Sunday, July 9, 2017

May the Fork Be With You

Also your spade, your trowel, your secateurs, your gardening gloves, your cell phone...

What do you carry around with you as you work in the garden? And how do you carry it? I've been gardening for decades and the perfect solution still eludes me.

I've seen, and tried, a number of arrangements for carrying gardening tools around. One is to attach them to a belt. I think this might work very well if you aren't elderly and slightly plump. In my case an actual belt was most uncomfortable, especially when I bent double as I do constantly. Not to mention that doing so made the secateurs slide out of their fancy holder and bang me on the chin.

Attaching things to my waistband didn't work much better. The weight pulled my shorts down and the phone banged into the trowel. I think wearing things at your waist only works if you never bend over. You only work standing or kneeling. Since kneeling only works if you are going to be working in one spot for some time and I tend to have to cover a lot more ground than that, I don't think wearing my tools is going to work.

I've tried keeping them in the wheelbarrow. This works fine, right until you pile weeds or other debris on top, then dump the lot on the compost heap, and only later think, 'hmmm, where is my trowel...'. Not a good solution either.

You can buy charming canvas tool carriers. A pocket for each tool. Space to add accessories such as sharpeners, pens, labels and so on. They're lovely in the catalogue, the shop and the garden shed. In the field they sag, fall over, get wet and muddy and accumulate dead spiders. And putting the tools back in is such a pain that you tend not to do it and the secateurs get lost under the peony bush.

A kind person once gave me an antique wooden tool box which has a nifty wooden carrying handle. Sadly, it is so heavy it pretty much has to go in the wheelbarrow, which sort of negates its usefulness. I like it at Christmas, though, as it looks great filled with greenery and pine cones.

Lately, I've been using a basket my daughter gave me for Mother's Day. The basket wasn't the gift, it was what the gift came in - but the chocolates are eaten, the jam has been spread, the flowers have  wilted and only the basket remains. It's nothing fancy, not even painted, but it has a nice high handle and seems large enough to hold most of the things I need. Putting stuff in is easy - just toss whatever it is on top and don't worry about it. The handle of the trowel sticks up because the basket is just a little bit too small and the secateurs are easy to see because they are red. The phone lurks in the bottom and the sweat-mopping towel lies on top. I can hang it on the wheelbarrow handle or a tree branch, put it down beside my feet, or put it on a rock.

Not waterproof, though. Today it was sunny so Rosie (the new puppy) and I were out pulling grass out of the Goldenrods on the Hillside when a large black cloud suddenly pulled up overhead and drenched us. I took Rosie in and dried her off and then remembered the basket. Oops. Luckily the towel had kept my cell phone more or less dry. Note to self: put the darn phone in something rain-proof.

Nor is it Rosie-proof. Usually she goes after the towel (she likes fabric, hey, she's a girl) but the other day she went after the trowel. She likes the rubber handle, very chewy. Unfortunately she took it away for a good chomping session and it took me three days to find it again.

But other than that, it seems to be working. It holds my trowel, my secateurs, cell phone (now in a nice sturdy case), a ball of string, some labels, a waterproof pen, and a towel. Gardening gloves just have to take their chances - either on my hands or piled on top in the basket. Notebook I've given up on. Proper weeding requires a sort of zen-like state of mind, so I'm not going to worry about important thoughts that need writing down.

Have I just invented the Canadian version of the English 'trug'?