Tools I use in the vegetable garden

Everybody has a personal preference as to the style of gardening tool they prefer. Because I garden on raised beds with no formal edging I prefer to use the tools shown below. If you were to buy similar tools new the investment would be about $180.

I shall explain each one and why I consider it important for the tasks in the vegetable garden.


The garden fork is the most important tool I have. It is used for loosening soil in the beds when preparing a new bed and for jobs like digging potatoes and removing the roots of brassicas that have been harvested.

Make sure you invest in a high quality tool to guarantee the forging.This means paying a little more for it, but it will repay you in the long term. Cheaper tools invariably bend when pressure is put on them and you will spend alot of time straightening prongs of the fork if you buy a cheap one.

Oil the handles each year if you keep them outside as I do and they will last you a lifetime of gardening. You will notice by the pictures my tools are not new. I have had most of them since the late 1960's when I commenced vegetable gardening.

If you buy quality tools they will serve you well.

Keep them sharp and you will use less energy to perform the tasks yoiu need to do.




I use a long-handled straight spade like this for edging. Once I have forked the soil I am preparaing in a bed, I mark out the edges using the string below and then dig with the edging spade and turn the sods onto the top of the bed. This leaves straight-sided trench defining the edge of the bed. When this is raked off the soil will fall from the edge of the bed into the trench. When this is firmed in with a rake, you will end up with a bed that is raised about 15 cm above the surrounding path. This is excellent for drainage and saves the cost of formal edging. It also allows complete portability as to where you place your beds in the garden space. Because I have native animals such as possums and Pademelons around the garden, I have chosen to surround my vegetable space with corrugated iron. This keeps out most intruders, and with the informal raised beds, I have complete flexibility within the space of 13x 13 metres to change the paths into beds and to rotate shapes and sizes of vegetable beds according to my needs.Occasionally I might use house bricks to formalise an edge, but I have not had a difficulty in maintaining raised beds the way I have described. It is cost free and makes for easy weeding. Occasionally lifting the soil from the edge back onto the top of the bed does not take more than a few minutes.




I call this a nail rake as distinct from the type that are cast in one piece. The tines are heavy duty nails that have beeen welded into the head of the rake. I find the advantage of this is the fine tilth you can achieve with this rake. I use the handle for pressing into the soift soil to mark seed furrows. By pressing down on the newly worked soil this action compresses the soil undermneath and restablishes contact with the capilliary action below. Your seeds will not dry out as quickly and I have found germination is far more consistent and reliable with minimal watering.

When working the newly formed bed, start at the top and pull the main layer of earth straight down the bed. You will find that earth spills from the rake and falls into the trench previously dug. You can shape the bed by the amount of pressure you apply to the rake. I find this a most satisfying task and you end up with a finely worked bed. This establishes a bed into which seedlings or seeds can be sown easily. A covering of 2-3 cm of seived compost can be added to the top of the bed gently. You are then ready to mark out your furrows for seed with the back of the rake, or to measure the distance between rows with the rake. The distance between the edge and the centre of the rake is about right for most seed spacings.




This wire weeder hoe is ancient. I have had it for at least 35 years. It is now worn through sharpening both top and bottom faces to a sharp bevel. This way you can use the hoe to cut weeds out of the bed around plants in either a left- handed or a right-handed manner. You can still buy these hoes, but they are considerably larger when new. I sharpen it regularly with a fine round file to keep the cutting action of the hoe reliable. By drawing the hoe between the plants just under the soil in a shallow fashion you will cut off weeds and stop them robbing the nutrients from your vegetables. I wouldn't be without a tool like this. The tip of the blade can be used to cut off single weeds.

IT MUST BE KEPT SHARP to do its job effectively.

All long handled hoes need to be tailored to the individual user. The ideal length of handle is one that brings the total tool length to between the nose and the mouth with both the tool and the user standing upright. If it's too long don't be afraid to cut off any extra after all it's just extra weight you have to carry around.




This chopping hoe is a great tool in our garden. We use it to shorten the life of thistles, to break up clods, to keep weeds out of my vineyard and to work in fertiliser. It is such a handy tool.








These knives have many uses in my garden. They were made by cutting the rounded spring handles from a pair of crutching blades used for dagging sheep. I inherited these from my father and wouldn' be without them. Every season I grind them sharp on a bench grinder and they are used for cutting vegetables for harvest, trimming all sots of things and for heaping soil back on top of the bed after I have finishied hoeing.





These are brickies wedges for the string line they use on courses of bricks. I find them useful for marking out beds and getting a stright edge. The spade I use can be held against the string and pressed into the soil with your foot. You get a reasonably straight edge using this method. If straight edges are important to you, you will find a string line system very handy.





This maschette was bough many years ago at an army disposal store. I keep the edges sharp by grinding and I find it most useful for chopping up compost I put into the compost pit. It is also great for preparing brasiccas for taking inside.

I'll probably find another few tools to add but apart froma wheel barrow for transporting soil. weeds and compost to and from the beds, I think that is pretty much all you will need.

Happy gardening. Home Page





This page was last updated on 16/01/2018