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When you finally get that bit of land you've been dreaming off, it's hard to keep those "The Good Life" fantasies at bay. You know - the ones where you are completely self-sufficient, living off the land and trading produce with your equally productive neighbours!
It can be tempting to buy a lot of expensive gardening tools to bring your dream to life. The reality is, you can start with a few wise gardening investments, without breaking the bank.
Here's our list of the first purchases you should consider when starting to cultivate your lot or hobby farm.
We all know the safety sign 'dial before you dig', but for gardeners 'test before you plant' should be high on the agenda. A soil meter that measures both the moisture content and pH levels of your soil can save you hours of toil and plenty of money. It will let you know whether your soil has excessive levels of acidity or alkalinity that stop plants from thriving. It will also help you understand whether your soil retains moisture well.
Moisture content can also affect the productivity of your soil and ability for plants to thrive. Moisture retention is determined by the natural proportions of clay, sand and silt in your locality as well as how you manage your soil. If your moisture levels are low, techniques that improve soil structure should help. Mixing in manure and especially compost can help improve the structure, while mulching and ground cover can slow evaporation and keep your soil moist for longer.
Test your soil's pH and moisture levels using a device such as this: Ph/Soil Moisture Meter to understand what you are dealing with and make plans before you plant.
Around the garden, you can never have too many tubs, trugs or buckets. They are easy to stack and store, can be used to transplant plants and bulbs, harvest fruit and veg, shift compost and manure, carry firewood, catch rain, entertain the kids and more.
Plastic tubs like this are the ultimate in a cheap and cheerful tool that you will repurpose and use for years. If you want something that is more environmentally friendly and will last you for years, check out some of the more robust recycled tubs on the market.
Once you've suffered the misery of wet, prune-like toes a couple of times, you'll really value an investment in a decent pair of gumboots or workboots (or both). Autumn and winter gardening is made much pleasanter if you can keep your feet dry and warm, which is why gumboots are the best choice. During the warmer moths you still want a quality boot, thats comfy and durable, but a lot less warm. This is when an investment in workboots can be perfect, especially for long work days in the garden. They also are mostly steel cap so if you are sorting out a garden bed or preparing for next years crops, you can be sure your toes are safe from shovels and hoes.
Ultra-cushion kneeler with memory foam technology. These are perfect for those jobs where you have to be on the ground for a long period of time.Whether you are gardening, decorating, scrubbing the floor or at a picnic on your farm, these guys are comfortable, practical, lightweight and easy to carry. It means saving your back from bending over all day and is just generally a lot comfier to do work on. (Plus if your working very hard - you could even use it for an afternoon nap!)
For any gardener these are perfect and it means you can be into your garden for longer!
It's a sinking feeling when your carefully cultivated crops become a delicious meal for your animals before you get a chance to taste them so it's time to say: 'I ain't afraid of no Goats!'. Good fences to contain your stock and keep them away from garden areas and road are one of the first pieces of infrastructure you want to set up. Check out our comprehensive article on farm fencing choices for ideas about what might suit you.
When you're in the garden constantly handling dirt, mulch, fertiliser and even insectides, it's a good idea to invest in some quality hand cleaner or soap. While most of the time you should have gloves, there are some times where you can't or you end up needing to take them off to handle chemicals or smaller items with more care.
Having a good soap scrub even one that hangs on the tap like the Gardeners Soap scrub, can help you clean up for when your husband or wife has made your lunch.
In the spirit of reusing as much of our waste as possible, consider a worm farm. If you don't have chickens (yet) to eat up your fruit and vegetable scraps, industrious little invertebrates are ready to help you out.
Find out more about starting a worm farm: Worm Farming: an introduction for the small farmer
You never know when you will need to snip some wire, prune a branch, open a bag of fertiliser or carry out another task in the garden that you need a handy implement for. A heavy duty, multi-use tool like a good Swiss Army Knife, a Leatherman, secateurs or one of these multi-tools will have you prepared for every handy situation throughout the day. If it has a bottle opener on it, all the better!
Protecting your gardening investment
As you get more confident and serious about your garden, you may want to gradually build your stash of tools. In our opinion, it's always better to invest in a high-quality tool that will stand the test of time, particularly when dealing with heavy duty equipment such as spades and shovels that will get punished.
When you've invested in decent tools, it pays to look after them well. Make it a habit to clean your tools after every use and hang them in a dry place. An easy tip for cleaning gardening equipment such as shovels is to keep a bucket filled with sand mixed with linseed oil in your garden shed. Stab the tool into the sand a few times to clean and oil it at the same time. It only takes a few second but will stop your metal implements from rusting. Wooden handles also benefit from oiling with linseed. For smaller stainless steel tools such as the multi-tool or Swiss Army Knife, you can wash in fresh water, dry thoroughly, then oil lightly with machine oil.
|Tags: The FARM Co General Farm Small Farm Management|