Since we’re all about helping newbie gardeners get started without feeling overwhelmed, I put together a list of some of my favorite products that I use every day during the gardening season…
Fiskars Micro-Tip clippers are my favorite tool to use for harvesting or trimming my houseplants. I love these precision clippers. They are nice and sharp and easy to use. Over the years, I’ve purchased more expensive and fancier clippers, but I always find myself reaching for these little guys.
The Hori Hori tool is the mack daddy of gardening tools. I mean seriously, you could be weeding one minute, and fighting off zombies the next. Haha, ok that was a joke. But in all seriousness, the Hori Hori knife is one of my favorite all-purpose gardening tools. From cutting to digging to popping out weeds, this is an all-in-one tool that every gardener should own.
The CobraHead Weeder is the last hand weeding tool you will ever buy. I’ll be honest, I was a bit skeptical when I got my Cobrahead weeder (I got it as a free trial sample) because I thought it was “just another weeding tool” – but let me tell you, it’s one of the only tools I use now. Between this and the Hori Hori knife, you really don’t need much else for garden hand tools.
Neptune’s Harvest Fish Emulsion – In my quest to be 100% organic in my gardens, the hardest thing for me to find was a good organic fertilizer for my seedlings and gardens. I tried Neptune’s Harvest Fish Emulsion a few years ago, and OH MY – I could not believe the difference it made in the health and growth of my seedlings and plants. This is a must.
Pure Blend Tea is another awesome organic fertilizer I have used on my seedlings and garden plants. Fish emulsion can get a bit smelly when used indoors. Natural compost tea is a great alternative. I like to alternate, one feeding with fish emulsion, then water with pure water, then one feeding with compost tea, then pure water…etc. It’s been an amazing combo for my seedlings, houseplants and containers.
Earth worm castings (aka worm poop) is another type of awesome organic fertilizer for your garden and containers. I mean, what could be more natural than worm poop, right? You can add it to raised beds, vegetable gardens, houseplants, container plants… well really, you can add it to any plant.
Organic Pest Control
Diatomaceous Earth is a must for any gardener that values the environment and, like me, won’t use toxic synthetic pesticides in their garden. Diatomaceous Earth works as an organic pesticide because it gets under the shells of beetles (like those nasty Japanese beetles) and acts like bits of glass to cut them up and kill them. Sounds harsh, but it works.
Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild soap is another tool to have in your arsenal for fighting the bad bugs in your garden (and on your houseplants). Soapy water kills bugs on contact, and Dr. Bronner’s Baby Magic is organic, so I don’t have to worry about using harsh liquid soaps that contain chemicals and perfumes (and who knows what else). I use 1 tsp Dr. Bronner’s Soap per 1 liter of water. Put it in a spray bottle and spray directly on the bad bugs.
Neem Oil is a must for every gardener! Seriously, it works like magic, M.A.G.I.C! Believe me, I was skeptical when I first heard about how great neem oil works for combating pest infestations, mostly because it’s kinda spendy. But let me tell you, it is Worth. Every. Penny! It has been paramount in helping me rid my houseplants of bugs once and for all (my houseplants have been-bug free for 3 years!). I’ve also used it in the garden to ward off flea beetles on my seedlings, and it worked awesome.
Messina Wildlife Squirrel Stopper – I want to first point out that I’ve read the reviews on Amazon for this product, and they are pretty mixed – which I find very surprising because this product has worked really well for me. I also used the Rodent Stopper on my beans last year with really great results. I love this product line because it’s made from the oils of herbs and other plants, so it’s all natural (and smells wonderful). But please make sure to read the reviews and decide for yourself if you want to give it a try.
Salad Spinner – Ok, I know this seems like it might be an odd suggestion (and I got an eye-roll from the hubby when I put this on our wedding registry, ha, ha!), but I’m telling you I use my salad spinner All. The. Time!! It’s not only great for spin-drying salad greens, it’s perfect for herbs and other leafy greens too.
Kitchen compost bucket – Here is another product that I was slow to buy… and SO HAPPY that I finally did. I used to use a plastic ice cream bucket to collect my kitchen compost scraps. Can you say smelly (and don’t even get me started on the fruit flies, embarrassing!) I love, love this kitchen compost bucket. The filter really works to get rid of any smell (and keep out the fruit flies!) It’s super sturdy too, and the handle makes it easy to carry out to the compost bin. Love it!
Canning and Preserving
My pressure canner gets a ton of use during the busy harvesting season. I used to be afraid of trying a pressure canner (we’ve all heard horror stories I’m sure), but it makes canning stuff so easy, and much safer. I’ve put many hours on my pressure canner, and it turns out, it’s not so scary to use after all. In fact, I’ve come to love it!
If you’re new to canning (or wanting to get started), I highly, highly recommend getting a copy of the Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving. This has been my canning bible and has taught me step by step how to can specific vegetables from my garden. It also has really great recipes (I love the salsas and jams!) for canning too. A must for anyone who wants to learn how to can the vegetables from their garden. I own a well stained copy!
If you’ve been looking for a food dehydrator, the Excalibur Dehydrator is the top of the line. I did a looooooohahaot of research before I invested in this food dehydrator, and I have not been disappointed. This thing runs pretty much 27/7 in our kitchen during the harvest season, and it’s awesome! It’s quite an investment, so do your own research before you commit, but know this – I give it two thumbs up.
My food processor is another thing that gets a good workout during the harvesting and preserving season. It makes canning things like tomatoes and salsa a million times easier, and we also use it to make hot sauces with our peppers, and soups with various vegetables from the garden. Yum!
Backyard Garden Ponds
Barley Straw is nature’s way of keeping pond water clear and free from algae. I was pretty skeptical the first time I heard about using barley straw to kill the algae growth in my backyard garden pond, but desperate to try anything. It takes a few weeks, but it’s amazing how well it works. You can buy barley straw in a liquid form, or buy barley straw pellets just in case you don’t want a mini-bale of straw floating in your pond.
A floating pond de-icer is a must if you live in a cold climate like I do. I have both goldfish and hardy plants living in my backyard garden pond, and one of the most common questions I get asked is how I overwinter them. By far the easiest way to overwinter hardy fish and pond plants is by leaving them in the pond and keeping the water from freezing to the bottom.
Other Fun Stuff (to add to your wish list)
Flower post bristle brush – I got this as a gift a few years ago, and I love it. It’s not only cute, it’s functional. I use it to scrub all my pots before reusing them. I’ve had it 4 or 5 years and it still looks as good as new. Makes a great gift for any gardener (or for yourself, hint, hint).
Window Bird Feeder – If you have kids or cats or dogs, or if you simply love bird watching, then you need a window bird feeder. It’s hilarious to watch my cats sit at the window (stiff as a board) watching and chirping at the birds. Haha, I love it! It’s cheap entertainment.