Planting Tools and Techniques

February 6, 2009
Ready to Plant!

For a successful planting season, here are some tips on planting tools and proper techniques from The Old Farmer's Almanac.

Must-Have Garden Tools

As you get ready for your planting season, make sure you have these basic garden tools on hand!

  • Garden gloves
  • Spading fork
  • Rake
  • Hoe
  • Hand cultivator or trowel
  • Garden hose
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow or garden cart

Planting Techniques

  • As soon as your soil can be worked, stir it well and let it sit for several days.
  • Then top-dress the soil with a 1-inch-thick layer of compost over the entire garden area.
  • Using a spading fork, loosen the soil in the bed. Mix in compost.
  • Smooth out the soil with a rake, getting rid of stones and debris.
  • A good-size vegetable garden for a beginner is 10x16 feet.
  • Check your seed packets for the best time to plant. Some vegetables are best planted in cool weather, and others in warm weather.
  • Make rows for vegetable seeds with a hoe.
  • Transplant seedlings using a hand cultivator or trowel.

Here's advice on how deep to plant your seeds:

  • The depth of your fingernail on your index finger for lettuce, Spanish onions, and radishes.
  • The depth of your first knuckle for cabbage, carrots, beets, cucumbers, and squash.
  • The depth of your second knuckle for bush or pole beans and corn.
  • For tomatoes, plant deeper, as they root along the stem.

After you sow, lightly press the soil around the seedlings. Water well!

To see how much water your plants really need, check out our “When to Water” guide.

Reader Comments

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is there a particular way my

is there a particular way my rows should be grown? north/south, east/west? or tall plants on one side? short plants on one side? I have a 10x12 garden and growing big boy and cherry tomatoes, cucumber, zuccini, summer squash, green beans, and okra.

Hi, Tracey, Think of the

Hi, Tracey, Think of the Sun's movement: It rises in the east and sets in the west. its strongest rays come from the south; its weakest from the north. So you want to plant in such a way that your garden gets southern exposure. Your tallest plants should be on the north side; if they are on the south side, they will cast shade on the plants behind them. This is also why it is wise to plant in rows that run from east to west: They get southern exposure during the full rise-set cycle of the Sun.
Have a great growing season!

What type of oil should I use

What type of oil should I use on my garden tools? Right now I have only a trowel, but I plan to expand that inventory in March because I've moved into an apartment where I can plant some flowers! :D

Since the oil you use will be

The Editors's picture

Since the oil you use will be in your soil, we'd recommend linseed oil. After you oil your tool, let it dry completely. Happy gardening!