The Garden Tool Used For Centuries With Many Names (Dibble, Dibbler, Dibber)
We’ve all used many different things to make holes in the ground for seeds or bulbs. I know I have. Nothing has been off limits: a stick, screwdriver, dowel, shovel handle, and yes, even a finger. But a dibber, also known as a dibbler or dibble, is a unique garden tool made for this very purpose. Its first recorded use was back in roman times, usually made from old tool handles, and its design has not really changed.
What Should I Look For When Buying A Modern Dibber/Dibbler?
Today, many of the dibbers on the market are made in China and have a metal tip, and are made of low quality wood in the form of a “T”. High quality dibbles have the following features:
- Made of hardwood (maple, mahogany, etc)
- Hand turned, handmade
- Inch marks and quarter inch marks
- Flattened tip for solid seed contact
- Ball or grip handle
- Specifically made for seeds or bulb
- Finished with Linseed Oil to protect
Find a shape and size you like, and add a nice handmade dibble to your garden tool kit.
Are Dibblers Just Used For Seed Planting/Starting?
There are two different types of dibblers, those for planting seeds and those for planting bulbs. Bulb dibbles are typically longer with a fat body and point to create a large hole. They have a flat point to create a firm contact point for the bottom of the bulb, and lines at one inch intervals for reference.
Seed dibbles on the other hand, are typically skinny and pointy, and create a small hole for starting seeds. Quality dibblers will have quarter inch marks, and then inch increments. These dibblers also have a flat tip for solid seed contact in the soil.
How Are Wood Dibbers Made?
All natural wood dibbers are made through the process of wood turning on a lathe. Here is a time-lapse video of a seed bidder being turned in our shop.
What Are Dibbers Made Of?
Dibbers are made of all different types or materials, including wood, metal and plastic. It is all a matter of preference which one you would like in the garden. I use a wood dibber garden tool for my outdoor bulb planting, and a nice small plastic one for inside seed planting. Here are the attributes of a quality dibber in the modern age, and one any gardener would appreciate:
- Dibbers are made of a solid hardwood (maple or mahogany) and weather the elements quite well
- A solid wood dibber handle for leverage in making deep holes or penetrating hard soil.
- A pointed tip to keep going and going
- Turned wood handle for aesthetics
- Thick wood for a solid grip
Are There Different Types of Dibbers?
The Plastic Dibber
What is the purpose of a Dibbers/Dibble?
I know we use ours on the farm constantly (I just used it for planting Ranunculus and Anemone today), and after a 1000 bulbs, i am thankful for this handy tool. Dibbers have a wide variety of uses. Here are all the uses for a dibber:
- To make holes in soil for seed planting
- A hole-maker in soil for bulb planting
- You can break up potted plant roots as you plant them in the garden
- For cleaning dirt from tubers
- For leverage in propagation with large roots.
- To aerate the soil around a plant
- For creating deep water holes for plants in hot climates