Thursday, September 25, 2014

Homestead, Tools

Now your standing there looking at a beautiful piece of land, well fenced to keep critters out and you have spent hours poring  over seed selection. The next step is land preparation. For this your going to need tools. This has been one of the hardest things we have worked on.  I am like a  magpie..if it is shiny I want it! Do you realize how much shiny chrome, stainless steel and polished aluminum is in the garden section of a Hardware store?

We knew we wanted good quality tools that would last us for our lifetime. We knew we would need basic tools such as hoes, spades, trowels and the like but there are a lot of new designs and kinds of tolls that are tempting to try. We will need carts, wheel barrows and hoses. Making a list of tools was daunting. What do we really need, should we go with tried and true or should we try new and modern?

We will need hand tools and machinery such as a Tiller of some kind.
Yes Make a list

1- A power Unit

Do you want a small tractor or a two wheel walk behind tractor?  Ralph has an ancient Troy Bilt Tiller that he got brand new in 1986. It still does a wonderful job but it is getting old.

The Old Troybilt.

We know its days are limited so we are going to get a new Tiller. The old machine will be retired to work the smaller area of our kitchen and herb garden.

These Rear tined tillers have come a long way since 1986 and there are new and much bigger ones available. They come with a wide assortment of soil working attachments as well as things to cut hay, bush hog, chip and shred and even split wood. 

We looked into several makes and found a place called earthtools that sells and services and incredible assortment of Walk behind tractors and accessories for them.

Grillo 131 Diesel Walk Behind [Photo from Earthtools]

 This kind of machinery is a large investment so we wanted to get something that would last as well as be versatile for multiple uses. This Grillo is diesel and will run a generator as well as do all the basic garden and homestead work.

We also looked into small tractors. There are a lot of brands available so take your time and look around. Mahindra  tractors are well respected and of course there is Kubota, Kioti, Branson, and then the old Stand bys like Massey Ferguson and John Deere.  

For our needs the Walk behind tractors seemed more suited. The wide range of accessories gave them an advantage. The key is finding a power unit that meets your needs. There is a lot of good used equipment out there too. So again look around, you may be surprised at what you find.

2- Small and hand tools

Of course the other tools you will need also require an! Handtools, everyone has some of these, a shovel, a hoe perhaps? The key to getting hand tools is make sure they 'fit' you. Ralph bought me the most beautiful hoe for my birthday ages ago.  

I had a small cheap one I had found on sale at our hardware store. It was not top of the line but I liked it and the price was right. He surprised me with this fabulous high quality hoe. It is heavy and cuts weed so easily but it is way too big for me. The handle is too long and it makes hoeing very difficult for  me. I call it the MAN hoe. He can use it for ages and it "fits" him!

Ralph digging the hills for the peanuts with "The Man Hoe"

 You will need different tools for the bigger gardens that you will need for raised beds or your Kitchen garden. The three most useful small hand tools are a Trowel, a Small handfork and perhaps a small rake. There are many designs out there, some built for hand comfort some for weed removal so look into all types and find ones you like and that fit your hand and the job your doing with them.

Hand trowel

The basic set of bigger tools you will need are a Spade, a Spading Fork and a Hoe. We think these three tools will do almost all the hand work that needs doing.

The Spades come in a wide assortment of shapes and sizes. They can be inexpensive or High cost, again evaluate your needs and how long these tools will have to be used. is a wonderful site to learn more and to wallow in shiny garden tools! 

 Garden Spade 
 A hoe is an important tool for any gardener, they chop weeds, they pull earth to make hills and they earn their keep. Make sure the hoe you buy fits your hand, height and ability. I know that from the man hoe experience!

 Standard Hoe
There are a lot of different shaped hoes, we like the standard hoe, we just find it more versatile and an all around tool.  A tool that is too job specific is not always a good investment. If you are not using a tool it is both a waste of space and money.

We have a basic list of bigger tools.

A spade
A round mouth shovel
A rake
An axe
A pick
A garden fork or spading fork
A small saw
A mattock
A garden cart
A wheelbarow
A pair of garden shears

Of course this set of tools changes now and then when one breaks or wears out. Good tools are well worth the investment, they make your work easier and less frustrating. To have a successful homestead garden you need you be able to get a lot of work done and done well. Weeds are always lurking and keeping your garden soils well cared for helps you garden reach its top potential. The tools of the trade will get your garden growing!


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