If you’re a gardener or a cook, you most probably love a tool or a gadget. I can spend a long time at a kitchenware store staring at baking gear, or in a garden shop just looking at gardening tools. Many is the time I have convinced myself I must have a certain tool or gadget, only to find it is either useless (hello, fertiliser spreader) or I just don’t get the use out of it I thought I would (hi there, newspaper pot maker). I have learned over time to just cool my jets and consider whether:
- I really need it;
- It will really do what it says it will do on the box (I’m looking at you again, fertiliser spreader);
- It’s worth the cash I am about to part with; and
- I have something else that could do some or most of the job of the coveted new tool. I have to remind myself that buying something is the least sustainable option and does add to future landfill.
Here is a list of truly useless items I have purchased, in no particular order:
- A fertiliser spreader, $14.99. This thing is supposed to make spreading fertiliser like blood and bone easier by evenly distributing the fertiliser via a nifty handle that you turn. I thought that for a person like myself that has bursitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, this would be easier on my hands and wrists. Epic fail, my friends. The handle is stiff and really hard to turn, and the fertiliser gets stuck in the funnel very frequently. It does not ‘spread’ the fertiliser, but rather dumps it in a clump. Frankly, I have the skills to do that myself without paying $14.99 for the privilege. The fertiliser spreader is now a glorified bucket. I fill it with fertiliser and shake it around. I could have bought a bucket for a dollar, or I could use one of the many recycled pots I have in my garden shed, which is what I was doing to spread fertiliser around my garden before I was suckered into this con.
- Seedling pot maker, $34.99. That’s right, gentle readers, I paid $34.99 for a tool that would supposedly save me money on pots. Let me tell you that in my shed currently, I already have about 100 pots that I paid not a single cent for. And yet, for some reason I still thought it was a great idea to pay the equivalent of the hourly rate of a mid-level public servant for a tool that I used about three times. So those little newspaper pots cost me about twelve bucks each. Good deal.
- Jiffy pellets, $5 for 12. Jiffy pellets are tiny compressed pellets of coir, that you soak and then plant a seed in. Each pellet costs 41 cents, depending on when you buy them. A coir brick that reconstitutes to ten times its volume costs about $2. For that you will be able to plant probably fifty times the number of seeds. I spent maybe $20 on jiffy pellets before I learned to do simple arithmetic.
- El cheapo gardening gloves, $2 a pair. El cheapo gardening gloves are the worst. They never fit properly, the water soaks into them, and they fall apart quickly. I have thrown out more pairs of these darn things than I care to count, until I wised up and realised that instead of six pairs of crappy gloves, I could buy one pair of good gloves, and have them last a very long time.
- El cheapo tools, $2-$5. Ditto cheap trowels and cultivators. Cheap trowels inevitably rust, handles break, and the tools lose their edge.
- Underground Worm Farm, $15. I wanted worms for my garden, but I wasn’t sure I could commit to a full worm farm. So I went halfway, partly committed, and ended up in an “it’s complicated” status with the underground worm farm: a plastic structure that you dig into the ground, and dump worms in. This from a woman who spends a great deal of gardening time digging plastic out of her garden. Then you feed the worms and they will supposedly create their lovely castings that you then dig out. Wellllll…..every other critter in the ground decided they liked apartment living with daily breakfast, and moved on in. The worms moved on out, which they could do very easily because the underground worm farm is in the ground, and my worm farm is now home to slugs, slaters, and every other creepy crawly under the earth. Except worms. Happily, I have found many of them living in my compost bin, where they seem very content. The farm-o-slugs remains in the ground, because I really buried that sucker in there.
I am sure there are many other things that I have wasted my cash on over the years, but these are just a few of the items I can recall. Next time I will post a top ten of the most useful, value for money tools that I believe every gardener should keep in their shed.