Offbeat Garden Tools
Chopsticks in the Garden?
by SCMG Coby LaFayette-Kelleher
Chopsticks, clothespins and berry baskets. Bottomless cups, panty-hose and spoon rests.
For most people, these words mean household items, not gardening tools! But gardeners hear them and laugh and smile knowingly. That’s because in the world of gardening, these are “tools of the trade.”
As Master Gardeners, we share with you the latest scientifically-based gardening information from the University of California through their Cooperative Extension Office. However, once in a while we just like to make your gardening more efficient and enjoyable. In that spirit, we offer in the right column suggestions from individual Master Gardeners for tools and implements not originally intended for gardening, but very useful in the garden!
We hope that somewhere in our list of suggestions you’ll find an idea or tip that will be useful in your gardening. Chances are very good you’ve got many of the items listed in your home or garage. If not, your local hardware store, thrift shop or neighbor’s yard sale are all excellent places to look for items that you can re-use, re-purpose, or re-engineer into your very own “tools of the trade.”
Unusual Garden Tools
- Place berry baskets over sprouting seeds to keep them safe from birds.
- Use old plastic forks to lift seedlings during transplanting.
- When sowing seeds, mark rows with recycled plastic knives, chopsticks, or popsicle sticks.
- Keep loose seed contained in spoon rests during planting.
- Use tweezers for picking up or sorting small seeds.
- When setting cuttings, punch holes in the medium with chopsticks or cocktail stirrers.
- For those of you with horses, who habitually have a hood pick in your pocket – those hoof picks are great tools for loosening the tap roots of small weeds and making them super-easy to pull.
- Blend potting soil and amendments in cat litter boxes before filling pots and planter boxes.
- Cut the bottoms out of large red plastic cups and put them over small seedlings to protect them from birds.
- Wrap pieces of old hose around young trees to hold them to their stakes; use zip-ties to close the hose pieces. Just don’t tie them too tightly!
- Tie-up tomatoes, squash and gourds with panty hose or knee-high nylons; they are inexpensive and reusable.
- Keep garden gates closed and/or locked with carabiners.
- Turn old photo albums into collections of clippings of your favorite gardening tips.
- Fashion trellises for beans and climbing vines out of old panel fencing.
- Invert wire hanging baskets over fragile plants (like catnip) to protect from critters.
- Spray old rebar with bright colors and use it to mark paths or beds and to “guide” hoses around flower and vegetable beds.
- Remove tough weeds with a slice from a linoleum knife.
- Create a handy tote for gardening tools out of a plastic cat litter container.
- Attach shade cloth or row covers to hoops and frames with clothespins and binder clips.
- Use large, serrated kitchen knives (inexpensive ones from the hardware store) to root-prune root-bound perennials and shrubs.