Digging, sowing and planting Q and A

As I’ve never grown vegetables before, could you advise me on what garden tools are essential?

Essential tools are a full-sized 4-pronged garden fork, a rake, a hand trowel, a hand fork, a dibber, and a hoe. A small onion hoe is very useful for close weeding among vegetables; otherwise, choose between a Dutch and a draw hoe. Make yourself a garden line with nylon cord attached to stout tent pins. A wheelbarrow and watering can are almost essential. Always buy the best quality tools you can afford, and try them out first to make sure they feel right.

Is it better to dig soils in the spring or the autumn?

It depends on the soil. Heavy soils are best dug over roughly in the autumn, before Christmas if possible; the action of the winter frosts will break down clods. Light soils, whose structure is easily damaged by winter weather, can be manured in winter and dug over in January or February.

How necessary is it to dig deeply, and what is the best way of doing it?

If your vegetable garden soil is heavy, ‘double dig’ about once in three years .