An equally important gardening hand tool is the humble garden fork, it's individual tines are able to go through the hardest of soil.
It is a most useful tool for loosening, lifting and turning over soil, breaking up clay, sifting stones and for harvesting a range of vegetable crops.
It is employed in a similar way to a garden spade, but in many situations is a lot more suitable, the tines enable the tool to be pushed more easily into the ground than a spade particulary in wet and heavy ground.
Further more they are very effective in aerating the soil, raking out stones and weeds, and in breaking up large clods of earth. The gardening fork is not easily stopped by stones, and doesn't cut through weed roots or damage root crops.
Originally garden forks were made from wood, but today the vast majority are made of stainless steel or carbon steel. There are also smaller variants of forks with much shorter, closer-spaced, thinner tines but still having a full-sized handle.
These are often referred to as a border fork or ladies fork, and are primarily put to use for lighter work such as weeding between other plants.
Then there are forks with broader, flatter tines which are designed for lifting potatoes and various other root crops.
If you happen to live in an area where the soil is particularly heavy, buying anything less than a quality fork will prove to be far more costly in the long run, as they tend to break under the strain of a heavy load. Stainless steel tines and a high quality wooden handle pays dividends and will give many years of prolonged use.
As the majority of gardeners will tell you, working with a robust garden fork will significantly reduce the amount of effort required to work the soil.
You may think that choosing a gardening fork is simple, however you do need to ensure you are picking the correct one for the job at hand.
Shown here is the extremely modern looking Spear and Jackson e-series ergonomically advanced digging fork, which complements their equally modern garden spade.
They are so radically different you really have to see them. They have an heat treated stainless steel head with patented stirrup foot for additional durability and strength, together with a large handle that is ergonomically tilted to provide the best digging angle you can get on a stainless steel shaft.
The central foot tread delivers more digging power and is more stable than a traditional style digging fork, whilst the large soft feel handle has a comfortable 2-handed grip.
This garden fork cuts through troublesome soil just like a hot knife through butter.