Favorites, Part 1: The awesome hoe thingy
I thought I'd write about a few current favorites around the homestead. (I adjusted the wording in that first sentence a little so you wouldn't start thinking about raindrops on roses...) So I started writing these in a single post, but as I am long-winded and have no editor, I decided it was best to split them up into separate posts.
Up first, a mystery hoe.
I bought a few sturdy-looking garden tools at a yard sale last spring. I was also able to take a some old garden tools from my grandmother's toolshed after she passed away. Unfortunately, last year's garden was a total wash. We had flooding. We had a baby. We bought a dairy cow. I made a valiant attempt to plant some stuff, but if you don't keep up with the weeds, you're not gonna harvest much (...which is why we signed up for a CSA last year too.)
Anyway, so I didn't really get to try out any of the new (old) tools last year.
This year, I'm taking the garden more seriously, and giving it a very high priority. I'm honing my techniques. I'm staying on top of it. So far, at least.
And I've fallen in love with one tool in particular. It probably has an official name, but I don't know what it is. The closest thing I can find is called a ridging hoe, or sometimes a pointed hoe. But I don't know who makes or sells ones like this. If you do, let me know in the comments.
It's like a standard long-handled hoe, but instead of a rectangular head with a flat edge, the head is arrow-shaped:
Why do I like it so much? Well, keep in mind as you read these points that we have some pretty gnarly clay soil. Working clay soil is almost always a workout, so anything that makes a job a tiny bit easier is welcome, and any tool that can deal with it well is a blessing.
If you're going after a big weed with this thing, that pointed tip will penetrate the soil a lot more effectively than a flat edge. When my aim is good, I can even pop a pretty good sized clump of grass out with this. Chop hard right behind it and the head digs in an cuts the roots underneath. Pull on the handle and out pops the unwanted green stuff. When my aim is bad and I miss, the hoe goes to one side or the other, and the edge slices that side of whatever I was aiming for. Not a bad consolation prize.
If you turn the hoe to one side just a bit, the edge can cut through the top layer of dirt like an ordinary hoe (though the angle is better than my other hoes). If your arms get a little tired from repetitive motion, you switch hands, flip the hoe around and use the other edge (which gives you about twice as much sharp edge to a normal hoe). If you need to make a furrow to drop some seeds in, just drag that point through the soil. (In fact, I suspect this was the initial purpose of this design.) If you need to push or pull a little soil to cover a seed or shore up a seedling, that pointed tip gives you a lot of precision in tight places. And so far the tool seems tough as nails.
A good garden tool is a wonderful thing. Thanks Grandma!
[ UPDATE: Apparently it's called a "Warren hoe" (or sometimes a "planting hoe"). Mine appears to be made by Union Tools, but I'm not positive. What remains of the writing on the handle is pretty hard to decipher. ]