My Favorite Tools

If your garden is too small to turn a tractor around in, then it is worth investing in a few important hand tools. Our most indispensable and most often used item is a sturdy digging fork. It is possible to work up a fairly large area in a relatively short amount of time. The basic strategy is to sink the fork in all the way, lift and turn the soil, and then give it a 'WHACK' with the back of the fork to break up the clods.



Now you have a nicely turned garden area and some things are planted, but a million little weeds are coming up in between the rows after a rain or overhead irrigation. The soil is still soft, so you shouldn't have to do too much work - remember, small weeds are so much easier to kill than big ones. This is the perfect moment for a claw type tool which serves the double purpose of breaking a soil crust and knocking down that first wave of weeds. 

There is a single tine version of this tool called a Cobra head which can be great for precision weeding around closely spaced plants like garlic.

The advantages of a digging fork is that it is easier than using a shovel and does not create a hardpan where a shovel would slice the soil profile. It is also easier on your back and aerates the soil while breaking up clumps. If you can not stick the fork all the way in, even by jumping on it with both feet, then the soil may be too dry, or it may not be a good spot for a garden. You can get digging forks at the local hardware store, but for a really nice one, you will probably have to shop online. We get ours from the Peaceful Valley Farm Supply

The stirrup hoe, or hula hoe is just your all-around indispensable weeding tool. We like the 3.5" blade because it is easier to pull through hard soils and also offers more precision with closely spaced plants.

Of course at the end of the day, there is always a little bit of crawling around in the dirt and pulling the weeds by hand or with a short-handled tool, but the more you can do standing up, the better!