Tending your apple tree or cooking with apples means having the right tools to do the job in both the garden and the kitchen.
Below is a list of items to consider. If you don’t already have some of these items, please check our Resources about Apples for recommended suppliers for getting the right tools and equipment.
Apple-specific tools and equipment:
Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer: You can go the basic route with a peeler that’s good for both fruits and veggies, or you can get a table-top model that’s kind of like a lathe for apples. Lock the apple into position, turn the crank, and watch the skin come off in one long strip while another blade creates uniform slices. When you’re done turning, the only part of the apple left will be the core.
Apple Corer: If you’ve peeled your apple with a basic peeler, you probably want to take out the core. This tubular tool does the trick.
Apple Slicer: Core and slice your apple into wedges in one smooth movement. The better models have raised handles, so you don’t rap your knuckles on the counter on the downstroke.
Folding Saw: When your tree is young, or you’re working on pruning narrow branches, a folding saw can come in quite handy. Sometimes you need a smaller tool to do the job right.
Fruit Tree Watering Kit: This kit is a type of drip irrigation system that cuts the time it takes to water your tree. If you have more than one tree, this can be a real time saver. This works with trees planted in open land as well as container trees.
Grafting Tools: If you’re thinking of rejuvenating an existing tree with some new scions or you’re thinking of starting your apple tree from scratch with rootstock and scion, there are specialized tools for this. Can you make do with a good, sharp knife? Sure. But if you want tools that will make your work a little easier, they’re something to consider.
Harvest Basket: Get yourself a harvest basket with sides and bottom made of wire mesh. You’ll keep your apples well aired, plus you can rinse them off with the hose before you take them inside.
Loppers: As your apple tree grows, so will the branches. There will come a time when pruning shears just won’t cut it. Get yourself a sturdy pair of loppers.
Telescopic Fruit Picker: If you prefer to stay grounded while you pick from a tree whose apples are beyond your reach, a fruit picker is a great harvesting helper! A simple cutter lets you snip your apples and drop them into the harvest bag. Gather a few at a time so you don’t bruise your crop.
General gardening tools and equipment:
Containers and Pots
If you want to start plants indoors before the outdoor growing season commences, you can try several environmentally friendly and free ways to begin with materials you probably already have:
- Newspaper or brown-paper pots
- Egg cartons
- Toilet-paper rolls (yes, these work great!)
- Random containers, kitchen pans, or baking sheets (you might need holes drilled into the bottom for drainage)—if you have aging or rusting kitchen pans that you’re looking to replace, they make for great “starter pots” for getting your garden launched inside
- Starter trays and peat pots
Using a pair of garden gloves—and wearing long sleeves—when you’re tending to your plants is a good way to avoid skin irritation and to protect your fingers, hands, and arms. Get a comfortable pair of gloves that fit well, so you still have full dexterity in your garden.
A useful garden tool, the garden trowel is handy when filling your containers and when mixing compost and worm castings. Avoid cheap versions that can have flimsy handles that are prone to break. Even inferior metal trowels can bend in hard clay or rocky soil. Invest in a higher quality trowel, and you’ll have it for years!
Many plants thrive when watered slowly and deeply. While tedious and even sometimes difficult to do with a watering can, you might want to consider an irrigation method for keeping your plants slowly and deeply watered.
A standard sprinkler system is not the best solution—while easy to set up, the wide-ranging water coverage of a sprinkler can lead to wet plant leaves that promote diseases and can encourage weeds.
A drip-watering irrigation system that operates on a timer is one of the best irrigation solutions for watering plants. This type of system better controls how much water you use, minimizes water lost to evaporation, and more exactly directs water to where you want to soak your soil. While more expensive than a simple watering can, an investment in an irrigation system can pay off—specially to ensure proper watering when you’re at work or on vacation!
Pruners or Snippers
Wear your garden gloves while pruning, and be sure to get a set of pruners or snippers that are comfortable in your hand when cutting. Don’t skimp on this—you need something that cuts well and will endure through many seasons.
Some areas of the country experience drought conditions in the spring and summer, and some municipalities may impose watering bans; that means hand watering only. If you collect rainwater, you can put it to good use when it comes time to tend your plants. Some communities offer rain barrels at a special discount to encourage water conservation.
Every gardener—no matter what plants you’re tending—needs a spade, or even several of different sizes. Use your spade to move around compost, dig soil for your initial plant hole, and to keep your garden soil tidy.
Spray Pump or Bottle
To control the emergence or spread of plant diseases and pests, get a dedicated spray bottle for your potion to do the job. This is one thing you can go basic on—no need for anything fancy, as a simple plastic spray bottle is fine.
Watering cans allow you to better control exactly where the water is directed in your garden. Plant leaves and fruit don’t need water, the roots in the soil do. Get yourself a good-sized watering can, and have some fun finding a watering can with an interesting design that fits your personality. Also, you want one that has a comfortable grip.
A wheelbarrow makes it easy for you to move soil and mulch from plant to plant; and it works as an excellent mixing bowl when you’re combining the perfect soil blend. If you feel like a wheelbarrow is just a little over the top for your gardening needs, a 5-gallon bucket may suffice. Just make sure you have a good trowel to mix with.
Do you have any essential gardening tools you use that aren’t listed here? Please tell us which items you absolutely need for your gardening.