This post defines 12 must have garden tools and the best shopping guide for the kitchen gardener. I’ll also offer my best Amazon picks as a useful shopping guide for presents, gifts and building your own toolshed. Use this post to select December gifts, birthday presents, and housewarming presents.
12 Must Have Garden Tools | Best Shopping Guide
Whether you are new to gardening, or an old hand at growing food and flowers in a kitchen garden, this tried and tested list of 12 must-have garden tools will help you build the perfect tools shed. It will also help you buy the perfect gift for the kitchen gardener in your life!
I’ll describe each tool and its purpose, then I’ll offer my Amazon suggestions for your shopping ease and pleasure. These are affiliate links and I receive a small portion of the sale at no additional cost to you. When you make a purchase with these links, you help preserve a little piece of heaven in West Virginia! Thanks.
1. The number one garden tool for every kitchen gardener is a sturdy and reliable hand trowel.
Whether you are growing herbs in containers at your urban condo or building a quarter acre herb garden at your rural homestead, the hand trowel will most likely be the first garden tool you reach for. This essential kitchen garden tool does all the work! Moving potting soil, digging up weeds, and planting fall bulbs all require a reliable hand trowel. When shopping for one, be sure it is sturdy, has a colorful handle (so you don’t lose it in grass or garden bed), and has measurements engraved in the bowl.
Here are four to choose from with varying price points, sizes, and other features.
2. When using that trowel, you’ll want a reliable pair of garden gloves.
I’ve been through a few pairs of garden gloves in my time. Trying yucky ones that made my hands sweat, and flimsy ones that let thorns through, I now know the best buys. I’ve tried men’s work gloves and those dainty girly garden gloves. Now, when shopping for garden gloves, I look for protection, breathability, and durability. I do like the feel of cowhide work gloves but have come to prefer waterproof gloves with a reinforced area for the palm and fingers. My husband, Bob works through the thumb and forefinger of his work gloves at a rate of a pair a month, so we are always looking for strong reinforcement in this are for his work gloves. Here are my recommendations:
3. Pruning shears are a must-have kitchen garden tool for every task from pruning fruit trees to cutting away tomato blight.
A sharp and clean pair of pruning shears can cut your garden work time and effort in half. Get a poor pair of shears that are dull and dirty and you might as well be working with a pair of children’s safety scissors. I have a pair of 30-year-old Felco pruners that are in serious need of repair. I think I’ll tend to that after writing this post! Since they broken, the tension spring unwound while I was pruning fruit trees last year, I’ve used cheap, get-me-by types of pruners. This makes miserable work of things. I’ll be shopping from this list as well this year unless you know me and are looking for a holiday gift (wink-wink!).
4. Garden hoes of various sizes will save you time and keep away a backache.
I use a 2” and a 4” stirrup hoe, sometimes called a loop hoe, in my raised garden beds. I clean and sharpen them every winter. The shape of the hoe allows me to dig under the roots of emerging weeds without disturbing my crop. While I’m using my Amazon affiliate links here to help you shop, I purchased my hoes from Johnny’s Select Seed. Do not skimp on this tool. Invest in a hoe or two for your garden that can provide years of work.
5. A hand weeder and cultivator is a kitchen garden must-have tool.
When I ran our farm share program, we had a lot of help in the market garden. I was often touched by how attached my workers and volunteers were to their cultivators. Almost to a person, these helpers would use the farm tools except when it came to the grueling work of digging up tenacious weeds around fragile crops. Then, they would reach into their garden bags and pull out their cultivators with a care and reverence usually reserved for one’s most prized possessions, which I suppose these were. For years, I used a hand-forged Japanese cultivator. It had a wooden handle and I never thought to spray paint it orange or red (something I do to all my tools now) and it is forever lost somewhere on the property, blending in perfectly with the land around it.
6. Garden spades will help you craft the garden spaces you imagine.
A garden spade is a short-handled, square and flat shaped garden tool that resembles a shovel. These tools can cut sod and help shape a garden bed. They can move small amounts of soil and are excellent when mixing ingredients in handcrafted potting soil. Spades are the best tool to use when digging up, separating, and replanting perennials. It is an essential multipurpose tool for the kitchen garden. My spades belonged to my father, and are my favorite family heirlooms.
7. A spading fork looks like a pitchfork but with straight tines. It is a must-have garden tool that has many uses.
A spading fork is another short-handled garden tool that has many essential functions in the kitchen garden. Its straight tines can aerate the soil in your garden beds, mix compost, and move mulch. Next to my pruners, this is probably the most used tool in my kitchen garden.
8. An appropriately sized wheelbarrow is an essential kitchen garden must have. It can be used to move heavy items, mix potting soil, and many other garden tasks.
Wheelbarrows come in numerous sizes and shapes. Finding the right one for your body type and strength can turn garden tasks to pleasurable moments. Picking the wrong wheelbarrow, however, can turn the easiest tasks into pure drudgery. Too big, and the weight of your burden too heavy. Too small and you are forever running back and forth from supply pile to garden bed. These days, I absolutely love my wagon-style barrow for most of my garden chores. Here are my recommendations for you to consider when choosing the right wheelbarrow for your garden.
9. Long-handled shovels. No garden is complete without them.
You can’t have a garden without a long-handled shovel. Whether moving large amounts of mulch and compost or creating a double-dug garden bed, this is the workhorse tool of the kitchen garden. Like my garden spades, my long-handled shovels belonged to my father. Invest in good tools now and they’ll be with you for a lifetime or even longer.
10. A sturdy and reliable irrigation system is good for the kitchen garden and good for the environment.
Stop damaging your plants by top watering with a hose. It can burn the plants, invite insects and mold, and waste a lot of water. Install irrigation systems in your garden beds to give your gardens the water they need without doing harm. Of the varieties below, I prefer the flat cloth-like soaker hoses. They are easy to install and last for years. Some like the kits because they are customizable, perfectly fitting each garden bed’s shape and size.
11. Agribon floating row cover and frost protection is essential for the organic vegetable gardener.
Agribon is an affordable and long-lasting spun fabric that offers protection from garden pests in the warm months and frost protection in early spring and late fall. I double layer my winter beds with agribon to have fresh greens throughout the winter. I could not grow brassicas without agribon because of our troubles with flea beetles and cabbage moths. Choose the quantity and dimensions that best serve your garden needs.
12. Every garden needs a fire pit!
After all the hard work of building and maintaining your gardens, you must make time to enjoy the space, especially with friends. I’ve had a firepit in every garden space I’ve created for the past 30 years. More memories, romances, and friendships have been created an enjoyed around them than any other personal space I inhabit. This year, we are thinking about adding a gas powered fire pit to the back deck. I can’t recommend them enough!
There’s your list of 12 must-have garden tools. Time to get shopping!
Use this list to help you build the perfect garden tool shed over time. Whether making a purchase for yourself or a loved one, be sure to invest in quality and buy according to your body type and strength. Keep your tools clean, all wood should be oiled once a year, and paint those handles some bright color. These are the things you can do to turn these one-time purchases into family heirlooms. My dad has been gone for 25 years, and his tools are some of my most cherished possessions. I wish the same for your family!
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