RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Every gardener worth his or her salt has a stable of essential tools. Spade? Check. Rake? Check. Pruning shears? Check. Clove Oil? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need the stuff (especially if your garden is overrun with poison ivy). While the following five tools—most of which are favorites of the staff at Organic Gardening magazine—might not top your list of basics, they all deserve a place on even the beginning gardener’s belt. Best of all, they’re each especially handy for striving organic gardeners and anyone aiming to keep as many chemicals out of their yard as possible.
# 1: Hula hoe.Also known as a stirrup hoe, this tool makes weeding a little less of a chore. The stirrup-shaped blade swivels back and forth like the hips of a hula dancer (hence the name), slicing weed roots below the soil line. Because it’s a long-handled tool, you can cut out weeds while standing, which is a huge back saver. And the blade oscillates back and forth, so it works both when you pull it toward you and when you push it away, making it easy to maneuver in tight spaces between plants and along the edge of flower beds. When the blade starts to dull, just pop it off and replace it with a new one.