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Everyone wants to be outside when the spring season starts, which makes it the perfect time to pick up a new hobby like gardening. Spring gardening gives you ample time outside, and for all of you goal-oriented folks out there, it helps that this hobby comes with a clear objective: growing something that can actually help sustain you. While it can take some effort to get started, you’ll know your time was well worth it when you’re eating fresh fruit, herbs and veggies come summertime.
Spring Gardening: A Comprehensive Guide to Getting StartedInsideHook connected with the pros to give you the best advice on how to grow your own produce this year
While it is rewarding, gardening can be intimidating for beginners. I reached out to Allison Vallin Kostovick, a longtime organic gardener, creator of Finch + Folly, and author of The Garden Maker’s Book of Wonder, to help us amateurs find all the tools we need to grow a successful garden.
Whether you’re a freshly green thumb looking to plant a big backyard garden or an urban dweller hoping to add some herbs to your balcony, these are the essentials to start your gardening journey.
Things to consider
Add variety to your garden to increase your chance at success : You can do everything right, but you can’t control the weather, which ultimately has a lot of control over what your garden will yield. Allison recommends planting a variety of different plants, fruits and veggies. “Those wet summers where your tomatoes and peppers cry for relief are the very same summers your root veggies seem to thrive,” she shares. So, embrace variety and give yourself a better chance at success.
Don’t forget herbs: Love topping your culinary creations with a finishing touch of fresh herbs? You’re on the right track. Herbs are great companion plants to add to your veggies, Allison says. The strong aromas, which we love so much, help deter many garden pests, while also attracting pollinators.
Allison says a great pair of pruning shears is non-negotiable. Pruning and trimming are essential for keeping your plants healthy and helping them grow. They’re also wonderful for harvesting, which often requires precise cuts. “This is also the one garden tool I always have multiples of, not just because they’re that handy, but because of their smaller size, they’re also one of the easiest tools to continually misplace in the garden,” Allison shares. She recommends the Fiskars Micro-Tip Easy Action Shears if you want to start with one all-purpose pruning snip. The ultra-sharp steel blades help you get precise cuts, and the small size lets you get into hard-to-reach crevices.
Herb Snips and Hand-Held Pruners
If you want to build out your shears collection a bit beyond the basics, Allison recommends a pair of herb snips and a hand-held pruner. The Fiskars Smooth-Action Pruner has a sharp, bypass-style steel blade that is strong enough to glide through wood and thick stems. On the contrary, the Fiskars Herb Snips are shorter than regular shears, making them perfect for snipping small, delicate stems. Having these two options on hand will give you more flexibility to handle any plant maintenance that comes your way. Plus, it’s nice to have backups if your go-to gets lost.
MUD Super Grip Latex Coated Palm Garden Work Gloves
A great pair of garden gloves are something you’ll use just about everyday while you tend to your grounds. Allison recommends you keep two handy: one pair for everyday garden use and another to protect your hands during prickly chores, like pruning roses or raspberries or harvesting nettles. “For everyday use, look for a pair that fits snug, yet you can still take on and off without a hassle. Try to find a pair that offers a no-slip grip feature on the palms and fingers of the glove. Invest in a heavy canvas or leather pair of garden gloves for your tougher chores,” Allison says. She highly recommends the Mud Super Grip Gloves for everyday usage.
When weeds sprout up, they compete for the soil your plants need to grow. To keep your garden in shipshape, you’ll want to weed frequently. How often you need to do this depends on how fast the unwanted plants are growing, which depends on external factors like weather. Weeding is one of those tasks that can take a toll on your body, especially since you could end up spending a long time hunched over. You’ll want a tool that makes weeding easier to save yourself some lower back pain. Allison recommends a long-handled razor hoe, like the Collinear 4 Connecta. “This tool is a definite back saver and is perfect for maneuvering around your plants as you weed your garden beds. Its sharp blade nips the weeds with ease,” she says.
CRAFTSMAN 57.25-in L Fiberglass-Handle Welded Steel Garden Rake
Prepping your garden beds, leveling soil and gathering leaves are just some of the ways you’ll use a rake. Allison recommends a steel option, like this one from Craftsman. It has 16 durable steel tines, which makes it well-suited for breaking up hard, compact soil.
Rolls of Jute
JAM Paper 219-ft Green Jute Twine
While it may not seem as obvious as some of the others on this list, some jute rolls are another must-have for Kostovick. “You’ll find myriads of uses for it throughout the growing season, everything from weaving together trellises to tying up tomatoes and bunching up bouquets.”
Garden Tote or Apron
Some days in the garden may be more time- and labor-intensive than others, but regardless of what the day entails, you’ll always want your collection of essentials handy. This way, you can snip, prune and harvest as you wish. A garden tote or garden apron makes it easy to store your tools and keep your hands free to work. You can live without them, Allison shares, but you probably don’t want to. They will make your life a lot easier.
All those weeds, twigs and miscellaneous clippings need somewhere to go. Keep a garden bucket handy for any garden waste, Allison recommends. It will make garden clean-up a lot more seamless.
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