When thinking of getting our hands into the soil and planting seeds or seedlings, images of a garden trowel, cultivator, and maybe even a small hand hoe might come to mind. The garden trowel is a trusted hand tool and a go-to for the HP maintenance team when working in the kitchen garden. A good garden trowel should have a sharpened edged that meets in a point to help cut easily into soil and a sturdy handle with a strong stem to avoid bending or breaking.
We use trowels for creating holes in our raised garden beds for transplanting seedlings, making lines in the soil for planting seeds, and as a garden scoop + spatula for mixing in garden amendments like coffee chaff, worms castings, and compost into pots or garden beds. In a pinch, a trowel can even be used to open soil bags by carefully using the sharp edge to score a line in the packaging. A good trowel is one of our essential garden tools.
And if you feel like indulging your garden-loving heart (and happen to mix a lot of soil like we do), we have fallen in love with a garden scoop. Similar to a kitchen scoop, the large scoop bowl can hold a lot of soil, compost, coffee chaff, or even water if needed, which makes potting up our terracotta pots or getting our garden beds ready each season a little easier (and less wasteful) than using our hands.
But a garden trowel needs to be paired with a few other soil-based tools to ensure you have all you need in your garden toolbox. A cultivator is a great tool in the kitchen garden. We use ours to turnover compost, mix soil between the seasons with fresh amendments, and to gently score soil for planting lots of root vegetable seeds. If you’re planting in-ground, a cultivator is a good hand tool to help break up and aerate compacted soil. You can also use it as a small hand rake to move mulch or large rocks into place.