I’m always eager to try a new gardening tool, hoping to find the secret that will make my gardening tasks easier or multiply my veggie harvest. But after years of looking for that magical tool, I’m approaching the realization that it probably doesn’t exist. You have to put in the time and try lots of different strategies to make your plants happy.
That said, through my experimenting I’ve learned which supplies are worth adding to your potting shed and which ones you should avoid. I’ve encountered bendy trowels, gardening gloves that fall apart after a few uses, and other tools that promised to save time but only created more work.
Now I’ve tidied up my collection and kept only the best tools and supplies that I consider necessities for any garden. These are the five types of supplies I recommend you always keep in your potting shed, and one item you can skip.
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LOTS of Gloves
Lightweight gloves are perfect for most gardening tasks. Since they are thin and flexible, they work well for handling tiny seeds and pulling little weeds as they pop up. Lately I’ve been using these gloves, recommended by Aimee at House on Nine, and I’m loving them!
I go through gardening gloves pretty fast, but so far these ones have been holding up well. No holes yet. If and when I do get holes in my gardening gloves, my favorite trick is to patch them up with strips of duct tape. Not the best look, but it will extend the life of your gloves.
For heavier duty projects, like shoveling large amounts of dirt into your garden beds, you’ll want some leather work gloves. These Carhartt gloves are strong and come in several sizes. Best of all, they’re plaid, so we’re talking major cuteness. Here are some for the guys, too.
I like to keep several pairs of gardening gloves in stock at my place. If your garden tends to be rainy like mine, your gloves will often be covered in mud. You can spray off the mud with a hose and set the gloves on your potting table to dry. By keeping a few extra gloves, you’ll always have a dry pair ready to wear.
Sturdy Hand Tools
Were you the kid that often accidentally broke crayons with your excessive grip when you were coloring? Because that was me, too. And I seem to apply that same aggression to gardening tools.
My former hand trowel is literally shaped like an S because I bent it in both directions. Maybe that says more about the poor quality of the tool than my remarkable strength. Hard to say.
If you happen to have fluffy soil, then cheaper hand tools might work. But if you’re planning on a lifetime of tending your garden, I’d recommend spending a little more for a quality set that won’t bend out of shape.
A Gardening Caddy (Especially If It Doubles as a Seat)
As you’re working in different garden beds throughout your yard, it helps to have an easy way to carry your tools around. Sometimes throwing them in a flower pot works well, or using a gardening apron with pockets like this one.
For longer days out in the garden, you might want to try a caddy that also serves as a place to rest. I use a little folding chair and caddy combo. The caddy has slots for tools and seed packs, plus a big compartment for larger items.
Just make sure to stow your tools with the handles up and the tines down, or else that seat won’t be so cozy. Also note that this caddy comes with the trowel that I bent out of shape. The caddy seat is worth buying, but don’t buy it for the trowels.
Buffet of Plant Food
People say it’s easy to grow lettuce, so my first year of gardening I planted several varieties of spinach and lettuce. Two months later I had maybe two-inch tall sprouts and empty salad plates on the table.
Finally I realized the fill dirt I had put in my raised beds was lacking nutrients, and I needed to feed my plants. They’re hungry when they’re growing.
Once I started feeding my plants, I managed to get a few servings of salads out of that garden. Now I keep a selection of soil amendments in my potting shed so I always have the food my plants need.
Here are some basics you’ll probably want to keep in your potting shed for a well-rounded garden:
- All-purpose plant food to add to your watering can and provide a quick boost to your garden.
- Blood meal fertilizer to feed leafy greens and plants that need nitrogen.
- Bone meal fertilizer to feed root vegetables like onions, which need phosphorus.
- Tomato fertilizer for your salsa and marinara garden.
- Citrus fertilizer for your lemon drop and margarita trees.
Don’t Forget the Best Gardening Tool of All
This last tool could be the most important. Are you thinking I’m going to say something like love? Dedication? Hard work? Those are fine, but they don’t beat a basic pair of scissors.
Most days this was all that my Grandma Julie used in her garden. You would be amazed at what she could accomplish with scissors and, OK, a dash of hard work.
With scissors, you can cut weed barrier, prune your plants or reap your latest harvest. You can also poke holes in your soil for air flow, loosen the dirt or carve a trough for planting seeds. Don’t underestimate those scissors!
…And You Can Skip This Gardening Tool
The day I planted hyacinth bulbs was one of my most miserable days in the garden. I used one of these small bulb planters, thinking it was going to help me be more efficient by only digging out the precise spots where the bulbs would go. Waste of time and energy.
Hyacinths need to be planted 6-8 inches deep in the fall when the soil is beyond firm. Again, if you have fluffy soil maybe this tool will work for you. But I spent several frustrating hours trying to push a small bulb planter through six inches of hard soil for 30 bulbs. I only got the bulbs about 3 inches deep, and I later re-planted them the right way…with a shovel.
Skip the handheld bulb planter. Seriously, it is so much easier to just dig a large hole six inches deep and scatter all of your bulbs inside. My bulb planter is going to the donation pile because it brings me zero joy.
But I love everything else on this list. I hope you found something new that can improve your gardening routine. These items aren’t magical, but they are reliable tools to help you work to get the garden you want.