I’m still plowing through the pages of The Flower Garden: A Manual for the Amateur Gardener by Ida D. Bennett (1910) and like a gardener who has stumbled across something while hoeing and stops to see what it is, I have paused to take a closer look at chapter 23, “A Chapter of Odds and Ends”.
(Excellent use of plowing and hoeing in that sentence, don’t you think?)
In this chapter, Ms. Bennett provides a little bit of advice on gardening tools.
“There is always the tendency among beginners to overload with the paraphernalia of their calling, whatever it may be.”
I feel the need to point out to those who have just now recalled that I have a hoe collection, that I acquired the hoe collection over many years, even decades, and did not buy all those hoes as a beginning gardener. Ms. Bennett was surely not referring to a hoe collection when she wrote that!
“When the first enthusiasm passes, and one becomes a careful and successful worker, all that is superfluous is gradually dropped, and one realizes that it is brains and not tools that make the successful gardener.”
In other words, just putting a hoe in someone’s hands and sending them out to a plot of ground doesn’t mean they’ll become a successful gardener. We all would agree that it does take a bit more than tools to become a gardener.
Now, for the list of tools she recommends…
“A hotbed, a cold-frame or two, a work-table in some convenient place, a trowel, wheel-barrow, spade, pitchfork, rake, hoe, a few yards of stout cord, a hatchet to sharpen stakes, a watering pot, rubber sprinkler, rubber gloves, a good supply of pots and wire-netting, and a couple of good mole-traps cover the real necessities.”
Times have changed. I’m not sure many of us would now include a hatchet, or mole-traps, or wire-netting on a list of necessities for the gardener. Plus, I know that many gardeners do not own a hoe. Others don’t have a pitchfork. Who has hotbeds and cold-frames these days, or even knows what they are?
“Incidentals, such as wire-sieves, lath-screens, trellises, and the like, may be made as they are required.”
I’ve never made my own lath-screens or trellises, but I did once make my own compost sieve which fits quite neatly over my wheelbarrow, making it easy to screen the compost into the wheelbarrow.
In the book, there is a picture of a woman showing someone how to sift loam through a sieve (see above). It is is one of several from the book that all feature the same woman, with a long skirt, protectors on her sleeves and a man’s tie.
Is that our Ida D. Bennett?