Pasadena Learning Gardens

Resourcing communities to create a healthier more sustainable future


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Required: A Shovel for digging, a pointed blade and a long handle.  A Spade for everything else, a flat ended blade to cut, shape, scrap, dig etc.  I like a d-handle just like my garden fork

Garden and Compost fork – This it the tool that needs to be top quality – they take a beating and can be used extensively.  The garden fork is the key tool to open up the soil without disturbing it too much and the compost fork is ideal for moving much and compost and I use it everywhere once I’ve loosened the soil.  I like Jackson Forks, they’re more expensive than most, but I’ve seen so many forks fail, even after only a day.  I also like their wheelbarrows and all their tools.   Being very cost conscious – schools are often the third world in our culture – I look for forged blades, nice handles, and well assembledtools and then get the best price (our local OSH often puts their line of garden tools (rakes, shovels and often spades) on sale for 1/2 price and you want to pick the best on the rack.

Bow rake

Digging hoe

Pruners: everyone loves Felco – the Cadillac of pruners.  I use a clone from Harbor Freight Tools which is $13  as opposed to the $40+ you pay for Felco.  It seems to me that maintenance is the key.  Felco maintenance page.  So, I had a pair of Pruners disappear –  almost 9 months later we were sifting the bottom of a large compost bin and there they were.


First, look at the Felco maintenance page, then disassemble. There are three screw / nuts, I use wrenches since it isn't Felco steel, and you need 7, 8, and 12 mm.


Then I sprayed everything with a biodegradable cleaner / degreaser, scrubed it and let it soak. Then I scrubed it a little more and wiped the pieces down with an oiled rag.

Cleaned, oiled, reassembled and adjusted…

So now I’ve learned my lessons; care for your pruners – Have a small oil can with car oil

Transplant trowel



Sharpening system


Author: Mark Rice

I’m a UC Master Gardener with a huge interest in growing my own food, beekeeping, medicinal herbs and living sustainably. I also have a passion to share these journeys with like minded souls. I work with many off site communities and manage an educational organization and two outdoor learning facilities.

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