Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Back To-ol Basics

First, see: The Garden Shed

lol, I love it! Can I have one?

Browse anywhere on the net or a B&M store and it seems filled with tools that are 'must haves' for gardeners. Progress? I think not.

The plow? Excellent invention.
Cotton gin? Beautiful! Have you ever seen what picking by hand can do to flesh?
Combine? Hiram Moore changed harvesting forever.
Fertilizer? Unless you have perfect soil that will rejuvenate itself miraculously, gotta have it.

And what would gardeners do without the basics of wheelbarrows, rakes, trowels and hoes?(Hoes are definitely Carol's specialty, so what's up with her pic of a woman with a lawnmower?) Some of those first (now considered antique) , basic garden tools are still the best.

But the question is - why all those useless, frivolous tools that don't really accomplish much? If it's for the garden and for sale, we buy it. We subconsciously find our own personal excuses as to why we need it. And some of them are just plain silly! (Yes, tools and excuses.)

When I was a kid, it was gardening with the basics. Always. You put your back into it, darn it!

You plowed, raked, manured, seeded, weeded, thinned, sweated in the blazing 100 degree sun, sweated some more, picked and squished bugs, got a good dark tan, harvested, spent weeks canning and freezing and smiled with satisfaction when you consumed a good self-grown meal.

And you did it all by hand and mostly sliding along the rows on your butt with a homemade bushel basket. To this day I still find major personal satisfaction when I finally stumble into the house at dusk, exhausted, covered with dirt, mud, burdocks and sweat.

When did we begin to think gardening should be easy? Or that there should be twenty million tools stocked at our local store to make it so?

  • Bend over to pluck a weed by hand? Surely you jest!? They make those weed-pick-standing-up thingies now.
  • Squeeze that bug between my fingers? Ewww! That's what they make bug killer for!
  • Work with naturally hard soil? Ugh! Addatives, damnit, amendments!
  • Real cow and chicken manure? You're kidding, right? They make good stuff with additives in such pretty bags!
  • Heirloom seeds? What for? Those new genetically enhanced seeds are fab!

Now, I don't begrudge the people who use them! If you need them to make your gardening experience more enjoyable, so be it. I realize there are a percentage of people with physical problems that would find it impossible to have a garden without the help of these tools. I'm only taking into consideration, for this thought run-on, the people who are in no way physically incapasitated and able to do it without all this extra 'stuff'.

You hear a lot that the art of making the 'old' crafts are dying, or disappearing altogether. I consider gardening a form of art, or craft. Are the old ways dying? Disappearing? It amazes me that so much of what seems new in gardeing is really the old, tried and true. People are only just discovering now the techniques their grandparents, and their grandparents before them, have used for eons.

They'd gone out of fashion, suddenly returning as a new fad, probably to disappear for something deemed better, and to return to our grandchildren as a new idea. (The 'new' thing is stunting paperwhites with alcohol - my grandmother did the same thing ages ago, but with sugar water and pennies. I wish I had paid attention to what she was doing! I wonder when this will suddenly become a 'new' idea.)

Sometimes I wonder how much of the world's population would survive if there were some major cataclysmic event and we were forced to rely on our own gardening skills to subsist. Tools may not save us, but basic-known-forever knowledge probably would.


Carol said...

I agree, it is our knowledge about how to garden that will save us, not our tools. When it comes right down to it, just a few basic tools is all we really need. A good trowel, a well-made rake, a sharp shovel and one good hoe (maybe two?) But don't make me choose a favorite hoe! ;-0

Carol said...

Oh, and the reason I am not pictured with a hoe is because I couldn't find a picture of a woman with a hoe, but I'll keep looking!

sewobsessed said...

"But don't make me choose a favorite hoe! ;-0"

Oh my. Could you even choose one if you had to? lol.
And I figured you couldn't find a pic...I was just being a wise-arse.