10+ Fun and Useful Garden Tools for 2021 (that you’ll use season after season)

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Gardeners are always on the lookout for the next great garden tool or gadget. But we also know that not everything on our garden shelves gets used.

I’ve definitely had my share of garden tool flops that ended up in the donate bin. I also use some tools season after season — my “go-to” garden tools.

But in the last couple of years I’ve discovered some new favorites. Some are large and some are small, but if you’re looking for some unique garden ideas, I almost guarantee that this list will inspire you as you look toward to the next season. (Click here to listen to the podcast episode or continue reading.)

*Links below may contain affiliate links. I only recommend products I regularly use, and if you click through and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Greenstalk Vertical Planter

Greenstalk Vertical Planter with plants growing

I have embraced container gardening more and more over the past few year for many reasons, but I have often struggled with soil, the kind of container, mobility, and more.

But when the folks at Greenstalk Vertical Garden sent me one of their planters to try, I immediately fell in love with this unique way of growing.

In just a couple of hours, I assembled the planter and planted 30 fall plants. Over the course of a few months I harvested countless salads, and I can’t wait to try new plants in it in different seasons.

Though I have the 5-tier planter, you can choose a 3-tier option in a variety of colors. They also have a new planter with more shallow pockets for shallow-rooted plants like lettuce and flowers. Use the code JILL10 here to get $10 off any purchase of $75 or more.

Barnel Collapsible Spring Bucket

This Barnel Spring Bucket was a splurge purchase at a local garden show. You never know when impulse buys will work out, but in this case, it absolutely did!

Barnel Spring Bucket

The lightweight 19-gallon bucket easily collapses and opens when you need it or when you store it. I used it all season long. In the spring, it stayed by my side as I pulled weeds. In the summer and fall I used it to clear out spent plants.

The biggest plus to this handy bucket: its strength and durability. Its heavy-duty bottom stayed strong even when I dragged it across the garden, full with plant waste. The handy shoulder strap let me carry it like a duffel bag, and the handle on the bottom made it easy to dump the contents out.

This Barnel bucket was definitely one of those splurge purchases that paid off!

Rolling Garden Stool

Though I included this in another list of garden tools, I had to mention this one again. Though I don’t typically use it when tending to my garden beds, it’s the perfect seat for working with raised beds.

Sunnydaze Garden Cart

I love that I can keep it in my garden year-round and just roll it to wherever I need it next. Besides airing up the tires a few times, it’s a low-maintenance, heavy-duty garden stool that I use for many tedious garden tasks.

Hori-Hori Knife

When many gardeners suggested this tool, I decided to try it. After a couple of years of using it, I can tell you, they were right.

Broccoli Head being cut with Hori Hori knife

This multi-purpose garden knife can be used for transplanting, harvesting, dividing herbs, and more. I found it especially useful when transplanting into my straw bale garden, which required a bit more cutting power than my trowel.

I will warn you that it’s sharp! Once when harvesting I accidentally cut my finger and it sliced through my fingernail. I now use garden gloves whenever I use this knife for any kind of cutting…just to be on the safe side.

Fabric Pots

As I grow more vegetables and herbs in containers, I’ve especially enjoyed using fabric pots. Although their benefits are many, here are a few I’ve noticed:

  • lightweight; easy to move plants from one place to another
  • the roots “air prune,” so they don’t circle endlessly around the pot, becoming stressed
  • well-drained; never have to worry about “root rot” that comes from over-saturated soil
  • easy to store at the end of the season — they lay flat if you decide to empty and store for the winter
Spinach growing in fabric pots in front of raised bed and greenhouse
Spinach grows in these fabric pots in front of the raised bed.

Photo Box for Seed Storage

I can’t recall where I saw this idea, but several years ago I bought a photo box and transformed it into a seed package storage container. This little change made storing seeds immensely easier and more organized.

Photo Box for Seed Storage

The only seeds I don’t use this for are large seeds I save myself that won’t fit into small packets. For example, I usually save large quantities of okra, green bean, and black-eyed pea seeds. For those, I usually use mason jars. But for all other seeds in seed packets, or small seeds I store myself in small envelopes, this makes seed storage a breeze.

Soil Block Tool

Over the past two years I have transitioned to starting most of my seeds indoors using soil blocks. This was one of those methods I didn’t know if I would stick with, and the soil blocker isn’t a cheap investment. But now that I know I prefer using soil blocking over other typical seed starting methods, I’m glad I made the investment.

Soil blocking tool

Though they come in different sizes, I recommend starting out with the mini soil blocker. You can read more about the pros and cons of soil blocking here.

Organic Fertilizer

Maybe this isn’t a tool, but I’ve found that choosing organic fertilizers stumps a lot of gardeners. It stumped me, too. Do I even need it? If so, then what do I choose with the myriad of options available?

While I personally rely more on compost, there are three organic fertilizers I find myself reaching for season after season:

  • Garden Tone or Plant Tone — this all-purpose organic fertilizer is one I add to the soil at planting time for a slow-release supplement during the growing season.
  • Fish Emulsion — many plants can use a quick burst of nitrogen, and fish emulsion always fits the bill. I usually add this to tomatoes and peppers every couple of weeks until they begin flowering.
  • Organic REV — This new-to-me amendment has impressed me in what I’ve tried it with so far. Unlike organic fertilizers, this increases the soil biological activity, which is crucial for an organic garden. (Learn more here and use the code JILL10 to get 10% off.)

Camp Chef for Home Canning

Over the last few years, I’ve shifted almost all of my home canning to outdoors. By using this propane stove (meant more for camping), my water bath canning comes to a boil faster, and my pressure canning comes to pressure faster. Plus, having an electric glass stovetop, I knew I was taking a chance every time I chose to do my canning on it.

Another plus is not heating my house with canning in the middle of a hot summer. By canning outside on my patio in the cool of the morning or evening, my canning experience has become much more enjoyable.

NEW Complete Garden Planner and Journal

For the past few years I’ve used a printable garden planner and journal that I created myself.

I loved it so much that I decided to tweak it further and hire a graphic designer to make it that much more useful and attractive. I can’t wait to use this new-and-improved version of the Complete Garden Planner and Journal next season. It will take me from “planning to canning” and everything in between.

One thing I love about the printable planner and journal is that I can print only the pages I need and I can print multiples of what I may need more of.

This printable garden planner and journal is now available here!

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2 Comments

  1. ,Hi, I’m a second year gardener and last year I used straw bales. Will you be giving us any tips or advice on “straw bale gardening? Thanks ? B J

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