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Growing Good Food at Home

6 Essential Gardening Tools for Beginners to Buy in February

If gardening is on your mind this spring and you need a short list of essential gardening tools to purchase before the spring rush, these will equip you to hit the ground running.

Now that it’s February, we’re only a hop skip and a jump until the tulips start springing up where I live in the Northeast, the fragrant sign that winter is finally over. But by the time they’re in bloom, most of the gardening supply stores, including the farmers co-op down the street from me, are sold out of the most essential gardening tools, or at least any specific ones that I want.

For example, each year I seem to grow more tomatoes as I dig deeper into different heirlooms and varieties I want to try. So each year I buy more tomato cages, and I know if I were to waltz in high on the warmth of a 65-degree day in March, I’d be out of luck. The first warm day after winter is the day everyone goes to get their gardening supplies, and even the online stores sell out of the high-quality stuff.

Seeds are another example. If you want to find some more rare seeds, they’ll begin selling out in January and February, so start there with your wishlist of wants and needs for the upcoming gardening season.

That’s why now is a great time to stock up on all the things you think you’ll need. And you’ll get a little garden shopping therapy out of it while you’re eagerly anticipating seed-starting time.

Whether you’re a new gardener ready to tackle the upcoming season, or just need a reminder of what to replace, this list of essential gardening tools for beginners is a great place to start.

Working in garden

Gloves

Even if you like to dig in the dirt with your bare hands, there are plenty of spine-covered friends growing in your garden that you’ll want gloves for, like pumpkin vines and even cucumbers. Stock up on a few cheap pairs you won’t mind losing or ruining. On the cheap side, you can get them for $5, on the more expensive side you can get a pair at Williams Sonoma or Anthropologie for $35, but you’re usually just paying for the look. A leather or suede palm is a necessity, and if they’re waterproof, that’s a plus too.

Trowel

Trowel

A trowel can be used for just about any kind of digging, and there are different shapes depending on the types of soil you’re working with, but the most helpful feature some offer are measurements. Get yourself a trowel that indicates how deep you’ve dug, because this will be more helpful than you think, when you start transplanting your seedlings into the ground.

Basket of gardening tools

Hoe

A hoe is a great tool to turn your soil, and it’s a great way to keep weeds away all summer long if you’re consistent and just go out every day or two and run it through the areas where weeds tend to pop up.

Tomato cage

Tomato cage

If you’re growing tomatoes, cages will help you grow them upward, rather than outward. Tomatoes aren’t great at supporting their own weight once the fruit begin to ripen, so unless you want ground tomatoes, you’ll want a cage for each of your plants.

Shears

Shears

This goes without saying, but you’ll need shears to cut lots of things in a food garden. Some veggies, like beans, require clipping because pulling can damage the plant. If your plants end up with powdery mildew or another disease, you’ll need them for that too. I recommend using a little rubbing alcohol to clean your shears after working on diseased plants, as you won’t want to risk spreading disease to healthy plants.

Trellis

Trellis

If you plan to grow anything with vines, you’ll need a trellis. You can build your own, or buy one pre-made. If you want to grow pole beans you’ll definitely need a trellis, and they can also come in handy for squash and cucumbers. Many varieties can grow up and around a sturdy trellis if you guide them. This will save space in your garden and also reduce the risk of disease.

What do you consider to be essential gardening tools? Do you have any questions? Do you recommend any fun gadgets? We’d love to hear your favorites in the comments below.

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