A friend of mine asked what to get an aspiring veggie gardener for the holidays. Here's my short list...
First you need books for knowledge and inspiration:
Rodale's Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. otherwise known as my bible. Then see if there's any gardening books for where the budding gardener lives--the bay area is blessed with the tome Golden Gate Gardening Both This Organic Life and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle are books that will inspire garden and kitchen adventures. And Edible Estates is good for inspiration on radical garden design.
Then you need compost...
websites and classes are good for learning how to make your own black gold, for the uber technical Rodale's book of composting is ridiculously exhaustive but good.
Then you need good seeds:
Get some good heritage, organic seeds here Seed Savers Exchange -- I got to spend a few days at the Seed Savers Heritage Farm and it is the most magical place! But also look for local, organic seed companies in your region--they'll have the best stuff for your particular climate.
And finally, here's the essential gardening equipment--I'm still pining for Felco pruners with these radical little holsters that become this beautiful worn leather over time...sigh.