Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Essential Tools and Equipment for Growing and Enjoying Kale

Kale protected from pests under cover

Kale protected from pests under cover

Below is a list of items to consider. If you don’t already have some of these items, please check our Resources about Kale for recommended suppliers for acquiring the right tools and equipment.

Kale-specific tools and equipment:

Dehydrator: While this isn’t a kale-specific tool, it is an appliance you may want to consider if you enjoy low-fat, crunchy snacks. You can dehydrate foods in your oven, but it can take much longer—and you have to dedicate your oven space to your dehydrating projects. A dehydrator can sit on the counter and work while you do other things.

Frost Blanket: Frost blankets are made with tiny holes that allow water in while still retaining heat to protect your plants from frost. Be sure to secure your frost blankets all the way to ground level so no cold air seeps in from the bottom. No gardener should be without at least one frost blanket—unless, of course, you live in a frost-free zone.

Floating Row Cover: Much as a frost blanket can protect your young kale plants from a severe cold snap, a floating row cover can deflect jumping insects that want to feed on your plants.

Garden Snips: While you can just snap off your kale leaves as you harvest, more than one gardener has accidentally pulled their entire plant out of the ground. Garden snips are a more precise way to harvest your kale leaves.

Herb Stripper: If you have good knife skills, or you just enjoy ripping leaves from stems, you may not need an herb stripper. But this tool makes separating the leaves from the stems a quick and easy job.

Juicer: If you like making your own juices, a juicer can save you a lot of time and effort. Just keep in mind that a lot of juicers strip fruits and vegetables of much of their fiber. If you want to make nutritious smoothies and keep the fiber, consider getting a high-power blender.

Watering Kit: This kit is a type of drip irrigation system that cuts the time it takes to water your plants. If you have a long row, this can be a real time saver. You can even set up a system for plants you’re growing in containers.

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

Garden Gloves

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.

Garden Trowel

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!

Irrigation Equipment

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.

Rain Barrel

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.

Spade

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 Can

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.

Wheelbarrow

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.

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