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Essential Tools & Materials for New Gardeners


* starred items are the ONLY essential tools you need to get started!

* Shovel

Trowel (hand shovel)

Rakes (flexible vs. “fixed” tines)

Buckets (1-5 gallon)

Gloves (pref. lightweight leather)

Plastic tarp

Wheelbarrow or garden cart

Row cover (for frost or insect protection)

Stakes (can be bamboo, rebar, or other sturdy sticks)

Trellis material (plastic, string, or wire mesh)

Tomato cages (can use stakes but can often be found for free)

String or twine

Hose and/or *watering can (or even use a 1-gal. water jug)

* Compost (bought or homemade/scavenged materials, see below)

All-purpose fertilizer

WHERE DO YOU FIND INEXPENSIVE TOOLS & MATERIALS? Add your suggestions in the comments, below!

  • Goodwill/VOA/large thrift shops for repurposed kitchen/garden tools

  • Collect dry tree leaves, esp. oak, maple, beech, etc. and shred with mower or by hand

  • Use the stems of tall ornamental grass (dead and dry in spring) as a substitute for straw mulch (see photos)

  • Some townships may offer free/discounted biosolid compost - good for ornamental plants, NOT edibles

  • Horse stables or friends with chickens or rabbits for manure/compost (you may have to let it “age” a few months before use)

  • GARAGE SALES - especially in older and/or wealthier neighborhoods

  • FB Marketplace/Craigslist/Freecycle - can set up alerts or search on items

  • FB neighborhood gardening groups - tools, materials, plants

  • OFFER to split costs with others

  • ASK if folks want to make space in their garage/sheds by helping them unload materials

  • OFFER to return produce, flowers, etc. in exchange for tools & materials

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