A certain amount of maintenance is involved when tending a vegetable garden, and having the right tools is the difference between gardening being a chore and an enjoyable pursuit. It is worth making the investment for good-quality tools that will last more than one harvest. Look for tempered or heat-treated, heavy-gauge stainless steel tools with easy-to-grip handles. Make sure the implement is comfortable and the right size, because hopefully you will be gardening for years to come.
Preparing and Planting
The six must-have tools for preparing and planting are a spade with either a long or short handle; a shovel with either a round or pointed tip; a hoe, which can be either hand-held or have a long handle; a flat-head rake for grading; a leaf rake; and a trowel with a pointed blade for digging holes, according to "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gardening."
There are many ways to water a vegetable garden. The choices include a durable, well-made garden hose in a length that is convenient to avoid having to connect several hoses together; a well-made nozzle to control the spray; plastic or metal watering cans to water a small area; and a soaker hose or sprinkler system (either in-ground or above). For larger gardens, the "Complete Guide to Gardening" from Better Homes and Gardens suggests installing a drip irrigation system to make a small amount of water go a long way. The system delivers small amounts of water under low pressure to the roots of the plants.
Weeding and Pruning
Essential tools for weeding vegetable gardens include a wide-blade or narrow-blade trowel; a manual cultivator, which has metal prongs to loosen weeds; a Cape Cod weeder, which has a narrow, hooked blade for weeding in between bricks or rocks; and pruners, which have a scissorlike action and are available in different styles depending on the thickness of the foliage being cut. The American Horticultural Society's "Encyclopedia of Gardening" also recommends using a garden knife for light pruning tasks and harvesting vegetables.