By Karen Cohen
Every gardener knows and expects that this time of the year, the plant and seed catalogs come pouring in the mailbox and into your email box. Most of us actually enjoy receiving the annual assorted selections from various companies. Winter afternoons are set aside for tea, cookies, and catalog research in my house. Slippered and sweatered, I wonder, “What shall I grow for 2023?” That is the exact question every gardener faces now. N’est-ce pas?
Not only seed and plant selection happens in these dreary months ahead but also a thorough assessment of our garden implements. Anything that can make gardening more comfortable is always on my wish list along with gadgets that pump up production.
Tools are important to have readily on hand, in good working order, and sharp if needed. One of my most loved tools is my ramp digger. That’s what I use it for. A handheld tiller/digger, or mattock tiller is what manufacturers call it. A short handle has two basic garden tools on the end made of iron or stainless steel. One side is a two or three tine fork with a sharp slicing/digging blade across from it, all attached to a long wooden handle. Very easy to hack into dirt cutting right through weeds, I use the forked end to gently pull out the ramps without injuring the long roots. This tool is handy for any bulbs, garlic included, when you want to carefully pry something from the soil. Mine has a 26 inch wooden handle and I clip it onto a belt loop/hook when I am climbing up and down hills to gather ramps.
Two years ago, I figured (wrong!) that it was a pain to carry it by hand along with my bucket up and down steep inclines. I needed two hands to navigate the slippery slopes. So I hurled my trusty tool into the air down a long shot between a grove of trees. I had tied a sturdy rope around trees to help me get down and back up as a makeshift handrail and that part worked just great! Don’t you know when I got to the bottom of the creek bank to the spot where I thought I had thrown my ramp digger, it was nowhere to be found. Piles of fallen leaves, 12 inches deep from the surrounding forest, covered the ground completely. Frankly, all the trees looked identical in early spring. I also realized that my flying tool probably bounced a bunch when it hit the ground and ricocheted off into unknown territory. Like looking for a needle in a haystack, I gave up looking under every leaf underfoot and pulled myself back to the road, head hanging down in misery. How was I to tell my husband that our very favorite tool was gone? It wasn’t stolen or misplaced, instead it was recklessly pitched into the woods by me, who had never considered the final outcome. I ordered another one for him as a Christmas present! He and I got over my misdeed.
My other very favorite item which is part of my everyday routine of weeding is my scoot and do, I don’t throw it anywhere, I roll it carefully! A small seat on rolly wheels has a flip open lid to store a few tools under the lid and really helps my back. I scoot along as I do my chores. “Hello Gov’nor!” Rolling up and down my garden beds, planting seeds, pulling out weeds, and working in compost, I can’t help but wonder if they make these battery powered like the fancy new expensive bikes everyone raves about! Of course, at my age, even sitting for too long will lock up my knee joints! Daily yoga stretches before heading out to the garden keep me somewhat limber.
Can anyone tell me where to buy that special oil that the tin man used in the Wizard of Oz? That could help a lot when I’m tooling around!
(Karen Cohen is a self-proclaimed Mistress (NOT Master) of her own organic garden, also a pet and nature lover, and avid explorer. Please email your tips, comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy gardening!)