I’ve been meaning for a while now to write a post about some of my favorite tools, equipment, etc. around the farm. So here they are’ in no particular order. Each description will tell you why I like the item.
1) Drip irrigation system
I have a t-tape system from DripWorks. I love this system because once it’s out in the field, watering is literally a matter of turning the hose on or off. Our field is too big to irrigate all at once on our residential well, but I have valves installed on each row so I can just irrigate whichever rows I prefer on a given day. And when I run out of valves, I just run a little extra t-tape at the end of each row so I can switch rows manually- still not too hard to do.
There are a couple pitfalls of the system. First, it’s a pain to pull all the t-tape out of the field in the fall. We’re going to experiment with t-tape winders this year. Second, mice chew on the stuff both out in the field and when it’s in storage, so there is always mending to do. Third, it can be a pain to cultivate around. This year I got around that problem by putting it out really late, but that meant I was watering in transplants by hand and I HATE DOING THAT.
2) The stirrup hoe
Oh, how I love the stirrup hoe. With smallish weeds and dry soil, this thing makes cultivating actually kind of fun. It slices just under the surface of the soil like a razor blade and the weeds become dessicated. It also works very well for hacking at bigger weeds, better than a regular hoe. I have a Glaser hoe blade with a super-long handle that I got from Johnny’s. An extra-long handle means you can stand up when you hoe and it’s much easier on the back.
3) Felco #2 pruners
My first “favorite tool” is Felco #2 pruners. I love the red handle to keep them from getting lost in the garden. I love how they cut everything from a tree branch to tiny flower stems with relative ease. I first used these at a job where I was regularly pruning roses with them. During Christmas Tree Season at the same job, they were my favorite tool to cut up tree branches for making ornamental fir and pine bundles. We used many different types of pruners at that job and the Felcos were always taken first! I use them now for cutting flowers, bramble canes, and giant weeds of all kinds. They even cut twine if they are sharp (I only sharpen mine once a year or so…)
4) My troy-bilt rototiller from 1979.
Usually I get aggravated with older power equipment because it’s hard to start, smoky, loud, and breaks a lot. But I can start this rototiller myself, and it has a recoil start! It’s simple to use, and only aggravates me when I have to cut long weeds out of the tines or when it dumps gas on the ground (ok, it has a little carb issue.) I can rototill between all of my rows and not use an entire tank of gas. And I like the way it looks, sitting out in the field with a galvanized washtub over the engine to protect it from rain (not that we’ve had any rain lately.)
5) My cheap harvesting knives
I bought a couple cheap harvesting knives last year. One was advertised as a broccoli knife, and one was a lettuce knife I think. They are both from Johnny’s. I have a small serrated one with a red handle, and a bigger straight knife with a brown handle. The brown handle blends in with the dirt too well, but I love the knife because it cuts through lettuce like butter. And greens. And my finger! Ouch. The serrated knife is nice for broccoli, okra, and summer squash, and I am looking forward to using it on pumpkins, etc. this fall.
6) The rotary mower
It’s like mowing, but faster, and with an added element of PTO danger. What’s not to like?