Tools for Food Production

So we all know where half the fruits and vegetables in the US are grown right? California. Currently experiencing some massive drought problems. You are growing some food this year right? I think you’ll be better off if you have some closer and cheaper options for your weekly salads at least, and if some of your roasting and soup vegetables come out of the garden, that’s all the better.

So how much garden are we talking here? Let’s just say, you ain’t gonna make a dent with a container garden. 1000 square feet will put a good dent in your fruits and vegetable needs. You might need something closer to 5000 feet if you want to cover all of your fruit and vegetable needs. If you start talking about covering grains too, you’ll need more than an acre.

Do you have the tools to see all of that food put in the ground, the weeds kept at bay and the harvest eventually gathered? If you’re looking at one shovel, a hand trowel and a leaf rake, the answer is no.

You need a couple good hoes. A big sharp one, maybe one on a wheel, and a smaller hoe, for precision work around crops. I know, I know, it’s not as sexy as something with a motor and spinning wheels and whirring blades.  But just like food prices, fuel prices are doing nothing but going up. There’s no need to add to your production costs, just to move some dirt around or disturb weed roots.  Learn the proper technique, spend some money on an ergonomically designed hoe, and enjoy the shoulder and arm muscles you’ll develop.

Get a good hand held combo tool.  I have one with a small hoe on one side and a little 3 fingered claw on the other, and it is really great in the tight spacing I occasionally employ in my salad gardens.

Sure, you can harvest into grocery bags or 5 gallon buckets.  But, eventually you’ll need proper containers to hold all the garden goodness. Baskets and burlap bags, some suitable for your fridge, some suitable for you basement or root cellar.  Shelves and drying racks for curing. For fruit, I kinda cheat, I save plastic containers from the large yogurts, cottage cheeses or whatever, and I use those to hold the fruit in small batches in the fridge.

If you go into the grain side of things, you should try a type of sickle. Humans harvested a lot of grain before the invention of the combine, and sickles were popular for good reason.

Other food growers – Find them. There are some nearby. They’ll be the ones with large portions of their lawns turned under. Knowing more food growers means knowing more people with tools to borrow. More people to lend a hand for larger projects, maybe people with new or different transplants to trade for some of your extras.

Having the right tools in hand can make all the difference when you try that hand at growing your family’s food. Don’t let poor design or manufacturing get in the way of the hard work that needs to be done.

The best tool is always your head though. Get out there, get some practice in and learn some valuable lessons as quickly as you can.  Anyone got a specific tool they want to recommend? Shout out in the comments!

– Calamity Jane

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6 comments… add one
  • Road Warrior May 20, 2014, 7:57 am

    Nice! I really need a good hoe and to learn to use it. Right now I just have a smaller raised bed, but it needs to be de-weeded like crazy…I let it grow up last year when the baby and ensuing craziness came along.

    But i have aims to till up a sizeable section of lawn this year and that hoe is gonna earn its paycheck!!!

    • Calamity Jane May 20, 2014, 9:44 am

      Hoes are great for weeding. Take the hoe out every couple of weeks, and disturb the top inch or two of soil in between your rows or blocks. You’ll be chopping up little baby weeds. It’s super easy and relatively quick.
      I’ve even taken out sod with a hoe, but that is not a beginner’s exercise. :-D

  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. May 20, 2014, 8:20 am

    Wheelbarrow, because moving heaving items from here to there is always a task on demand. No flat tire, steel yoke and take care of the bucket – invaluable. This is a multi-use item so buy it like you mean it. :^)

    Mattocks of various sizes. These have a blades on both sides, rotated 90 degrees. We have several sizes, light 20″ handled Swiss military to heavy trench digging (boy do I need my 20 year old arms back! :^)

    Hawkbilled bladed knife. I don’t recall the exact name, but has a hooked blade that allows the user to cut pulling the knife towards them. Many times has a shackle and is often used to cut carpet – darn, I forget the name.

    Grape hoe. Fantastic tool, learn its uses and you’ll wonder why you didn’t buy one before. Here is a link to various hoe designs.

    • Calamity Jane May 20, 2014, 9:23 am

      Yes! A wheelbarrow. I make do right now, with smaller piles carried by hand, 5 gallon buckets and occasionally dragging piles in tarps. Or borrowing my neighbor’s. But yes, that one is high on my list.
      I’ve even been checking out some of the chinese wheelbarrow designs. Those are pretty cool looking, but I think beyond my construction know-how.

  • Glacialhills May 21, 2014, 2:18 pm

    A stirrup hoe or a winged weeder hoe. They use a different back and fourth motion than a digging hoe.With them, you cut the tiny weeds off right at the surface without disturbing all of the buried weed seeds so they wont germinate. After the initial first deep till, you don’t want to keep deep cultivating, turning up all of the dormant weed seeds. After the first few weeks of weed sprouting following a deep till they will taper off as long as you don’t hoe deep. Also a two wheeled cart works better than a mason barrow for the garden. But either is better than none. Also Lots or garden hose…look at garage sales for used heavy duty hose still in good shape…for practically free.cause carrying buckets to water a garden will just about kill you. even without power you can gravity feed water hoses and rain barrels.

  • Shootit May 22, 2014, 2:03 pm

    Black plastic – good for sterilizing areas of ground. Lots of 5 gallon buckets – millions of uses, this year we used them to protect our tomato plants from cold at night and wind a couple of days. Bricks – to hold down your plastic, buckets, edging, paths, etc. Pallets – We used them to build composting bins. Pitch Fork – turning your compost. Cattle panels – We make 3 sided tomato cages and also use them for climbing peas.


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