Tools & Tests & Gardening Success

We're grateful for the small enthusiastic crowd who spent a drizzly Saturday with us during our first Farm in the City workshop, Tools and Tests. We covered basic soil structure and chemistry, how to take a soil test, and how to read a test report. Then we switched to tools and their care.

If you have a garden or are planning one, go outside, dig some holes, and get your soil tested. A soil test will reveal if you need to add amendments and which ones, the pH of your soil, and organic matter content. Auburn University will test your soil for $7 a sample, and their turnaround is fast. Send your soil on Monday, and you may have your results before the end of the week. You can find a link to Auburn's soil testing resources as well as lots of fun information about soils and tools below. Join us for our next Farm in the City Workshop, Planning and Propagation on Feb 17, 9-11. 

Links & Resources

Alabama State Extension Service/Auburn University Soil Testing Site - Go here for links to Auburn's soil testing forms and information for the garden along with forms for testing for heavy metals. 

How to evaluate the texture of your soil in 3 simple steps, Rodale’s Organic Life - This provides three simple, at-home tests to get a basic idea about how much sand, silt, clay and organic matter is in your soil.

Plant and Soil Sciences E-Library - Funded by the USDA and National Science Foundation, this resource is a bit overwhelming, but also wonderful if you want to really “dig into” soils. There is a “Home Study Course” that provides an introduction to soils. Get nerdy with the soil!

pH for the Garden, University of Vermont - Basic pH information with a list of ornamental plants, fruit trees, vegetables and their preferred pH.

Cover Crops for Alabama, Extension publication about choosing and growing cover crops. Includes a useful chart that evaluates each crop’s usefulness for things like attracting beneficial insects, decreasing compaction, and ability to scavenge for N-P-K (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium).

More than you ever wanted to know about tools and where to find them...

Selecting the Right Shovel, Video, Bob Denman, Fine Gardening - Learn all about shovels and how to pick the right shovel for you in 4 minutes. 

How to Use a Shovel Safely, Video, Bob Denman, Fine Gardening - Learn the proper way to dig a hole.  Seriously, there's a right way!

How to Sharpen Pruning Shears, A short YouTube video explains how to sharpen hand pruners. 

Sources for high-quality tools - buy the best tool you can afford & take care of it. It will last forever.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds - Sells harvest knives, stirrup hoes, colinear hoes, seeds and more.

Rogue Hoes - Heavy duty, long lasting hoes

Red Pig Tools - Former Corona tool designer and blacksmith makes hand forged garden tools and sells tools from other companies.

Hida Tools - Imports garden, woodworking and kitchen tools from Japan. Source for high quality weeding tools and Hori Hori garden knife.

Garden Tool Company - Source for American-made and European garden tools, lots of tool eye candy, a little beyond your farmer's budget, but fun to look at.

Earth Tools - KY company, may be the closest to us that sells high quality hand tools including Rogue tools.

Tool Care

Best Oil for Garden Tools? from Garden Tool Company

Garden Tool Care and Maintenance from Garden Tool Company, good tool cleaning summary

Make Your Own Self Cleaning Garden Tool Holder, plans for making a sand-and-oil tool cleaner. Use a larger container for larger tools. You can also use boiled linseed oil instead of mineral oil, and some people use motor oil.

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