Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Master Gardener: Everyone has a favorite garden tool

December 21, 2010 |

By Sarah Preiss-Farzanegan, M.D.
UCCE / El Dorado County Master Gardener

What is your favorite garden tool? The only tools that occupy the small corner of the shed designated for my gardening hobby are several different sized trowels, a pair of trauma shears, two pairs of pruning shears and a full-sized shovel. The rest of the shed is dedicated to my husband’s “gardening” tools: a gas-powered backpack leaf blower, wood chip mulcher, lawn mower, weed whacker, fertilizer cart, branch trimmer, one rake and two shovels. Obviously, we have very different definitions of gardening. And between the two of us we have a lot of tools in a very small shed.

It is easy to take for granted the wide variety of tools we have available to assist us in our gardening endeavors. There are tools for every possible outdoor task conveniently located at your local home and garden center. Within each category there are several different models as well, for every skill level and price range. A few short centuries ago, tools like these, shovels, rakes, etc., were custom made and hard to come by. People’s livelihoods directly depended upon their garden tools since they were used to cultivate the fields that fed their families. According to the Camden County Historical Society, in Camden, N.J., by the mid-17th century garden tools had evolved from simple, multipurpose agricultural devices into a wide range of implements designed for specific tasks such as hedge shears, pruning shears, cultivating forks, trowels and almost every non-mechanical tool we are familiar with today. So the next time you reach for your favorite garden tool, I encourage you to pause for a moment to acknowledge its deep historical roots.

My favorite tool is my wide, sharp hand trowel. It fits in my hand just right. Gripping it with all my strength trying to pry loose the stubborn rocks and roots to make way for my garden plants is a therapeutic adrenaline rush. It is my weapon in the fight against the chaos that would take over my carefully planned oasis of flowers and vegetables.

The way it slices through the soil is very satisfying. I am renovating and creating something amazing. It stirs up an intoxicating, earthy aroma that will permeate the rest of my day and perpetuate the peaceful calm instilled by my careful and vigorous digging. It is a handy ruler, with measured increments gorged into the metal blade that ensures I never sow a seed too deep to germinate. It doubles as a low-budget slingshot for the snails that somehow manage to climb several feet in and out of the raised beds every day; I admit I have not the heart to crush them.

My husband’s favorite tool is his two-cycle gas-powered motor that can be fitted with various attachments. Currently he has an edger, hedge trimmer, tiller and chainsaw. These are his most “practical” attachments at the moment and he has plans to add more superfluous models to his collection. He finds great satisfaction in maintaining neatness and order in the yard and somehow the loudness of his method is his meditation.

This small study group of two hardly proves anything, and in fact scientifically it proves nothing, but it does offer an interesting question. What does your favorite tool say about you? For example, I am determined to create an organized system with room to grow into controlled chaos as the plants flourish. My time spent in the garden is very meditative and involves careful planning of new plantings and inspection and maintenance of existing ones. My life is so busy and full of words and talking all day that I cherish the time alone or with my daughter. If my 2-year-old daughter is with me she likes to dig in a corner of a bed with her pink plastic spade, and every so often she wanders off to the slide or to snack on fresh basil, mint or tomatoes. I enjoy showing her the fruits of our labor and teaching her which tomatoes are ready to pick and how to water newly planted seeds.

My husband’s goal of keeping order in the yard has similar roots, yet his method is slightly different. He too, seems to meditate as he strides through the yard with his leaf blower on his back, enjoying his favorite rock playlist, and looks very happy to be dripping sweat pushing the mower up the hill. I see him tuning out the world and losing his worries in physical labor that produces immediately visible results.

You could say then that we have different means of reaching the same end. A state of mind where your balance is restored, you achieve a sense of accomplishment, your muscles are tired and you are in serious need of a shower. I wonder — no matter what your favorite tool  —  if we are all looking for the same thing in the end. If that is the case, then I think it matters more that you get outside and do it, whatever “it” is, in the best way that you know how, with whatever tool suits your fancy.

What is your favorite garden tool?

UCCE Master Gardeners will introduce you to pruning tools and techniques at the Saturday, Jan. 8,  class on “Pruning Fruit Tree.” The class is free and starts at 9 a.m.  Class location is the Veterans Memorial Building, 130 Placerville Drive in Placerville.

Master Gardeners are available to answer home gardening questions Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, by calling 530-621-5512. The office is located at 311 Fair Lane in Placerville. Walk-ins are welcome. For more information about our public education classes and activities, go to our Master Gardener Website at The schedule of classes for January through June is now available and can be downloaded from the Website.

With all this rain the hillsides are starting to green up and before you know it, spring will be here. Plan to come to the second Master Gardener Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, April 16, at the Veterans Memorial Building, 130 Placerville Drive in Placerville. The sale promises a great selection of perennials and annuals as well as vegetable starts. In addition, Master Gardeners will be giving demonstrations on popular gardening topics. Don’t miss it.



Master Gardner



Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3

Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3

Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3



My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4



GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment



Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8



Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5

Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5



Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2



Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Lisa Oliver Rose

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




Women’s Health

Love the skin you’re in

By Noel Stack | From Page: WH4

Dump stress and improve your health, productivity

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: WH7Comments are off for this post

Women’s Health Expo

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH8

Find the confidence you need to fight back

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH12

Our choices directly affect our health

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH14

They’re NOT your mother’s hearing devices!

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH17