TOOLS

A woman who had lost her leg below her knee had lunch with a friend who had lost both arms below her elbows.  Observing the difficulty her friend had eating, she quietly remarked, "Bend the spoon so it's more usable."  Then she took the spoon, put it against the edge of the table and pushed until it bent just enough that the bilateral arm amputee could eat more easily.

That's good advice for all of us.  Just "bend the spoon."  If a tool doesn't work for you, reshape it or replace it so you can do whatever you want to do.  Some tools are made especially for handicapped people. The question is, who is handicapped?  By the time most people reach adulthood, they have a touchy back, a bad knee or a shoulder that gives them fits.  Buy tools that will make your work easier, whether you have one or two legs, or even no legs. 

You'll save a lot of money in shipping costs and stand a better chance of getting exactly what you want if you buy locally.  Sadly not all tools are carried locally. 

Here are some that will make your life easier:

One of my favorite tools for pruning and garden cleanup is a " long-arm pruner" that extends my reach 39 inches.  It's from Lee Valley Tools. 

Dig holes without any  leg or back power.  Use a directed stream of water to do your work for you.  Florian carries a "Holey Moley" water powered hole digger.  Lee Valley Tools carries a water powered weeder, in two lengths so you could either use one standing, the other sitting.  That might be usable too as a hole digger. 

Lee Valley carries a U bar digger, with which you can loosen soil more deeply than using an ordinary spading fork.  Walt Nicke's Garden Talk carries a handform bent trowel. I've not used it.  I'm interested in Lee Valley's rock rake though, thinking it would be useful for potato harvests.  Several supply stores carry adjustable rakes, so they're probably available here in spring too. 

We use and love our four-way water manifold.  Lee Valley and Gardeners Supply carry those.  Coiled hoses are a lot easier to use than the heavy rubber hoses, but they do carry less water, and are useful only for hand watering.  Wands with a shut-off valve are also very useful.  If you use Walls O'Water, filling the pockets with water can be tedious and stressful on your back, but you can get nozzles like those they used to use to fill car radiators, with a thumb shut off valve. 

There's a  tool called a "trake," a three-pronged rake at one end, pointed trowel at the other that's very useful, especially if you're carrying tools in a scooter basket.  I bought mine years ago at a "good junk" store, but I see them advertised occasionally.  Walt Nicke's Garden Talk carries them.

A hand tool that has a mattock at one end and steel teeth at the other end is great for prying out weeds such as mallow.  I think those are available locally, but if not, Walt Nicke's Garden Talk carries them.  They also carry a tool made like giant salad tongs, called "Easy Gripper," used to pick up leaves, trimmings, etc. in the yard.

Many garden supply stores in the Treasure Valley carry the Japanese farmer's knife or weeding knife. Years ago, Don Wooton told me that was his favorite tool.  I bought one and didn't like the feel of it in my hand, but my husband loved it.  We gave one to Jim Schneider, who lives in the North End, and he said it's great because the serrated edge cuts through the thicket of fine roots that pervade North End soil. 

For pruning, ratchet hand pruners or loppers multiply your strength up to 700%.  At least that's the claim of Florian.  Those are widely available in this area too. 

Some things are worth their weight in gold.  In my opinion, my Ida-Hoe is (sorry you can't get them unless used, but the general idea is like a short-handled stirrup hoe).  A hand-sized Winged Weeder works just fine, but beware of cutting off your good plants when the blade is submerged in soil. Another treasure is an automatic-venting cold frame. One hour of forgetfulness may cook your plants. 

If you're ambulatory, and able to kneel and rise, treat yourself to some comfortable knee pads with velcro fasteners. 

Florian tools are at www.floriantools.com, Gardener's Supply at www.gardeners.com , Walt Nicke's Garden Talk at www.gardentalk.com , and Lee Valley Tools at www.leevalley.com .   

These books are excellent for gardeners: