A dibble, also called a dibber or a dibbler, is a garden tool that makes planting seeds, seedlings and bulbs a joy. It makes holes in the soil to a consistent depth. If you've never used a dibble, or would like to know more about them, click here for a printable PDF file explaining their history and use.
I make these dibbles from any of several hardwoods. The material is always salvaged from items others have thrown away: baseball bats, table legs, tool handles, etc. They may be hickory, ash, teak, oak or maple. I seem to find more oak than anything else (the two dibbles in the picture on the right are oak). Each dibble measures about 1¼" in diameter and 10" long. The spike part is 6" long and is marked every inch so you will know exactly how deep you are planting. The entire length is sanded smooth and finished with mineral oil. Because I make these individually, there may be a very slight difference in shape from one dibble to another.
Planting and transplanting is easy with a dibble. To plant seeds, simply poke it straight down into the soil to the desired depth and drop in your seed. If you're planting a row of seeds, drag the dibble to create a trench. To plant bulbs or seedlings, poke a hole to the right depth and wiggle it back and forth to enlarge the hole. You can backfill the holes with your hand, or you can poke the dibble around the hole so it caves in. If you use the dibble it won't compact the soil around the roots and it'll keep your hands clean(er). Once your plants are established, use your dibble to aerate the soil around them, allowing water to easily reach the roots.
You can use this dibble for hours on end and not have a sore wrist at the end of the day, making it a great gift for any gardener with arthritis, tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. I've sold a lot of these to commercial greenhouses because they know how versatile and practical these dibbles are.
After each use I suggest wiping the dibble clean with a damp cloth. Every so often you might also give it a coat of mineral oil.