Are you interested in starting a garden but you don’t quite know which tools to get? Don’t worry, we have you covered.
Long-time gardener Stephanie Mullins recommends that new gardeners slow their rush to the hardware store. Mullins is the programme coordinator at Cape Town-based permaculture non-profit SEED, and curates and teaches gardening courses for both children and adults. She introduces them to the principals of permaculture so they can develop resilience in a food-insecure environment.
Here is her advice for novice gardeners:
Your most basic tool is a plan
Mullins finds that, often, novice gardeners give up because they think they just don’t have green fingers. But she finds that generally, their gardens fail due to a lack of knowledge and research.
“A plan is very important because it tells you what to plant, when and how to plant it.”
“Even if you just do a little bit of a plan, the plan will encourage you to do research. The more you know going into [gardening], the better your chances of success would be.”
Start with what you have
“Don’t buy any tools until your garden is established. Once you see what you need, maybe buy the little fork, or the little spade, but you don’t need it until much later. So, I would say, leave it until you see that you need it.”
Mullins encourages new and established gardeners to upcycle, especially as gardening tools can be quite pricey. She especially recommends using plastic items. “Maybe use an old plastic yoghurt container to do some of the scooping and digging.
“Any kind of plastic that you can’t use again; it would be worth just cutting it into a shape so that you can use it.”
“Look at what’s around you and then imagine how you can reshape that specific plastic item. Because we can’t really do much with plastic, think about how you can transform that into something to use in the garden.”
Pruning tools are key
One of the most basic tools gardeners need are secateurs, or even loppers, depending on what they are planting. Mullins says these tools are used to perform one of the most important functions in the garden: pruning. “Secateurs will help you with pruning and pruning really encourages growth within your plants. But if you can’t afford it in the beginning, a very sharp pair of scissors, mostly those kitchen scissors, would do just fine.”
Don’t rush the process!
As a final word, she says that easy does it. “Gardening takes willingness and motivation. It also takes time – out of every day, out of every week, and out of every month. [To garden successfully], you need to make sure you understand that.”