Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Small Items Give Big Help in the Greenhouse

Small tools can be stowed in a bucket on the potting bench.

Confined spaces, like in most greenhouses, need organization. The goal when working—seed sowing, transplanting, potting up —is to be able to grab the best tool for the job as soon as you require it, and smaller sized tools are easier to store.  You can line them up, place them on a shelf, hang them on hooks, or bunch them in a container where you can always see them. That way, you’re much more likely to put them back for the next time. Here are a few that have stood the test of time for me. They will serve you well in the greenhouse.

A well worn bricklayer’s trowel has served many years in the greenhouse.

A Brick-layer’s Trowel – This tool is one of the handiest. Its pointed end works well for scraping any unwanted growth that appears on the soil surface of container plants without disturbing the roots. The flat sides are brilliant for cleaning off a potting table. Also good for planting small bulbs.  Not usually found in garden departments, the best trowels are drop-forged, with a continuous shaft from the handle. Look for the smallest.

The Dibby XL gets into the right spot for transplanting seedings.

The Little Dibby and the Dibby XL – Throw away that pencil, short stick, or rusted screwdriver that you were using for seed planting. The Little Dibby does a much better job. With a thoughtfully designed shape, both the small one and the larger Dibby XL are terrific for transplanting starts with less root disruption. And small seeds settle themselves into the tiny holes made by the Dibbys. Sized perfectly for the jobs they do, and in cheerful colors—harder to misplace—these are my new go-to tools to make my gardening life easier.

The Duck Weeder comes in handy for many jobs.

The Duck Weeder – For any cracks, or crevices—in greenhouse shelves, potting tables, floors—this is the tool to disrupt whatever grows in those tight spots. It’s only eight inches long, but the shape of the head easily hooks up moss and weeds between cracks. In many years, my Duck has held firmly to the sturdy handle with not a hint of loosening or breaking off.

These tiny snips fit perfectly in the hand.

Tiny Clippers – These ergonomically designed clippers are perfect for all the fussy jobs at the potting bench, like tidying spent foliage in container plants, and even thinning seedlings. The stainless-steel blades on these snips hold their cutting edge for a long time.

The superior design of this whisk broom makes sweeping up efficient and fast.

Whisk Broom – I received my broom (called a walis tambo) from my cousin, who grew up in the Philippines, and she knows the superiority of the design. It’s simply the best broom I’ve had—on benches, floors, wherever the dirt shows up—and I am messy when I’m working.