Got a veg patch? Check out these nifty tools and accessories
Homegrown food always tastes best
The wartime discourse has been drawn on pretty heavily during the pandemic. We're all facing an invisible enemy, making sacrifices, thanking those on the front line and so on. But how about we introduce another wartime adage: dig for victory?
If you've got a garden, balcony, rooftop or even a windowsill, you could be growing your own food, and let me tell you, everything tastes better when you've grown it yourself. Even boring stuff like potatoes.
Of course, the best part about taking up a new hobby is all the stuff you can buy, and gardening is no exception. Check out the following list of irresistible bits and bobs – even if you have never sown a seed you might find yourself tempted by these. Who says gardening gloves can't be worn casually, right?
1. RHS Flora and Fauna Gardening Gloves, £15.95
Who says function and form can't co-exist? Not me, that's for sure. These beautifully designed mitts from RHS are adorned with a rather fetching bird and bush style graphic. Crafted by Burgon & Ball and endorsed by The Royal Horticultural Society, these gloves are tough and durable as well as looking super stylish. They draw in at the wrist using elastic to fend off any friendly nettles or thorns from getting inside.
Available on Amazon here.
2. Japanese Carbon Steel Secateurs, £90
Are you the kind of person who obsesses over sleek, sexy and exotic knives for the kitchen? If so, then this is the perfect garden equivalent. These beautifully formed garden secateurs are made using Japanese carbon steel (any chef will tell you that's the gold standard). Hand-forged in Sanjo in the north of Japan, they have a highly elegant catch mechanism, a bright handle to ensure you don't lose them among the flowerbeds, and a very satisfying fully visible spring mechanism.
Available in Kew Gardens' store here.
3. Classic Steel Watering Can, £31
Are you the kind of person who has a certain rosy-eyed nostalgia for a simpler time? If so, then feast your eyes on this very quaint old watering can from stylish workwear brand Labour and Wait. It features an anti-spill top, a narrow, accurate spout and a classic army green paint job. No more winding your hosepipe in and out!
It's available on Labour and Wait here.
4. Spear and Jackson Traditional Digging Fork, £20
A decent fork might not be essential if you're tending to a few pots outside your window, but if you've got a proper garden then you can't go without it. For finding potatoes amongst the soil, and turning over hard earth, you need something sturdy that you can really put some weight behind. This Spear and Jackson fork has a fetching wooden handle, stainless steel forks and comes with a 10 year guarantee.
It's available on Argos here.
5. Carbon Steel Shears, £45
The good thing with simple design is there's very little to go wrong. With these shears from Labour and Wait, originally designed for shearing sheep, you can rest assured these will be in the family for some time. The large 13 cm razor sharp blades make for easy trimming of topiary or plants.
These are made by Britain's oldest garden tool manufacturer, and are handmade in 20 steps. The production process has been largely unchanged for the past 100 years, but don't worry, they've been made available to buy online.
Available through Labour and Wait's website, here.
6. Opinel Mushroom Knife, €20
There's something strangely satisfying about tools that are designed to do one very specific task, and this is precisely that kind of tool. Opinel produce a number of knives for the garden, and this one has been designed with the task of cutting and cleaning mushrooms in mind. As well as having the classic Opinel wooden handle and locking mechanism, this knife comes with a curve to assist with cutting mushrooms free from the ground, a toothed back for improved traction and a boar hair brush to remove dirt and grit from mushrooms.
With this in your back pocket, you can head into the countryside and forage yourself a delicious dinner – but make sure you're picking the right kinds of mushrooms.
Available direct from Opinel here.
7. Pot Tamper, £5.95
A question that often gets banded about in the gardening community is, if you haven't got a range of appropriately sized pot tampers, can you really call yourself a gardener? I'll leave the answer up to you, but for less than a tenner you can join the ranks of Monty Don and Toby Buckland with this pot tamper from Burgon and Ball. It's made from beech wood, and is available in a circular 8 cm guise, or in a rectangular shape for cell planters and seed trays. This firms and levels the compost before you sow your seed, which improves germination.
Available from Kew Gardens' online store here.
8. Simple Self Watering System, £13.95
I don't know about you, but my poor plants slip from my memory at least once or twice a week. Unwatered plants don't tend to last too long at all, so take the pressure off yourself with this nifty gravity-powered watering system, called Water From a Stone.
These rather pleasant looking pieces of glassware are hand blown, and disperse water for 3-4 days.
The process is simple:
1. Remove the cork and fill the stone with clean water and replace the cork.
2. Turn over and test to make sure water is coming out of the water release hole.
3. Place the stone in your planter with the cork facing down.
4. Make sure the stone is placed on a level surface with the water release hole not obstructed. Incorrect set-up will lead the water flowing out too fast or not at all.
5. Once the stone is in place tap it a few times to make sure water is flowing, the bubbles rising from the water release means water is following properly.
They are available on Kew Gardens' online store here.