It has become a bit of a nomenclature to use Tiny in front of everything. The only thing tiny in our lives and our homestead is actually the footprint of our home. The rest is to scale for a sustainable homestead. Our land is just over a square acre. On it we are preparing multiple raised beds, one large edible garden, an herb garden, two chicken coops, a goat pen, a nice 3-season deck space, and a small workshop. Oh, and did I mention our earth oven and solar shower area? What about our rainwater harvester? So to say we are tiny in all aspects is a tad misleading. We are stewards of the land and most of our projects are fully sustainable and use almost entirely recycled/upcycled products. And with the weather on much of the East coast being as balmy as it was this past weekend, we felt it was time to get started on some new, seasonal projects.
We tilled up, rowed out, and planted our edible garden. We landscaped the raised beds and had some turkey littler brought in to supplement the soil. We did some more clearing on our land and splitting the wood for next year. But with so many project going seemingly at once it got me to thinking about what tools I had found to be irreplaceable in our homesteading adventures.
To that end I’ve prepared a list of some essential garden/yard tools and accessories.
- (otherwise) Bagged materials. Topsoil, compost, mulch, and other planting materials are sold in bags by volume (cubic feet). Most hardware stores, feed ‘n seed warehouses, and even box stores carry the more common bags. If you are looking for organic you may have to visit a local garden center. If a large quantity is called for―say, a few dozen bags―save money by buying in bulk (unbagged) and have the nursery deliver the goods to you by truck.
- Seed starters and small pots. Part of year-round gardening and large scale gardening is cultivating your own seeds. Nothing helps with this quite like seed starter sets and small pots. This way you can raise your seeds in a healthy fashion, controlling all the elements, until they are ready to transplant out of doors.
- Long-handled tools. Until I was just about thirty years old I had never heard of a grubbing hoe or a bush axe. Now they are as common to my vocabulary as “Five-dollar footlong” is to Jared. For me this arsenal involves a metal rake, a garden rake, a hoe, a bush axe, a machete, a round-point shovel, and a squared shovel. The key, I think, is the quality of the handle. A good, solid tool has a handle that extends over the shank of the tool and is made of a hard wood. They are pricey but so worth the investment.
- Water system. If you are on city water then a good, heavy-duty hose is a must. I would also encourage using soaker hoses with a digital timer to control proper irrigation for your garden(s). If you are on well water then you may want to experiment with different types of watering including zone irrigation and sprinkler irrigation. We use a rainwater harvesting system that relies on gravity feed to water the soil beneath our plants. Whatever the case, gardens must have water; not too much and not too little.
- Patience. Good gardens do not grow overnight. Neither does your knowledge of them. It takes time, experimentation, a willingness to learn, and patience. That is perhaps the best tool you can have.
What are your essential tools though? What can no garden go without? We each have our own personal “old faithful.” I’d love to hear yours and even how you came to rely so much on it.