( Originally Published 1909 )
EVERY person who becomes a gardener on a large or small scale should provide himself with the various implements which simplify and expedite the work to be done. In this age of machinery we cannot afford to do by hand that which can be done to better advantage by the use of tools which can be had for a reason-able price, and which do the work required of them rapidly and in a superior manner.
One of the most important and necessary of all garden implements is the cultivator or wheel-hoe. This tool makes weeding easy, enables one to do it in the shortest possible time, does away with the use of the ordinary hoe to a great extent, and has the merit of being equally useful in a large or small garden. In a half hour one can accomplish more with a cultivator than he can all day by ordinary manual labor, and he has the satisfaction of knowing that while his work has been done expeditiously, it has been done in a thoroughly satisfactory manner. There is no such thing as doing it slightingly when this implement is used. The ease of its operation adapts it admirably to the use of women and children, who can do just as good work with it as any man. It is so adjustable that it can be made to do its work in any manner required. In a minute it can be regulated to go deep into the soil, or simply scarify the surface. It can be adjusted to rows of any width,—in a word, it is a tool that can be made to do just what you want it to do, and is so simple in its construction and management that anyone can operate it with perfect success. No gardener can afford to be without one.
In purchasing a cultivator, I would advise getting the style having two wheels, as this enables one to cultivate both sides of a row at the same time. The single-wheel implement obliges one to go along the row twice in order to complete the cultivation of it. Both kinds are fitted with a small plow attachment, hoes, and wide and narrow teeth. These can be set at any desired angle, and in such a manner as to throw the soil from the row, or into it. There are many kinds of these cultivators on the market, and of course I can specify no particular kind or make, but, before purchasing, look about among the dealers and be sure to get a machine that is simple, practical, and positive in its operation, and by all means buy one that is capable of a wide range of work. A good cultivator will pay for itself in a single season, and will last indefinitely if properly cared for. It should be cleaned every time it is used, and kept under shelter when not in use. Any tool that is allowed to stand with soil adhering to it, or exposed to the weather, will soon become rusty, and then it will clog easily and work hard until use scours it clean. House your garden tools when they are not in use, especially in winter, and they will last three times as long as those which are neglected in this respect.
. Another useful implement in the garden is the seed drill. This machine enables you to drop the seed just where it is wanted, four, six, eight, or twelve inches apart, or in a continuous row. This is operated after the fashion of the cultivator, being similar in construction. There is a hand-seeder on the market which the owner of a small garden will find admirably adapted to his needs. It sows cabbage, carrot, celery, lettuce, radish, and all such seeds with perfect regularity, and does the work ten times as rapidly as it can be done by hand, and far more evenly. The quantity to be sown can be regulated, also the depth. It will sow a packet of seed, or a larger quantity, as desired. It is simple, easily understood, and cannot get out of order. While not absolutely necessary, it is a most desirable thing for any garden, and I would urge the use of it.
Every gardener ought to own a spade. The kind to get is one having a rather narrow blade, which should be thin, with a good cutting edge. A heavy, clumsy spade is out of place in the garden, and a " cheap spade,—cheap in quality as well as in manufacture,—is dear at any price. Keep the edge of the spade well filed and you will always be able to do good work easily, but let it get dull and you will find it a tiresome tool with which to work.
A long handled shovel will come in play almost every day. The shovel with a broad, square blade, turned up somewhat at the sides, is a very useful implement in the garden.
There should be a hoe in every garden. There is a hoe called the Warren,—probably so named because of its manufacturer,—which has a V-shaped blade, with the handle inserted in the centre. This gives a wide blade to use as desired, with a point at the other extremity. With this point it is possible to pick weeds away from vegetable seedlings almost as surely and safely as can be done with the fingers, and far more easily. This cannot be done with the ordinary wide-bladed hoe which has to be used with great caution in working among the weeds in the garden, and even then one is likely to cut off many of the seedlings with the weeds. With the V-shaped hoe, all can be done that is possible with the ordinary hoe, and it has a much wider range of usefulness than that tool. So useful is this style that I wonder why it is not universally employed.
There should also be an iron-toothed rake in every garden. Don't get the very cheap kind. Get one that has good material in it. See that its teeth are regular in length, and that that part facing the user has a slanting rather than a flat surface. A wooden-toothed rake is little better than nothing. One needs something heavy enough to break clods apart when applied with force.
Every gardener should be the owner of a weeding-hook. There are several styles on the market, many of them being so much alike in shape and method of operation that they are practically the sanie thing, though given different names. Nearly all are provided with metal fingers which penetrate the earth and uproot weeds very rapidly, with very little exertion on the part of the operator. With a little practice this can be done without disturbing the plants one is weeding among. The teeth or fingers of these weeders do double duty, as, in addition to pulling up the weeds, they stir the soil to the depth of an inch or two, thus helping to make it light and porous and making the use of the hoe unnecessary for this purpose. These hooks do away almost entirely with the unpleasant work of pulling weeds by hand, and enable one to do more in ten minutes than could be done in an hour with the fingers. Hand-weeding is slow, disagreeable work, and has done more to make gardening unpopular than all else combined. Another style of weeder has a curving blade with a sharp cutting edge. This shaves off the weeds instead of pulling them up. It will do very effective work, but is not as desirable, all things considered, as the hook.
There should be a wheelbarrow or handcart in every garden. Perhaps, for general use, the cart will be best, but for such heavy work as hauling manure the wheelbarrow is most satisfactory. Invest in both, if you can afford to do so.
All gardeners ought to provide themselves with a spraying apparatus, for, in these days of bugs, insects, and diseases of a fungoid nature, it is almost absolutely necessary to spray the plants if one would grow perfect crops.
There is a spray-pump which is operated by hand from a bucket of water, which does most excellent work and is as useful for washing windows, buggies, and putting out incipient fires as it is in the garden. There is also a device called an auto-sprayer, which is self-operating. By pumping air into a tank partly full of water, and opening a valve, a continuous spray will be thrown off for some time. This machine does very good work and is a great labor-saver.
Of course the reader understands that it is not absolutely necessary to employ all these implements in order to have a good garden. In times when a spade and hoe constituted the entire garden outfit, just as good vegetables were grown as can be grown today, but it required a good deal more labor to bring about the desired result. The fact that the use of labor-saving implements enables one to accomplish so much more in a short time, do it with greater ease, and do it just as well if not better, is the strong argument in their favor. And, too, most men, and especially boys, like to use machinery. Nine boys, I venture to say, can be made to take an interest in the garden where the implements I have mentioned are used, where one could be induced to work in it with simply a hoe and spade. Boys, like men, have a horror of pulling weeds, and the writer of this cannot say that he blames them for it, for he can easily remember the time when he would rather take a whipping than weed the garden for an hour. He very much doubts if he would have a garden now if all the work in it had to be done in the slow, hard, old-fashioned way. But since he has found out that by the use of the various implements calculated to make garden-work easy and expeditious as much can be done in an hour as could formerly be done in a day, and this without breaking his back by bending over beds and gripping weeds until his fingers are sore and stiff, he has come to look upon gardening operations as a recreation rather than something to be dreaded. It is not the part of wisdom to expend one's brawn and muscle on what a machine can be made to do, and the wise gardener, be he amateur or professional, will see that his garden is stocked with all kinds of labor-saving implements.