Archive for the ‘Tools of the trade’ Category

Essential Tools – A Spade and Fork

A spade is a spade as the saying goes, but in this day and age that is not so true !.

These are the workhorses of any garden, and should last any gardener or allotmenteer a lifetime, so it’s wise to choose them well, and spend as much as you can afford.

SPADES

Lots of spades these days are made from pressed steel, and have those small tabs on the top, which I find seem to trap a lot of soil and make the spade heavy and more difficult to clean, which is a consideration as they are mainly mild steel and will soon rust, if they are not cleaned and oiled after use.

My choice would be stainless steel blade, with a good strong hickory shaft, not the plastic or metal ones, look for a spade that is well balanced and has a good long throat where the wood enters the metal shaft, the blade should have a slight curve, and fairly sharp at the business end.

Look also for seamless welds, smooth join between wood and metal, make sure the handle is smooth and is firm, the shaft and handle should be all in one piece, avoid a spade with a plastic handle riveted to the wood at all costs.

 

FORKS

There are various types of forks, the main one you will see is the digging fork, about the same size as the spade, the two will look like a pair, take the same things into consideration when buying a fork.

Try to find one with thick square tines, thin round tines will easily distort and bend in heavy soil.

 

Like everything else in life you get what you pay for, my medium priced Spade and Fork cost around £30 each, chances are they will last 4-5 times longer (if not more) than the pressed steel versions, and will pay for themselves.

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Essential Tools – A shed !

Unless you are fortunate enough for your home to be literally a step away from the allotment, your first tool should be a shed, saying that, you may be fortunate enough to inherit one from the previous owner as was our case.

A shed is essential to store all those things you will need on a daily basis, and somewhere to shelter on those showery spring and summer days.

The ideal size would be 8′ x 5′ in old money, don’t ask me what the metric equivalent is.

At first you may think that a new shed is in order, but unless the shed you are inheriting is practically falling down, there is a lot you can do to save yourself a bit of hard cash, especially if you do not take to the grow your own way :

Firstly a coat of preservative does a lot to make a shed look good, most allotment associations only specify a “recognised preservative”, and most would go for Dark Brown or Cedar Red, bu there is nothing stopping you choosing a bright blue or green.

If the shed is a bit rickety, then bracing it diagonally will give a few more years of life, or at least until you are sure that you will get value out of a new one.

It’s fair to say that sheds are not the most secure of places, so it’s advisable not to keep  anything like mowers or rotovators in there, which would attract thieves, a good strong padlock is still advisable as a deterrent though.

In our shed we have two chairs, essential for those little breaks between digging and weeding, we have also invested in a single ring gas hob, bought for £9.99 from a hardware store, just to give us a fresh hot drink while we are working. The walls are used for hanging tools, and some old containers are utilised as storage for string and the like, we even have room for the wheelbarrow to be tucked away at the end of the day.