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Garden Tips and Tools

The Martha Stewart Show, September 2009

Having the proper equipment is essential for gardening. Martha's head gardener, Shaun Kass, considers these five tools indispensable.

Top Gardening Tools
Silky Gomtaro hand saws
Shaun uses two hand saws for pruning in Martha's Bedford garden: one with a coarse blade for rough cuts, and one with a fine blade for more delicate work. These Silky Gomtaro saws are produced in Japan with incredibly effective teeth that never need sharpening, as they are made with a very high-quality steel that is cut at special angles. Buy Online

Okatsune hedge shears
These Japanese shears -- an invaluable tool for hand shearing -- are the sharpest Shaun has ever used. Made with the highest-quality steel in the world, they will maintain a razor-sharp edge with minimal sharpening. To prevent tools such as these hedge shears from rusting, Shaun keeps them covered in a thin layer of oil. If they do rust, he uses steel wool to clean them, and then applies a thin layer of oil to protect them for the future. Buy Online

Okatsune hand pruners

Shaun uses these hand pruners to prune trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, and tropicals. The pruner has a locking clasp at the bottom that keeps it securely closed and a beautifully designed spring that makes it easy to squeeze and retract. Buy Online

Lesche soil knife
This versatile knife will cut, dig, and slice almost anything in the garden. Shaun uses it mainly for weeding, as its long blade can get deep into the soil to find the end of the longest weed roots. Buy Online

Pot scrubber
Shaun uses pot scrubbers whenever a clay pot needs to be cleaned after a plant has been repotted. Because pots can harbor disease left behind from the insects or organisms in soil, it is important to scrub the inside of pots with an organic detergent. (Shaun never scrubs the outside of pots, as he does not want to remove the patina.)

To clean the inside of pots, begin by removing any remaining soil from the pot and placing the pot in the sink. Use an organic detergent and water to wet down the inside of the pot. Then, use a pot scrubber, going in one direction and starting at the bottom, in a circular motion to remove the dirt.

Sharpening Garden Tools
Shaun recommends that the average gardener sharpen their tools once every 2 weeks. To sharpen your tools, begin by scrubbing them with steel wool as you would a pot. Using a sharpener, sharpen blade using 2 to 4 strokes. Finish by putting oil on the blades and rubbing it in with a gloved hand.

Repotting a Plant
If you have to constantly water a plant and its leaves are wilting, then it's time for repotting.

To repot a plant, begin by using a soil knife to loosen the roots and break them apart (this will allow the roots to branch out). Place terracotta shards on the bottom of your pot for drainage (this will keep the soil and water from running out of the pot). Place your plant in the new pot, and adjust the soil level. With your fingers, tap down the soil to keep the plant straight and eliminate air pockets. 

Soak the plant with water until it runs out the bottom -- it is important when repotting to make sure that the roots are wet so that the plant doesn't go into a transplant shock situation. After the water has drained completely, which can take about an hour, water it again.

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