Garden Word of the Day
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A dibble is a gardening tool.
Back in Roman times, farmers needed a tool that would help them poke holes in the ground so that they could plant seeds, seedlings, and bulbs. These gardeners came up with an ingenious tool that has remained relatively unchanged and is still just as useful as it was 2,000 years ago.
The dibble, also known as a dibber, or a dibbler, was first carved from wood. The first dibble was probably nothing more than a pointed stick. To make it easier to use, the digging end was made pointier, and the handle end was rounded.
During the Renaissance, dibbles were made from iron. Today, they are made from lightweight metals and plastics. I’m not a fan of plastics, but some of the hand-carved wooden dibbles are nothing less than works of art. You can also find high end stainless steel dibblers, if you like to spend your money that way. Many dibbles feature depth markings, to make it easier to plant seeds and bulbs at the proper depth.
Types of dibbles
Dibbles come in several different varieties: straight, T-handled, L-shaped, and trowel:
Dibbles can also be transformed into a board that creates the perfect spacing for seeds. These are easy to make from scrap wood and a dowel. Simply take a flat board, or a piece of plywood, and drill several, evenly-spaced holes in the wood. These holes should be just shy of the dowel’s diameter. Then, cut the dowel into pegs. These pegs will be the width of the board plus whatever planting depth you prefer, usually 1 inch. The pegs are tapped into the holes. You can glue them in place, or leave them somewhat moveable, to adjust the depth. If you're feeling crafty, you can add points to the digging end of end peg, but it isn't necessary
When starting seeds, simply press the dibble board against the soil for perfectly spaced seedlings. This reduces the amount of thinning you need to do later on. If you need to space plants out more, simply skip holes.
The down-side to using dibblers, especially in heavy clay soil, is that the surrounding soil is somewhat compressed by the pressure applied to make the hole. If the soil lacks organic material, this can make it difficult for young roots to take hold. As long as you aren’t pressing really hard, and your soil is relatively loose to begin with, this shouldn’t cause any problems. Dibblers are best used in planting trays filled with potting soil.
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