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Good to Grow: A fool's tools make for a crowded shed

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Tools that are used less frequently — but are still needed when they’re needed — can go toward the back of the shed or, like these, on the back of the door where they’re handy but out of the way.

The other day as I commenced my weekly lawn mower disentombing from the garden shed, it dawned on me that I may have too many garden and lawn tools.

Personally, I thought one could never have too many tools. However, I find myself quarrying for my favorite garden tools more times than not these days. As I looked around my garden shed, I asked myself, why did I have all this stuff, and what was its original intent?

An idea popped in my head, based on a key question: What tools do I use all the time and which ones do I use every three years or less? I sorted my tools into these two categories and ended up with a third group: the tools and equipment that I have not touched in three years. That made it much easier to rid excess stuff from the pile.

Next, I noticed the pile of tools that I use all the time had duplicates of my most beloved garden hand tools. Do I really need four shovels or twelve handheld garden pruners?

The way to tackle this lessening chore is by feel. We gardeners always use the tools that fit our hands most comfortably. Or we pick the tools that do the best job for whatever gardening need we have.

But here is where I got into my garden tool overindulgence in the first place: buying a certain tool that was marketed as the best for my particular cultivation need at the time.

I admit it, I have fallen for these kinds of fool’s tools for too long now. When I was growing pumpkins commercially, we planted the seed hills by hand. In doing so, I purchased two handheld seed planters to make life easier on the old back. I paid over $250 for the both of them.

When planting day came around, I had more people wanting to help sow seeds than we had hand planters. Knowing this a few days in advance, I made some low-tech planters out of PVC pipe. The PVC worked so much better than the expensive, overrated, commercially purchased planters. By the end of the first day, I was even using the PVC one while the two new planters laid in the truck bed.

One of these handheld planters resides in my current garden shed still today. This is one example of how I have accumulated so much garden shed junk.

In the end, the list of tools I use frequently was not too long. A trowel, a long-handle cultivating fork, seven different handheld garden shears (not 12), a box knife, a garden rake, a regular shovel, a turning fork, a leaf rake, a handheld sprayer and a hoe. That’s under 20 everyday tool items — and, believe me, I have way more tools in the shed.

I’m confident I will have reduced my excess garden tool inventory by a third once I’m done cleaning the shed. As you can see or have experienced yourself, it’s easy to accumulate unwanted items and tools in your garden shed, making your garden less than enjoyable each time you need to retrieve a hand tool.

In this modern day of “let it go” household organization, let’s not forget about our very much used but underappreciated garden sheds, and how a little Marie Kondo shed style can go a long way in your personal garden chi.

Chris Postalwait is the agricultural and environmental research station and greenhouse manager for West Virginia State University Research & Development Corporation. He is also the former owner of Orange Vine LLC., a wholesale commercial pumpkin and vegetable farm in Mason County. Contact Chris at

Funerals for Saturday, August 24, 2019

Barron, Dennis - 11 a.m., Airborne Church, Martinsburg.
Baylor, Elizabeth - 1 p.m., Snodgrass Funeral Home, South Charleston.
Bonds Jr., Patrick - 1 p.m., King of Glory International Ministries, Charleston.
Burgess, Corey - 5 p.m., Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
Burns, Helen - 11 a.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation, Inc., Grantsville.
Caldwell, Gary - 6 p.m., Long & Fisher Funeral Home, Sissonville.
Casto, Carroll - 1 p.m., Raynes Funeral Home, Eleanor.
Casto, Roger - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.
Duty, Fred - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.
Fisher, Bernard - 2 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.
Gwinn, Lloyd - Noon, Church of Christ, Craigsville.  
Habjan, Nathan - 1 p.m., Wilson-Smith Funeral Home, Clay. 
Hall, Daniel - Noon, Witcher Baptist Church.
Hinkle, Ethel - Noon, Church of Christ, Craigsville.  
Hoffman, Bruce - 2 p.m., Foglesong - Casto Funeral Home, Mason.  
Kinder, Siegel - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.
Kyler, Virgil - 11 a.m., Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Reedy.
Palmer, William - 1 p.m., Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, Charleston. 
Raynes Sr., Steven - 1 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Oak Hill.
Truman, James - 2 p.m., Newton Baptist Church, Newton.
Turner, Keith - Noon, Full Gospel Assembly,  Huntington. 
Webb, Antoinette - 11 a.m., SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Oak Hill.
Wilson, Greg - Noon, Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.
Withrow, James - 1 p.m., Cooke Funeral Home Chapel, Cedar Grove.