Ready-to-Garden Tool Guide
What You Need
Shovel – Light shovels are used for most digging tasks. Occasionally, you’ll need different kinds of shovels. For removing sod, it’s common to use a heavier steel shovel. Narrower trenching shovels are used for digging trenches for irrigation lines. A heavy-duty shovel that is good for general use is Fiskars Long Handle digging shovel.
Trowel – These come in handy when planting smaller plants (1 gallon pot size or less). I prefer the Wilcox brand, which has indestructible stainless steel trowels. I often use these for weeding, too.
Hand pruners – Great for trimming and harvesting. I like the brand ARS.
Hand saw – Great for pruning thinner limbs of fruit trees or trees creating too much shade on the garden. Recommended brand is Silky.
Hoe – Eye hoes are a heavy-duty hoe that can be used for a wide variety of tasks, including weeding, digging small holes, light tilling and leveling soil. Good brands include Truper, Seymour Midwest and Rogue. Stirrup hoes are more lightweight and great for scraping weeds from open areas. Colinnear hoes are used for careful weeding in between densely spaced plants in row crop gardens.
Rake – Hard rakes are great for mixing in fertilizer and leveling planting beds. I like the Razorback brand that Home Depot carries.
Digging fork – A tool used to easily aerate a garden bed. Recommended brand is Spear and Jackson sold by Johnny’s Seeds.
Pick axe – Useful for breaking up rocky and compacted soil when creating beds or digging holes for fruit trees and other larger plants. They can also be helpful for cutting and removing roots.
Harvest buckets – These are great for a variety of tasks including harvesting, weeding, and transporting soil amendments. Recommended brand is Tubtrug.
Digging bar – Can be very helpful for digging holes for fruit trees in extra rocky soil.
Machete – Great for thinning and pruning banana plants.
Wheelbarrow – I use heavy-duty wheelbarrows for large quantities of soil and heavy objects. Two-wheeled wheelbarrows are more stable but less maneuverable. Recommended brand: Cariola. Lighter one-wheel wheelbarrows are good for most jobs. I like the True Temper model with the flat-free tire sold at Home Depot.
Hat – Wide-brimmed straw hats are essential in the middle of a hot sunny day. These can be found in many hardware stores and often in gas stations.
Gloves – I like the rubber-dipped ones that Atlas makes. I particularly like using gloves when carrying splintery wood and weeding around pineapple plants.
Rain boots – With all the watering gardeners can do, rain boots can come in handy even on non-rainy days. Wearing wet shoes and socks for hours on end can become uncomfortable and is not hygienic. Rain boots can help. Recommended brands are Bogs, Tretorn and Muckboots.
Rain coat/pants – Carhartt has great heavy-duty rain gear, including overalls. For lighter rain gear I like Northface, Patagonia and Columbia.
Sprayer – Used to apply water-soluble organic pesticides.
Watering can – Helpful for quick watering of small areas and for applying water soluble organic fertilizers.
What You Don't Need
Enclosed greenhouse – For most gardeners in South Florida, a greenhouse is a good way to magnify the heat of our already hot weather and burn seedlings. These are very useful in climates that have freezing winters, but here they should be replaced with areas that are protected from hard rain with ample ventilation, and perhaps some extra shade.
Small tomato cages – Many of the best types of tomatoes grow as vigorous vines and require a much larger trellis. These can be made from bamboo, metal pipe or using an existing fence. Small tomato cages only really work for determinant bush tomato varieties.
Thick gloves – These impede dexterity and make it difficult to do many tasks well.
Cell phone – Get in the garden zone. Phone time can usually wait till later and checking the phone too much can be a distraction that limits productivity in the garden.