Not long ago, I finally decided to part with the ugly plastic box of tools that I'd been carting around since college. I'd keep the tools, but their carrier needed an upgrade. I have a limited budget and I'm partial to anything that shows its age, so when I found a vintage turquoise toolbox I snapped it up. When my dad came to visit a few weeks later, he laughed and told me he had two just like it sitting empty in his workshop. And I could have them.
Photographs by Erin Boyle.
Above: Garden tools needing a home. What do the contents of your toolbox look like? Show us by uploading a photo in the comment section below.
Above: The vintage toolbox I found. After my dad gave me two more, I started using them to store not just tools but all sorts of things, since our tiny apartment has so little cabinet and closet space. I recently gave the boxes a major overhaul, taking everything out and rearranging the contents. By the time I finished, I'd designated one as my gardening toolbox.
Above: I keep it under the couch, in easy reach for whenever I embark on a garden or flower project. Having all my gardening supplies in one place means I spend less time searching for the proper tools.
Above: The newest additions to my collection: a Dewit Garden Hand Shovel (bottom right; $25.90 from Kaufmann Mercantile), a major step up from the soup spoon I'd been using; and Gardener's Goat Skin Work Gloves ($32 from Womanswork). The gloves are soft and supple, and most important, they fit my small hands.
The contents of my tool box are particular to my urban gardening needs. Besides the gloves and the trusty trowel, I packed in a canvas bag for foraging finds, Japanese scissors, pruners, hand drills, and various bits of wire, tape, and twine. My Victorinox SwissTool ($127.50 from Swiss Army) is invaluable in a small apartment—or anywhere, really.
Above: The smaller tools go in the top tray, and each one has a story. I bought the pruning shears at a hardware store in Providence, Rhode Island. The historic building where I did my graduate work has a garden designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and when I got permission to take clippings from its flowering quince, I knew kitchen scissors wouldn't do the trick. One day I might upgrade to one of these beautiful options, but for now, this is my best tool for clipping branches.
Above: I have another box for craft supplies, but I keep some paper scraps and a pen and pencil in the upper tray of this box for making labels or jotting down notes as I work.
Above: Below deck, I keep larger tools like my trowel and scissors for flower arranging. Seed packets and garden gloves also make their home here.
Above: Finally, I tucked the dram vials I use as wall vases safely away in the bottom of the box.
The rest of you urban gardeners out there: What are your must-have tools?
This is an update of a post originally published March 7, 2013.