Here we’ve listed gardening tools and items that we have found to be invaluable in our fruit and vegetable gardening efforts.
1. Pop up Garden Bag
Pop up Garden bags (or barrels) are excellent for collecting your weeds, or grass clippings in. They are light and easy to move around, and fold down when you’ve finished with them, so they don’t take up much room in the shed. We use ours every time we are working in the garden and it’s still going strong after 7 years of heavy use.
2. Good Gardening Gloves
Buy a comfortable well fitting pair. Don’t get anything too big otherwise you will not be able to feel what you are doing. Even if you like working the soil with your bare hands, there will always be times when you need to wear gloves. This might be pulling up nettles, or handling thorny branches. We’d recommend you get these from a local hardware store or garden centre as it’s definitely best to try them on.
3. Horticultural Fleece or Garden Fleece
Horticultural Fleece is a super thin material that is very useful for fruit and vegetable gardening. You lay the fleece over your seedlings and it creates a micro-climate that warms the soil and air beneath it. This improves germination rates, general plant growth, and protects early plantings from frost and wind. The sun just shines through it and it’s water permeable so the rain just soaks through it. It can also be used to give some frost protection to early blossom, for example on cherry trees. We use it every year to give our vegetable seedlings a boost and also use it to stop the birds from eating our strawberries. If you’ve not used it before, get yourself a roll and give it a go. We think you’ll be pleased you did! In the image, we’re using it to protect and promote our broad bean plants in early spring.
A trug is a small hand held basket-like container that is designed for collecting fruit and vegetables into. They do this job brilliantly. We used to go out with a bowl when harvesting our vegetables until we were bought a trug as a gift and we’ve used it ever since. The best trugs are made out of natural materials using traditional methods. They look and feel fantastic and with care will last a lifetime.
5. Cheap Plant Pots
We use lots and lots of plant pots each year and so over the years have searched for the cheapest plant pots we could find. A few years ago, we discovered that disposable drinking cups work perfectly and are very cheap! A bag of 100 will cost you less than a couple of pounds, and they will easily last 3 or 4 seasons if you are not too rough with them. So, next time you’re doing a supermarket shop, pick a bag of those up!
6. Bamboo Canes and Garden Canes
A vegetable garden just doesn’t seem complete without some structure made out of bamboo canes! They have many uses, from supports and stakes to marking out rows for planting. Both long and short ones are useful, but do remember to cover the ends of short canes with small pots or cane toppers to prevent injury.
7. Good Quality Garden Tools
You will be able to do most soil related tasks with just four tools: a fork, a spade, a trowel and a rake. There are some things it’s worth being frugal with, but with these basic gardening tools, we recommend you buy the best quality you can afford. You will be using them a lot and they should last you a life time. We’ve found stainless steel ones are the best as the soil does not stick to them so easily, which makes digging easier. If you are going to be doing a lot of digging it is worth looking for a spade with foot treads (foot tread – the part of the spade where you put your foot should be flattened so it’s not so sharp on your feet – I’ve had my wellies ruined by overly sharp spades!).
8. Garden String or Twine
You can never have too much garden twine! Buy biodegradable twine if you can as it will invariably fall on the soil and be left there at some point. Use it for tying plants to stakes, making various support systems, and marking out straight rows for planting. Nutscene do a charming tin that you can use to dispense garden twine and they make an ideal gardening gift that is inexpensive.
9. Waterbutts and Watering Can
Collect all the rain water you can by having waterbutts positioned at the ends of sheds or greenhouses, and on downpipes from your house. Rainwater is free (yay!) and has not been chemically treated. All plants and seedlings will grow better with rainwater, and plants such as blueberries actually need the higher acidity levels of rainwater. And of course, you will need a watering can to get the rainwater from your water butt to your plants! Remember that water is heavy, so buy a size that you can manage easily.
And finally . . .
10. A Garden Bench
Don’t forget to sit down and enjoy your garden once in a while! Pour yourself a glass of crisp white wine, a chilled beer or a cup of hot tea (whatever your drink is . . . ), sit in the sun and admire the wonderful garden you’ve created.
Oh, and just outside our Top Ten . . .
11. A Greenhouse
A greenhouse is one of the best investments you can make as a vegetable gardener. The warming effect they have (even cold days with a bit of sun make greenhouses warm) enable you to have a longer growing season and to grow vegetables that would otherwise be a real struggle to grow. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, chillies and aubergines really benefit from the extra warmth a greenhouse can provide. There are lots of different types and sizes of greenhouse with a range of costs to suit most budgets. We love our greenhouse!