Q: My husband is a new vegetable gardener and I want to give him some tools to support his new hobby. What tools would you recommend?

Answer: Gardening is a great hobby with many benefits, including exercise and fresh and nutritious food, and using the proper tool will make gardening much more enjoyable. Buy quality tools and then maintain them properly for years of service.

Here is a list of tools to use for vegetable gardening:

  • Spades for digging, both a round point shovel and a smaller garden spade with a sharp edge
  • Forks for turning and carrying, both a garden fork and a pitch fork
  • Rakes for smoothing and gardening, including a bow rake and a straight rake
  • Hoes for cultivating and weeding, including a common hoe, a pointed hoe or a warren hoe and a scuffle hoe
  • Trowel for transplanting vegetable plants
  • Garden shears for pruning plants and harvesting produce.

Q: Last year I had a ton of apples and this year not nearly as many. Is there something wrong with my tree?

Answer: Many apple trees have a natural biennial cycle of alternate bearing habits. They produce more fruit in one year and less the next. Years with heavy fruit set signal to the tree to have a subsequent year with lighter fruit. This is mitigated by thinning the fruit in years with heavy fruit set three weeks after the fruit has set.

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Mary Jac Brennan is the agent for fruit and vegetable horticulture for small farms and local food for the Forsyth Cooperative Extension. Contact Mary Jac about commercial production, local foods, and sustainable agriculture questions. For information on home and gardening issues, contact the Forsyth Cooperative Extension office at maryjac_brennan@ncsu.edu or call 336-703-2850.

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