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Alex Fernandez

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  • Essentials for the tool shed

    GARDENING books are great at telling us what to do. Occasionally they tell us how. Rarely do they descend to specific information on the subject of tools: which, where, why, when. Gardeners could cripple themselves carrying sacks of manure and compost from driveway to garden before discovering a wheelbarrow, by which time they would be past caring whether to rototill or use a pick and garden fork. So, in the course of considering my own recommendations, I went to a selection of California gardeners to ask what their favorite tools are, when they use them, for what and why. Among the 10 of us, a fascinating pattern of preferences emerged, along with enough gimmicky brand names (surely E-Z-Chore is an oxymoron?) to drive an English teacher to violence. For every tool there was a purpose. The most repeated observation: If it hurts to do a job in the garden, you are probably using the wrong tool.