Tools For The Cottage Garden

English Garden

My neighbors know my favorite garden tools are old silverware and my fingers. I’m Old School.

But there are 10 traditional cottage garden tools that make life in the garden easier. This season I’m breaking down and purchasing them.

1.  A Spade and Fork – Essential for digging and lifting the soil. I’ve been making do with a child-sized shovel from Home Depot. It’s time to get serious. I’m moving up to a child-sized spade and fork from Clarington Forge.  These tools are made in England and have heads made from a single piece of steel. The heads are securely riveted to an ash shaft. They are exceptionally strong and are backed by a lifetime guarantee. Much better than my old spoon.

Spade and Fork

Spade and Fork

2. Hoes – I’m going with a flat bottomed Dutch hoe that’s good for digging and weeding. In the early days of cottage gardening, hoes were the main tools used, although in much heavier versions. You may recall seeing them depicted in older English paintings.

Hoes

Hoes

3.  A Hand Trowel and Hand Fork –  If you can only afford one set of the finest garden tools, buy these. They may be the only tools you really need!

Clarington Gift Set

Clarington Gift Set

4.  A Rake – A rake is another tool that performs a multitude of garden tasks.

Rake

Rake

5.  Pruning Shears – I have about 5 pairs of pruning shears, from a big lopper to a tiny pruner. I’ll probably buy another one this year! All of mine are bypass secateurs which have two blades, like scissors.  I use them on all my plants as they are gentle and do not damage the fragile stems.

Bypass Pruners

Bypass Pruners

6.  Gloves – A good pair of gardening gloves is essential when pruning roses or anything with thorns. Also crucial if you want to avoid poison ivy.

Gloves

Gloves

7.  A Wheelbarrow – I couldn’t live without a wheelbarrow. Mine is a large plastic number, not vintage or beautiful but essential for composting the beds.

wheelbarrow

8.  A Watering Can – I collect rainwater for my container plants. And it looks good in a cottage garden!

watering can

9.  A Planting Dibber – This tool is useful for anyone looking to plant a large amount of seeds or small transplants.

Planting Dibber

Planting Dibber

10. A Trug – Okay, maybe not a necessity, but it sure is gorgeous!

A Cottage Garden Trug

A Cottage Garden Trug

Exploring the Mysteries of the Langstroth Hive, Part IV. The Final Chapter!

Langstroth Hive

We are now at the Hive Body aka Brood Chamber.

Bee boxes come in six basic sizes:

Large aka “deeps” or “brood boxes” – comes in 2 widths – 10 frame and 8 frame.

Medium aka “Illinois” or “western” – comes in 2 widths – 10 frame and 8 frame.

Small aka “honey super” or “shallow” – comes in 2 widths – 10 frame and 8 frame.

Of course there are other sizes and varieties of boxes, e.g. “super shallows” and “section supers” like the one pictured in the diagram. But I’m sticking to the basics here.

Old School beekeepers use the Large 10 frame box as their Hive Body/Brood Chamber.  They usually stack another Large box on top of the first one as their colony grows in size.

There’s only one problem.  When a Large 10 frame box is full of brood and honey, it is HEAAAVVYY!!  I’m talking 90 pounds of heavy!

My first hive is totally Old School.  Two large boxes on the bottom, with two medium boxes on top of those used as honey supers.

Can I lift those bottom boxes? Sure, when I’m powered by adrenaline because I’m terrified all my bees are going to die if I don’t get the hive back together! Like those stories of people lifting cars…

I learned my lesson the hard way. My second hive is going to be made up entirely of Medium 8 frame boxes. I’ve heard them called “lady boxes.”  Sounds good to me!!

Next we arrive at the Queen Excluder, possibly the most controversial piece of equipment on the hive.  The point of an excluder is to keep the Queen from laying eggs in the honey supers, thus keeping baby bees out of the honey you harvest.  Most beekeepers I know regard them with disdain, including Bee Guru Michael Bush. I tried an excluder once, but never again. My worker bees hated it.  My advice? Toss it.

Next we come to the Inner Cover.  I understand that this is an essential part of the hive, but I forgot to put mine on last year and my bees are fine.  I recommend using one, however.

FINALLY, we arrive at the Outer or Telescoping Cover. A very essential part of the hive.  And now it comes in an attractive English Garden Style!

English Garden Hive Cover

I hope this series has unraveled some of the Mysteries of the Langstroth Hive.  Now on to some gardening topics!!

Some Creative Langstroth Hives!