There's no shortage of garden tasks in the fall, and having the proper tools to get the job makes all the difference in the world! That's why our team has put together a list of some of their favorites to help you garden with confidence this fall.
Ren's Favorite: Bulb Planter
Fall is the perfect time for planting, and bulbs are no exception. As temperatures begin to moderate, many plants slow their growth above ground and invest more energy into root development beneath the soil line, and this provides gardeners with the perfect window to get plants established before the cold sets in. This is particularly important for bulbs, many of which need a winter chill period to set blooms for the following spring, but may freeze without roots to protect them. Bulbs are a wise investment in your landscape, but we admit that digging dozens of individual planting holes can quickly start to feel like a chore. That's where a bulb planter can come in handy!
What Ren Loves About This Tool:
Whereas with a shovel, you are often fighting to keep soil out of the hole you just dug, a bulb planter helps you easily remove a clean soil plug from the ground. Then, all you have to do is pop your bulb into the hole and replace the plug! Ren chose this particular model because its size is compatible with a wide range of bulbs, and its short handle makes it great for working close to the ground. There are, however, other sizes meant for planting smaller bulbs like crocuses, and even a version with a handle designed for standing use.
Tom's Favorite: Rain Wand
Fall is also the best time to plant many larger shrubs and trees, and even though in the Pacific Northwest we can generally count on fall rains to help us water in our new plants, unless you are planting dry-climate natives like Pacific Madrone, you will almost certainly need to supplement nature's watering schedule. A rain wand watering hose attachment like this one from Dram is Tom's top pick for making sure your plants get off to the best start in your landscape.
What Tom Loves About This Tool:
The way the shower head on this wand mimics rainfall helps to minimize soil disturbance, which is especially important when watering a newly-planted area where the soil has just been worked. Tom also appreciates the increased maneuverability and control offered by the long wand attachment and the thumb-adjustable valve on this model, which allows you to easily maintain any level of flow without the muscle fatigue of trigger-type mechanisms. You know we believe in these rain wands because they're the same ones we use around the Farm!
Darla's Favorite: Hori-Hori Knife
A gardener's best kept secret is that not every "new" plant is new to your garden. Fall is the perfect time to divide spring-blooming perennials to expand your collection and create cohesive repetition in your garden. Even if you aren't dividing your plants to make more, crowded clumps often need to be thinned and reinvigorated to perform their best in the garden, and the hori-hori knife is up to the task.
What Darla Loves About This Tool:
Darla was quick to call dibs on her favorite tool for this blog post — and she had to be, because there was no shortage of Cornell Farm team members willing to vouch for the hori-hori knife. Hailing from Japan, this ingenious tool doubles as both a garden knife and a hand trowel, but Darla notes that it is the combination of these features that makes it the tool for dividing perennials, plus plenty more. Cut, saw, dig, pry — this tool does it all! And it even has demarcations to help you measure soil depth at planting time, which is great for bulbs. Her favorite is a model comes with a traditional wooden handle and a sleek leather sheath that clips to your tool belt for easy access.
Lily's Favorite: Felco Pruners
Gardening isn't just about adding new plants; it also means caring for those already in place. While most major pruning on woody plants is performed in the winter or shortly after the plant has flowered, there is always something in need of a little pruning. And if you garden in containers near high-traffic areas like your doorway or patio, you know that your annuals and perennials can often use a snip here and there to keep them looking lush. Felco model 2 pruners are Lily's tool for the job!
What Lily Loves About This Tool:
Swiss construction means these hand pruners are built to last, and they can be taken apart to be cleaned, sharpened, or have their blades replaced. These are the perfect tool for making selective cuts on branches up to 3/4 of an inch in diameter. In our production greenhouses, Lily makes sure to have a pair on her at all times.
Ezra's Favorite: Loppers
Sometimes fall cleanup means catching up on tasks like tackling that pesky patch of blackberries that's encroaching from your neighbor's yard. For cutting larger branches — or anytime you need greater reach — Ezra recommends a pair of loppers.
What Ezra Loves About This Tool:
Loppers are an old, reliable garden tool, but they definitely shouldn't be overlooked! Ezra is the first to attest that they make cleanup tasks around the Farm much easier, and because they can tackle canes and branches up to 2 inches in diameter, they fill a useful niche between hand-pruners and a branch saw.
No matter the season, Cornell Farm is always here to help gardeners in the Portland area with your garden supply needs, from tools to plants and everything in between. Our staff are happy to answer questions about any of the tools they're using around the Farm, so feel free to stop us!