For each of the tasks generated by the cultivation and maintenance of an orchard, we must always use the cultivation tools corresponding to each job. An important part of the success of any crop depends on the availability and use of these tools.
Below we will describe a very basic range of them within all varieties and models of tools that there are for the practice of horticulture and plant care in general. These tools must be sufficient to be able to face the challenge of cultivating a family garden or an urban garden and enjoy it.
There are versatile tools that can be used for more than one job, while others are specific to a single function. The vast majority of them are manual and simple to use, of which we are going to mention here only the power tiller and the chainsaw, like power tools, would deviate from the norm.
Therefore, as what we are going to deal with are going to be tools, we will divide them into four sections defined by their main characteristic: power tools, hand tools, long handle tools, pruning or cutting tools, and we will leave a fifth section which we will call complementary tools and utensils.
Powered mechanical tools
The power tiller would be the main mechanical motor tool used in horticulture, a classic of the orchard. This will only be necessary if the dimensions of the orchard are important and provided that the crop is in direct contact with the soil. With this motorized tool, we will save the heavy work of manual tilling of the soil.
A power tiller is basically a machine that tills the soil using metal blades, bent at the end that contacts the soil and that is joined to two horizontal axes, this part of the power tiller is the strawberry. This cutter rotates driven by an engine that can be gasoline or electric. As the blades rotate, they rub against the ground, lifting up the soil and removing it. At the same time that it moves forward, it bats and crumbles the soil, in this way the necessary passes through the cultivation area are given until obtaining a loose textured soil free of clods.
The power tiller works best with slightly damp soil, ideal a day or two after it has rained when the water has filtered into deeper layers. You should never be tilling with waterlogged or muddy soils. When the soil is very dry, it will be harder to lift and beat the soil, and the wear and tear on the power tiller are greater, increasing the risk of damage.
The work carried out by a power tiller is very effective but delicate at the same time, as it requires tact in its handling, above all because of the power that these machines have. Although the milling cutter is very well protected by metal protectors, like any abrasive machine and driven by a motor force, whether by explosion or electricity, it must be used with caution and always perform the necessary maintenance to prevent accidents and/or breakdowns.
If it is used for the first time, it will be necessary to learn the basic parts and it will be necessary to practice until you get enough skill to get the most out of the machine and a uniform result in the soil of the plot worked.
The power tiller models vary by size and power, and by more or fewer accessories. We will have to choose one according to the need generated by the size of the area to plough and the conditions of the soil. Tillage tasks are not usually done very often, in fact, it should be the least done, that would be a symptom that we manage well in the orchard, as there are different ways to keep the soil with a correct texture for the proper development of crops without the need to pass the power tiller frequently.
Therefore, as it is not a tool that we are going to use very often, before spending the good amount of money that a power tiller costs, it is a very good option to rent it in some shop or workshop of agricultural machinery or gardening. Even better if we have a family member or acquaintance who has one to borrow.
The other mechanical motor tool to stand out in the tasks of the orchard is the chainsaw. It has a basic function but, for reasons similar to those of the power tiller, we must be very careful and tactful when working with it so as not to harm ourselves or others, nor to make irreparable damage. If you have never used one, it is always better than the first time you do it with someone close by who is familiar with this revolutionary tool. Wear the right protection: helmet, goggles and gloves. Pay attention to its elements, maintenance and greasing, and get advice on the forms and techniques of use and pruning.
It is equipped for pruning and felling fruit trees and trees in general. The chainsaw will greatly facilitate the vast work of felling trees and cutting their trunks and branches. In pruning trees and pruning maintenance of hedges and shrubs will greatly streamline its execution compared to the same work done with hand tools such as scissors, saws or saws.
The five basic hand tools we will need for small maintenance and cultivar jobs such as weeding, aeration and soil removal, transplanting and sowing, pot filling and various jobs in the growing space.
It is a small shovel of concave surface finished in point and of the short handle. Designed to transplant the seedlings to the orchard or to the final growing area. For terraces and balconies is ideal for moving the soil, fill pots and planters and mix the substrate. There are usually two models that differ in the width of its blade 80-60 mm.
A hand hoe is an indispensable tool both in the orchard and in the garden. It consists of a handle of about 40 cm with a rectangular metal blade at one end, with a cutting front, which forms a closed-angle with the handle. Among many tasks that are carried out with it are the removal and digging of small quantities of soil, weeding, airing and maintaining the soil in good condition for irrigation and ridges, harvesting tubers, and so on. There is mixed hand hoe with fork, trident or beak, which makes it an even more versatile tool.
The cultivator is a flat trident of metal tips bent at the end of contact with the soil, perfect for removing and aeration of the soil. Also useful for pulling weeds in narrow or delicate places.
Small rake to move, aerate and level the soil, cover seeds and weed.
The Pointed Planter or Planter Spike is a tool in the form of a long and narrow cone, very simple but practical. It will make sowing easier and help us to correctly calibrate the hole needed for each variety or seed type.
Long Shank Tools
With long-handled tools, a variety of tasks are carried out in the orchard: weeding, moving and collecting dry grass and/or vegetable waste, earthworks, distribution of solid organic fertilizers, stacking and moving compost, planting and transplanting some plants or trees, and so on. Although, in most cases, these long-handled tools have their main function in tillage and soil care tasks.
Fork and two-handle fork
The digging fork is a traditional tillage tool. It is formed by a double fork with four metal points or segments that are fitted to a long handle that is normally made of wood. Very practical for moving and collecting leaves, dry grass or vegetable waste from the orchard. It also plays an important role in tilling, moving and aeration of the soil. In this case, the two-handle fork is particularly suitable, ideal for aeration and mulling the soil.
The shovels are usually of two types: flat-tipped shovel or tip-tipped shovel. Both are used for manual tillage work, although due to their different shape each one has specific uses. The tip shovel is used to move large quantities of soil and solid materials, very practical for digging holes and transplanting large plants. On the other hand, the flat-tipped shovel goes very well for squaring holes and cutting roots when transplanting and planting trees or shrubs, they usually have the narrower blade than the pointed shovel and can be used to aerate the soil.
The hoe is the manual tillage tool par excellence. It consists of a square metal blade, can be oval in the back, with a straight and cutting front, attached to a long wooden handle with which forms a sharp angle. With the hoe we will work, we will harvest, we will give form to irrigations and ridges and we will do its maintenance, we will pull up and we will gather the weeds, etc. Some of them are mixed and can have a beak or a shovel smaller than the front one.
Long handle rake
A long-handled rake is a tool that is fitted with a metal toothed bar at one end. With it, we will pull up and pick up weeds, and we will carry out the important task of levelling the crop plots.
Pruning or cutting tools
Pruning is a common practice in the care and cultivation of plants, this work is traditionally used to revitalize and correct the growth of these plants. It also helps us to get rid of dry branches or diseased shoots, preventing them from spreading to the rest of the plant. The pruning works can also be dedicated to the maintenance of hedges and vines, or to flowers and bonsais for ornamental reasons. Another more delicate cutting task would be the one used to make grafts, fascinating, but it is a very specialized task, reserved for experts.
The pruning and cutting tools so that they work correctly and cut as precisely as possible must always be well adjusted, sharp, and in the case of scissors, also sufficiently greased so that they have a light and precise movement.
We will divide the pruning shears into two types: hand pruning shears and two-hand pruning shears.
There are different models and sizes of hand pruning shears. For horticultural works, with a scissors that adapts well to our hand and that has the blade of sliding cut, it will be enough to cut green wood of small and medium plants or buds and small branches of trees and shrubs, or for the cut in the tails or stems in the collection of fruits, vegetables and harvests vegetables. We will never force the cut, for pruning or more important cuts we will use the scissors of pruning of two hands. For ornamental pruning the scissors are more specific, two types would be: scissors for flowers, with narrow and elongated cutting blades, and scissors for bonsai, with the two wide and shortcutting blades to be able to cut small stems with precision.
Two-hand pruning shears will be used for cutting and pruning medium and large trees and plants, and for trimming and maintenance of shrubs and hedges. For the first function, cutting and pruning, we will use the scissors of two hands of short leaves and sliding cut, it will give us the performance and reliability necessary for this type of work. For maintenance work on bushes, hedges and creepers we will use the pruning shears of two hands with long leaves that, unlike the previous one, have the shortest handles, since it does not need to make as much force, and the straight and long cutting blades, so that its cut covers more at the time of trimming.
Just add to this section the pruning scissors with a pole. Very useful for work at height or difficult to access. These tools avoid the risk of pruning from a ladder, with the ease of movement and safety that gives us work at ground level.
Tools for cutting wood, branches, green or woody plants. Classic tools for manual pruning of all types of shrubs and trees.
The most useful and versatile saw for an orchard is the hacksaw for wood. Light and ready to undertake major work such as pruning large branches and felling trees. Composed of a metal arch that holds and tensions a long, narrow metal blade with a serrated edge.
The pruning saw is designed to be used with a single hand, is formed by a short handle of wood or plastic attached to a curved blade that ends in a point and is toothed. There are saws of different sizes and materials but the most important difference is in the serration. There are several types of teeth but perhaps the most common these days are universal and Japanese teeth. Semi-inclined or universal teeth facilitate sawing in both directions. The Japanese tooth has a double and even triple edge is a tool of a very light and precise cut. The saws, as with pruning shears, can also work with poles for pruning difficult to access, in this case, some saws attach to poles.
Complementary tools and utensils
As complementary tools, we will understand that they are tools or utensils that complete or help to carry out work together with the described tools, or that by themselves carry out a specific function for the zone of culture.
Essential for important earthworks, and very useful for transporting all kinds of elements or materials generated or needed by an orchard.
Vessel with wide and deep handles. The carrycot can be used to mix the substrate, collect soil or vegetable waste, store and transport tools, etc.
Meter or tape measure
It will always be good to have a meter or tape measure, it will be necessary to organize the area of cultivation of a family garden in a plot or garden, or to calculate the space available for the gardeners and flowerpots of an urban garden in a terrace or balcony.
Hammer or mallet
The hammer pot or mallet is a blunt tool. It is used to nail stakes, nails or perform any action that requires hitting something to be nailed or pulled out.
Curved knife for small pruning. Very useful for harvesting vegetables, cleaning branches and reeds for stakes, cutting threads, ropes, etc…
Perfect for writing down all the information about the plant and the cultivation process. There are from small labels to identify the plants in the trays of culture and seedbeds, to others of greater in the form of a necklace that surround or hang of the adult plant. Water and weather resistant.
There are spraying backpacks with volumes of up to 15 litres, but for not very large cultivation spaces with a small domestic spray will suffice. It will help us to supply broths or solutions for nutrition treatments, fungi, or any cure that requires a foliar application. Also very useful for watering seedbeds and refreshing ornamental plants.
No matter how good an automatic irrigation system may be, it is always necessary. Where there is no irrigation, there is always a watering can.
The tutoring helps the plant support the weight of the fruit and saves us space growing the plant vertically. We can use bamboo canes or branches cut and cleaned by ourselves, or choose and buy them from the wide range of tutors on the market. To tie the plant to the tutor can be used raffia or string if it is naturally better, so when you remove them if they fall debris will end up decomposing in the ground.
Gardeners, flowerpots and cultivation tables
Essential containers for any type of cultivation on terraces and balconies. They come in different sizes, shapes, colours and materials. It is always better to opt for resistant but light materials, it is necessary in all the cases that have drainage holes. There are from simple pots for seedbeds to models of gardeners that have built-in greenhouses, water tanks or small irrigation systems. With various accessories such as supports for hanging on balconies or stakes for tomato plants. The original vertical gardeners look great saving and optimizing space, and the comfortable cultivation tables in which you can grow a wide variety of vegetables.
The tools have key importance in the horticulture, the care and observation that we put in its uses will develop our ability with them and with the tasks and care that the plants need. As everything in life, as important is the result of our purposes as the path that goes by until we reach them, for that path in the orchard the tools will be our best companions.