Working your garlic garden is a lot easier when you have the right tools for the job. And you need the right tools in your kitchen, too, for being able to store and prepare fresh garlic from your garden. Here is a list of items to consider. If you don’t already have some of these items, please check our Resources section at the end of this Collection for some recommended suppliers. And remember, many of these items can be helpful to you for all of your gardening needs—not just for garlic.
Floating Row Covers
Floating row covers are made by placing garden fabric over garlic plants to protect against pests and very cold weather. Garden fabric lets in rain and sunlight, but won’t absorb moisture, so your plants won’t mold or mildew. You can insert half hoops over your garlic rows or beds and drape the fabric over them, or simply place the fabric over the plants. It’s light enough not to crush the plants; just make sure you leave enough slack so that the garlic stems and leaves can grow freely.
Harvested garlic is best stored in a cool, dry area in your kitchen—but, not in the refrigerator. Refrigeration destroys fresh garlic’s flavor and texture, and the added moisture of the fridge can make the bulbs moldy. A clay-pot style garlic keeper is a great solution—clay won’t easily accumulate moisture, and the side holes permit air in to also keep your garlic bulbs dry. With a cover, a garlic keeper will also ensure your garlic bulbs are kept in a dark storage space to help retain their flavor and texture. Plus, an attractive garlic keeper can spruce up your counter-top space.
Many recipes call for crushed garlic, and using a garlic press is the best way to efficiently crush your garlic. And, believe it or not, you have choices for a garlic press! There’s the traditional handle-style garlic press with a bin and piston for pressing and forcing cloves of garlic through a grid of small holes—most of these types of garlic presses also come with a matching grid of pins for cleaning out the holes. Or, to avoid the handle-pressing, try a rolling garlic press that rolls across the peeled cloves and pushes the garlic through a similar grid—but, you don’t have to squeeze … and you can more easily access the grid for cleaning. A rolling garlic press is a bit easier on your hands.
- Tip: Most recipes call for using peeled garlic cloves. Don’t fall for the variety of useless gadgets that promise to remove the skin—the best way to remove the skin from garlic cloves is to use your large chef’s knife, and press the flat blade against cloves on your counter to smash them a bit; this will loosen the skin, so it’s easy to remove.
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.
Do you have any essential gardening tools you use that aren’t listed here? Please tell us which items you absolutely need for your garlic gardening.