Wooden chopstick as dibblet

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A dibblet is a small dibber used mostly for the separation, the so-called pricking out, of seedlings sown and grown in so-called flats (or in large pots). While it is possible to buy a dibblet I find that most of them are far too thick to allow for safe and proper pricking out of seedlings. Something thinner is actually required.

chopstick-dibblet1_webNow the something thinner is easily available in the form of those wooden chopstick from sushi, and other such items of Asian cuisine, that all too often are thrown away after use, and, as is my experience, left behind after picnics in parks.

Pricking out – for those who do not know the term or action – is the separation of tiny seedlings grown in flats or large pots into their own individual pots. In order to do this the soil and the root mess, so to speak, needs to be gently loosened up in order to gently extract each individual seedling from its nursery bed.

Sure, you can use simply tweezers to pull out seedlings to thin out the flat (or the pot) in which you have them growing, and discarding those you have pulled out. But why would you want to do that. Instead rather gently prick them out and plant them in their own pots. And for this you need a dibblet, but a very thin one, ideally. And it is here where those discarded wooden chopsticks come in, or at least one of them.

In lieu of such a slightly converted chopstick, for you want to thin the end down a little and “sharpen” it, you can also make use of those wooden shish kebab skewers.

Pricking out seedlingsSome gardeners use an old Biro pen or similar or a pencil. And, in fact, using an old Biro kind of ballpoint pen – that is empty – is also a great reuse for this. If it is one like the one in the photo and has a clip then you can even stick it into the apron pocket or whatever. In my experience it is still a little on the big side, at the business end, and a chopstick still works a great deal better.

With the latter ones, the wooden skewers, you don't actually have to do much in the way of sharpening the tip and they are even thinner than the chopsticks. Personally I do prefer using a chopstick though simply because they are often longer and thus are better to hold and also because of their shape which makes holding it easier.

There is no need to buy a tool, such as the so-called dibblets or pricking out tools which, as said, often – more often than not – are actually too thick to do the job effectively and efficiently. And reuse and repurposing is always good.

This small article is part of the series “Reuse in the Garden” that was started with an article by the same name.

© 2017