Essential garden tool: the planting stick.

As an eager gardener who’s always learning what works and what doesn’t, I’m excited when I discover what works. And this works: a planting stick.

Of all the tools in my garden bench and in the garage, a few are must-haves: a square spade, a trowel, a four-tined cultivator. These are tools that are simple, and they work. I can accomplish many a task with just these three tools.

To the list of essential garden tools, I’ll add this: a planting stick.

Rob made this for me several years ago, based on instructions from Martha Stewart Living that I can no longer find. But making this practical garden tool is as simple as using it.

Start with a piece of 1-by-4 lumber and cut it to 48 inches (4 feet) long. Measure and mark 6-inch increments along one edge. Every 12 inches, make two 45-degree cuts to 2 inches deep (to form a V). At 6-inch increments between those cuts, make two 45-degree cuts to 1 inch deep. Along the measuring stick, the deeper V cuts measure 12 inches apart, and all the notches are 6 inches apart.

This tool is perfect for measuring distances between rows, for spacing plants at proper intervals, and for marking a straight line to ensure neat rows. For example, I stand the planting stick on its long end in the dirt, and slide back and forth carefully to create a shallow furrow that’s well-suited for planting lettuce seed.

Gardeners, fall is the perfect time to make one of these terrific garden tools for yourself!

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