We asked three veteran gardeners to describe their No. 1 Favorite Tool and _ wouldn't you know it _ none of them could pick just one. Gardeners love their gizmos!
MONICA BRANDIES, Brandon
Planted her first garden, a Victory Garden, at age 7
Author of Florida Gardening: The Newcomer's Survival Guide
Brandies doesn't enter her garden without trowel in hand. "This is one tool that I have with me all the time," she says. "If I was limited to only one tool, it would have to be a trowel." Brandies buys a number of inexpensive trowels and keeps one by each door. "I have a tendency to lose my tools and so I don't invest in expensive equipment." Brandies laments the recent loss of her favorite red-handled scissors. "I would just slip them into my back pocket so they would be handy to deadhead, prune small plants, or cut flowers and foliage for my house. These small snips will have to be replaced shortly." She also relies on a strong pair of lopping shears. "I use those for pruning if my snips aren't big enough. Plant materials grow quickly in Florida and it's important to keep up with the pruning."
BILL ADRIAN, Seminole
Organic gardener for 60 years
Bulk buying chairman for Organic Matters garden club
Adrian puts his pruning shears to good use on a regular basis. "I usually use them daily," he says. "If I see something out of hand, I trim it back immediately." He also carries a small, sharp paring knife with him for harvesting vegetables. "My celery is great now, and I use the knife to cut off a stalk while I'm in the garden." Adrian's organic methods require a lot of compost, so he finds a chipper/shredder and Rototiller indispensable. "I use my chipper at least a couple times a week. My Rototiller I don't use as often, but I'm always thankful to have it when I need to work the soil." A short-handled hoe with a flat blade on one side and a pointed blade on the other comes in handy, too. "I can do most of the small cultivating chores with this tool. I use it quite a bit as I walk through my garden each day." Actually, Adrian uses his hands more than anything else. "After 35 years here, my soil is so good I do most of my daily gardening work with my hands."
SYDNEY PARK BROWN, Seffner
Urban horticulturist with the Hillsborough cooperative extension service
"A good pair of rachet handheld shears is a necessity," Brown says. "I received mine as a gift from a Master Gardeners class and use them continuously now." She also loves her irrigation shovel. "It's a shovel with a long, slender, rounded bottom. It doesn't hold a tremendous amount of dirt so it's easier to manage than the bigger shovels. It can be expensive because it has to be purchased at an irrigation supply or hardware store, but it's worth the expense." Another indispensable gardening item for Brown is her foam rubber kneeling pad. "I drag that all over the yard, since I seem to do most of my gardening on my knees." She's also a fan of the gardening apron. "The apron holds all of my small items, like hand tools and seeds. If I don't use my apron, I tend to leave items all over the yard and they get lost. I also use a scabbard so I don't misplace my hand shears."