Farming and gardening have been the most fundamental parts of existing and surviving as a human species. It should come as no surprise, then, that some of our gardening techniques have a rich history and are rooted in the ancient ways of our long gone ancestors. One tool that survived the test of time in the gardening community is known today as a dibber. Still frequently used, we will go over its history and origin, as well as what the tool is primarily used for.
The history of dibbers for gardening
Due to the impact that farming and gardening have on the population throughout the span of history, it’s no surprise to see many historic tools are still with us to this day. Although seemingly primitive, the dibber is still with us for a good reason.
The first use of dibbers go back to Roman times
Historically, the dibber can be traced as far back as the civilizations of ancient Rome. In its most rudimentary form, the dibber was simply a stake-like apparatus made out of wood or bone – whichever was available – and shoved into the ground to make way for seeds. The slow transition of more ornate and modern dibbers began to appear during the Renaissance where it became a mass produced item.
Seed dibbers vs bulb dibbers
As more innovative measures were taken with basic farming and gardening tools, the dibber would soon see a modification to help accommodate the need of those planting bulbs. Since bulbs required significantly more room than the average set of seeds, the dibber became modified to create wider holes so that bulbs could be planted as quickly and efficiently as seeds. While the concept remains the same between both tools, a bulb dibber is simply wider.
We use a different size dibber for plugs (small round), and small saplings (wide and flat).
What are dibbers typically made out of?
While relatively simplistic in nature, the small improvements in the tool can be seen in the materials used throughout the years. Below we’ve listed the three most common materials your store bought dibber may be made of.
Some simple garden dibbers can be made from plastic. These tools are effective, but not as strong as the other materials frequently offered. Plastic dibbers are great for occasional home gardening over long term professional use.
Steel-tipped dibber (our dibber of choice)
The most modern iteration of the dibber is the steel-tipped dibber. While the total length of this dibber may be around the same, if not longer, than the other dibbers listed, the metal tip adds a few notable benefits. In the event that the soil being penetrated is hard, or if the hands of the planter are small, the metal tip provides a little extra help to the planting process.
Wood turned dibber
More than just a “stick tool”, the wooden dibber is a tool that has passed the test of time. These reliable tools cut through soft soil with no issue and even last for years and years to come.
How to use a dibber effectively in your garden
Like most of the traditional gardening tools you may come across, the dibber is simple and easy to use. While straight forward, we’ve created a list of things to keep in mind to make your dibber gardening experience as simple and effective as possible.
Plan how far apart you’ll be planting your seeds or bulbs
Keeping in mind the width of your dibber, as well as the needs of the crop you’re planting, map out where you want to place each seed. Pre-planning will make the process simple and ensure that your new gardening adventure has what it needs to succeed.
Use a dibber to create a hole of desired depth in the ground for your seedlings
When it comes time to plant seeds, use your dibber to push into the ground and achieve your desired depth. How far you push your dibber in will determine where your seeds will rest. Many dibbers have marks denoting depth as you work the soil.
Other potential uses for your dibber
In addition to creating a space to plant your seeds and bulbs effectively, there are a few other uses in which your dibber can come in handy. If you’re trying to uproot a pre-existing plant, a dibber can be placed in the soil next to the plant and be used as leverage to uproot. Additionally, irrigation holes to allow for proper watering and drainage can be created using a dibber.
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