Category Archives: Tools

Drilling Holes for Plants

One of the easiest ways I have found to create holes for plants is to use a battery powered drill with an auger.

I have tried two sizes, a 1.75″ diameter with a short shaft and a 2.5″ diameter with a two foot shaft. The smaller shaft works well if you are sitting down, but does not leave a clean hole. You need to use one hand to clean it out before putting in the plant. The advantage is that the hole is smaller. The drill does have a tendency to get dirty as a result of having a shaft which is so short.

The 2.5″ diameter auger makes a clean hole, but the hole is larger. This is my favorite since it is easier to make a clean hole and easy to just throw in the plant and fill it in.

I have had good luck using an auger in good soil and bad. The auger will break up the soil into small pieces and will make it easy to fill in when the plant is in the hole.

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#2 Sharpened Pencil – a Gardening Tool?

While most people think of hoes and clippers and spades as normal gardening tools, the one I am using most often right now is a regular #2 sharpened pencil. If you look at the picture below you will see ten plants and roots all mixed together in on smallish cell. Most people start ripping everything apart, but a new technique I learned recently was to tease the roots apart with a pencil. This makes it much easier to separate the plants for re-potting.




The second way I’m using a pencil is to make a hole in some wet potting soil for any new cuttings that I am trying to root.



The final way I use a #2 pencil is for making labels. Forget the permanent markers, a #2 soft lead pencil will create a nice label that will not wash off and will last all season. I cut up old plastic Venetian blinds and use them for plant markers.


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How to Make Seeds Sticks


The cost of some seeds can be quite expensive in some cases, so it just makes sense to not waste them or use more than you need.  A single packet of 15 seeds of Cheyenne Spirit cost $8.25 and last year I had poor germination with this cultivar.

Also some seeds are very tiny and hard to handle just using your fingers.

In the past I bought a plastic seed spoon, but thought I could come up with a replacement with little effort on my part.

I tried a couple different sources for my wood. I used a wood wedge, cut off a piece, sanded it and it works well. I also tried a stick from a frozen treat and with a little sanding it worked well also. The advantage of the wood is that it’s easy to see the seeds and count how many are on the stick. The wood also holds the seed well in place. A Popsicle stick should work well also.

I did try using a heated nail to put in a dimple into the wood, but found that I didn’t need it.

The seeds you see in the picture are Maltese Cross and are very small and normally would be hard to handle, but with the home-made seed sticks, they are much easier to work with.


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The Pad for Gardening Comfort on Your Knees


I was browsing Hummert’s store in St.Louis and came across this product. It’s a large pad (15″ x 20″) which feels like it would be great for kneeling when I’m working in the garden.

I obviously haven’t tried it out yet in January, but look forward to seeing how it works this spring when I’m on my hands and knees cleaning up and putting in new plants.

Most pads are a lot smaller than this one. so I appreciate the larger size. I could not find it anywhere on Amazon , but I did find a link to it on the HomeDepot site.


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Favorite Hand Tool in the Garden


While I have a box of hand tools for the garden, there is only one I use every day. It’s the Ken Ho Garden Weeder. I use it to not only keep my weed population in check, but also to dig holes and cut off small roots. It’s very durable and although mine is filthy with caked on dirt, it is not rusting. If you have a gardener friend, this would be a great gift.





NOTE – for some reason, this is quite expensive on Amazon – another option which works well for $7.00 is the Nejiri Gama Hoe.


NOTE – for some reason, this is quite expensive on Amazon – another option which works well for $7.00 is the Nejiri Gama Hoe.


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Time to Sharpen Your Hand Pruners

I found this video on how to sharpen your hand pruners in only ten minutes.

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Hand Pruners – Two Options – expensive or cheap

One tool that I use on a daily basis is a hand pruner. Plants constantly need to be pruned and dead-headed.

For the last year I have used Fiskars 9124 Professional Bypass Pruning Shears – $15.22 on I have made thousands of cuts and they have done a great job. I recently took them apart, sharpened and oiled them and they seem to still be doing a good job.

I thought I would try some other more expensive pruners – Bahco Ergo Bypass Pruner PX-M2 – $45 is what I paid on Amazon. (Note – they are now $53.) These pruners are three times more expensive so I was expecting a lot.

What you’ll notice from the picture is that the Bahco – Medium Size – are significantly smaller than the Fiskars. To me the Fiskars were more comfortable in my hand. I’d probably choose the “Large” size Bahco in the future.

When it come to cutting small branches. there is no difference. They both cut well. When I was cutting larger branches – say 1/4 inch or more the Bahco slid through the branch easier than the Fiskars. This could be to the fact that they are brand new and still have that factory edge.

Another thing I noticed when cleaning and sharpening both of these, you will need some special tools to take apart the Bahco. You need a star screwdriver.  The

In summation, for the money Fiskars makes a great product and I would have no hesitation recommending these pruners and use the extra $30 for other tools.

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