‘Really important’: How create the perfect tool trolley – ‘simple and common-sense’ tips
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Let’s be honest! Gardening is great fun, gives us a full-body workout and connects us with nature, but it can be hard work at times. Knowing when to water, how much to water, when to feed, when to collect seed, when to sow seeds, how to get rid of weeds, or what tool you need for the job can be a little daunting, especially if new to gardening.
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I believe that a clear mind and a set of goals are all you need to keep you on the right track in the garden, but keeping your garden tools organised, pots clean and in easy reach, plants supported either with frames or bamboo canes and string, or just knowing where everything is in the garden will not only make your gardening jobs easier, but will also make your time in the garden more enjoyable.
When I showed my tool trolley on BBC Morning Live and BBC Gardeners’ World I was inundated with questions as to where to buy it or what is the best trolley to buy.
The most important thing to remember is that a tool trolley keeps all your tools in one place, so that when you are in the garden you don’t have to keep going back and forth to the house or shed in search of the next tool.
A trolley on wheels means that you can move it around the greenhouse and garden with ease. Hard wheels that will not puncture are best as they will last a long time. Pockets for tools such as secateurs, hand trowels, plant labels, string and more mean you don’t have to rummage for them at the bottom of a large box.
For larger tools, a bucket is ideal for sitting them in. The bucket can also be used for collected weeds, soil or water. While a good ergonomic handle will make it easier to manoeuvre it across grass or paving.
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If you cannot find a trolley, then a box or wooden crate will do just as well for the smaller items. If the box or crate has handles, then it will make lifting easier and carrying more comfortable. If it’s made from wood and has no handle, simply drill two holes on each opposite end and thread cord or rope through to create the handles.
Then cover the cord or rope in pipe insulation or foam toggles used in swimming pools for a soft, good grip finish.
If you have difficulty with grip, then consider buying some silicone handles, the type used for frying pans. These can be bought from most kitchen supply shops or pound shops. Slip them over the plastic or wooden handles of trowels, forks and other gardening tools to give you a good grip.
You can even use different coloured silicone handles for several types of tools, i.e., red for trowels, yellow for hand forks, etc.
It’s also really important to find the right tools for you, which feel comfortable in the hand. When buying new tools from a garden centre go around the centre carrying them, swapping them between each hand and if after 20 minutes they still feel good, haven’t tired your hands and arms then you’ve found the right tools for you.
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I know it’s tempting to borrow friends’ and family’s tools, but just remember that they might be perfect for them, but not necessarily for you.
Borrowing tools (as long as you give them back and don’t get too attached to them) is a great way to keep the gardening costs down. Perhaps organise a local ‘tool-swap-group’ in your neighbourhood. It will also be a fantastic way to get to know your neighbours and share gardening tips and concerns.
Silicone matting is ideal for placing things on so that they don’t roll off. I use my silicone matting when using an outside potting bench, to prevent pots and pencils from ending up on the floor, out of reach. You can even use the matting under kneeling pads to give them extra grip. Place the matting in the bottom of your wooden toolbox or crate and you will minimize the amount of movement inside, keeping your tools more organised.
For additional comfort in the garden pop along to your local camping or outdoor store. Here you’ll find roll out matting and carpets which have a waterproof underside. Perfect for kneeling or sitting on when weeding or planting.
Small camping stools make ideal perching spots and camping sinks can turn an ordinary garden tap with a hose connector into an outside washing station.
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Wind-up or battery-powered lights can be used to help you get around when the daylight levels start to drop. They are lightweight, last a long time and are normally shatter-proof if accidentally dropped.
You may also find useful carts or trolleys that can be adapted for garden uses and don’t forget to pick up a handful of carabiners and elastic ties. These will allow you to hang items from belt loops, attach tools to hooks and so much more.
A plastic container with a lid, kept in a cool place, is perfect for all your seed packets or collected seed from the garden, especially if you keep the small silicone bags that come with deliveries to keep moisture trapped. Remember, however, at the end of the year to go through your seeds and either swap with friends and family, or if they have passed the use by date throw them away.
You can do a water test to see the viability of your seed. Place your seeds into a glass of water. Leave them for 15 minutes. If the seeds sink, they are still viable; if they float, they most likely will not sprout. A simple, but effective test.
If you love growing your own plants from seed, you’ll need to transplant the seedlings in spring and early summer individually into 9cm or 11cm pots to grow on. Clean each pot with hot water and a little disinfectant and leave to dry.
Then stack your pots into each other and then lay them down horizontally onto your staging in the greenhouse or on shelves in your potting shed or cupboard in the kitchen with the open mouth of the pots facing towards you. You can easily pile each stack to create several layers. The pots are then easy to get to and by having the mouth facing you, you can easily slide out the pots when you need them.
When we are gardening, we often create a mess or have rubbish to throw away. Not often supplied with a greenhouse or a potting shed, it’s important to remember to add a bin. Old seed packets, bits of string, paper or broken plastic pots can then be discarded and the whole bin emptied into your wheelie bins, sorting out the material for recycling as you go. Alternatively, have 3 bins: one with a blue lid for plastics and glass; one with a red lid for paper and card; and a final bin with a green lid for garden waste that can be added to your compost heaps.
If like me, you like to label your plants, especially for newly sown seeds then you’ll need to store your plant labels. Whether re-usable plastic or wooden, plant labels can be kept in an empty plastic or terracotta pot, along with a pencil, on a shelf or on your greenhouse staging. Remember to have a pencil sharpener or knife to hand as well.
By following these simple and common-sense organisational tips you’ll enjoy your garden even more, and the next time to reach for a garden hand trowel it will be right where you need it.
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