267843bcbab22cda4b65e14c?v=31b29d94&t=w500dpr1&profile=RESIZE_400x

        Day to day I use the sickle to trim clumps. When doing a whole bed we use the brushcutter --sometimes with the round blade. After harvest I trim the stems back with machete against a  horizontal log. I also use the machete to cut off some of the roots. Of the tools I've used to trim roots and leaves further, I prefer the straight shears (image right) and/or scissors. Too much RSI risk with secateurs and they often jam. The shears are easier to keep sharp too with a file.

        The Tramontina sickle is not swung but pulled toward you. So it is often a 2 hand job except when cutting low weeds or plants still anchored in the ground. But the serrations always cut.

        I also use my sickle vertically. And sometimes drag it that way through the very top layer the soil to cut and dislodge roots.I prefer that to digging. The worms still protest, but the soil damage is minimal.

        I was thinking that in the syntropy universe you cut most things to shoulder height. As a chainsaw principle, that's good safety.

        Just on 'tools' per se -- my most used tool is a chest high wooden rod  with a short  galvanized star post attached(home made). Like a pointed walking stick, I use it to:

        1. form/stab planting holes for seedlings.
        2. help me up from a crouching or kneeling position after planting

        ALSO a tool in its way and a horticultural essential for us is 42 litre Flexi Tubs. The ones from K-mark are quite strong for the very cheap price. You can pay $20+ for the same size, and much better quality,  as 'horse tubs' from Feed Stores. We use a lot of these but they are also useful beyond their intended function because they can be carried and picked up.

        You can also carry them one-handed if the weight isn't too much as they fold in. I first saw them used that way transporting trout between ponds in a Victorian hatchery.

        They are the best way to move mulch. Fill each tubt then load a few into a wheelbarrow or onto a trolley to shift the mulch to its offload site. To load mulch, just turn the tub on its side and rake the mulch into it. No need for double handling. No good for stones.

        Finally on tools: since I am prone to being distracted, I'm good at losing small tools in the garden.  This is another reason not to buy secateurs. I tried lots of way to find misplaced tools  but my best solution so far is to use cable ties to attach good quality fluro reflective tape to the tool handle. The best tape I've found is sold for boats but safety suppliers sell it. It isn't cheap -- but think about all the tools you can lose.

        I found I needed to tie the tape on with cable ties because the stickiness wasn't reliable around small gauges like a tool handle.

         

        https://www.kmart.com.au/product/42l-flexi-tub-black-42991090/
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