20 June 2009

Old Hoe & Pendulum Hoe.

I don't have much time to spend on here today as its my birthday and we're going back home for the weekend when Vicki gets finished work. However I will just finish off the series on my hoes ready to start on something different for next week. I'm not going to rate these hoes and only show them out of interest. The first one is the very first hoe I bought back in 1971 and as you can probably tell it hasn't had a great deal of use mainly because its what I call a negative hoe in that it keeps skipping out of the ground due to the angle of the blade pointing sky wards. For this hoe to work for me I would need to be about seven and a half foot tall. I guess if I shortened the shaft a lot it might work for me but when I already have the perfect hoe there is not much incentive to try and make this one work.

The second hoe I can't rate yet simply because its new to me this year so need to test it more to see how it last. It seems to work well enough. The bold claim for this hoe is that it deters slugs and snails because of the copped blade. This type of hoe is called a Pendulum Hoe due to the fact that the head pivots back and forth as you use it so no matter whether you're pushing or pulling it's always positive and bites in to the ground. It has a sharp blade and is good for working between rows and around plants.

19 June 2009

Flat Hoe.

Could this possibly be the best hoe in the world? Well, probably not but to me it’s without a doubt my favourite hoe. I know this kind of hoe as a ‘flat hoe’ and the only bad thing about this hoe as far as you guys are concerned is that Wolf Garten Tools don’t seem to make it anymore – go figure that one out if you can. For that reason I only show you this because no doubt someone else makes one and it’s the actual design rather than the brand that makes this hoe my favourite. For me this particular hoe has a neutral feel in that it neither tries to leave the soil nor digs to deep, this makes it very controllable. It will deal equally well with both small weeds and big tall over grown stuff. With it just having the single leg joining the blade there is a minimum of dirt pick up and if you turn it over you can use it this way to work over the soil like a mini spade. I also use it a lot this way to work the soil back away from the grass edging. You can of course do the same with the Dutch hoe that I showed you last night but for some reason the flat hoe does it better. This is actually the second of these hoes I’ve bought. After using the first one for a while and liked it so much I bought this one and then set about halving the blade on the original hoe so making an half size version. I’ve had this hoe for the best part of 20 years now so durability is not an issue and this applies to all Wolf tools. The only thing that has ever broken are a couple of wooden shafts and this was probably due more to misuse than bad quality. So for this type of hoe I will give 10 out of 10, for usability of this particular hoe I will give 9 out of 10, it isn’t quite perfect in that I would like the union with the blade to be more streamlined. As far as I’m concerned the only other way to improve on this design would to make it out of copper.

There is some dirt pick up with this hoe due in part to the bulky union with the blade.

This hoe was the same but has had one side of the blade removed to make a smaller version.

Here you can see the hoe flipped over to tidy along the edge of the border - now you know how Bob gets those neat edges!

18 June 2009

Dutch Hoe.

The hoe that I’m going to show you tonight is called a Dutch Hoe, again the one I have is made by Wolf Garten Tools but most garden centres will stock variations of this hoe as it’s a common design. I can only speak for the one I have in this post, and I have to say that this is a good hoe, the one I have bites in to the soil well so is good even in compact soil. This only works as a push hoe but that’s no great hardship. The blade is quite thick compared to the last hoe so does benefit from sharpening from time to time but if you can’t manage this then it’s not a real problem. As with any hoe I’ve used there is some dirt pick up but this doesn’t affect the way the hoe works so isn’t a problem. Although as you can see the blade is clean and shiny, if it were rusty then I think soil pick up might be more of a problem. As a hoe for general purpose work I would give it 7 out of 10 and for usability I will give it 8 out of 10. It’s a fine hoe to use and I only give it 8 because it doesn’t quite match up to the hoe I’m going to show you tomorrow.

A small amount of dirt pick-up but this amount doesn't affect the performance of the hoe.

17 June 2009

Push Pull Hoe

As far as I can make out this hoe is called a ‘push pull weeder’. As the name suggests it can be used in either direction which makes it a fast hoe if there is plenty of room between the plants like for instance in a rose or shrub border. I also us this hoe when I hoe gravel areas. It’s also good for working close to plants because of the side wings that denote the edge of the blade. Its light and the blade is thin and stays sharp. This is a good hoe and would be a great one if it were designed better. As it is it suffers badly from dirt pick up due to all its indentations, lumps and curves so much so that if you don’t keep on cleaning the dirt off it’s like weeding with a plank of wood. As a general purpose hoe I would not have any trouble recommending it and will award it 7 out of 10 and for usability I will be generous and give it 7 out of 10, I would give it more if it weren’t for the soil pick up also I don’t find it so good on hard ground or long weeds. Just one more thing, there is a smaller version of this hoe from Wolf Garten Tools.

In my opinion the underside of the blade should be flat so as to avoid dirt pick up. Dirt collects under the blade.
...and in all the other humps and hollows.

I'm not sure if you're a keen gardener or not Sara but anyone with a garden could do with a hoe, I use my hoe for several jobs besides weeding. I will show you what I get up to with my hoes some other time though.

I saw while watching the TV tonight that the Royal Mint are selling £5 coins for £5, if like me you're thinking there is nothing special about that deal wait till I tell you that carriage is £1.95. So if y'all want to get your £5 coins for £6.95 go to http://www.royalmint.com/ Personally though I'm going to wait until they put on a 2 for 1 offer. By the way, I think there is supposed to be something special about the £5 coin in question.

16 June 2009

Draw Hoe.

The hoe I’m going to show you tonight is what I know as a ‘draw hoe’. It’s not a hoe I often use for weeding except for some rough hacking down type of weed clearing. For general hoeing I don’t find it gives the sort of finish that I like as it’s hard to hoe off all the weeds without walking all over them which is to be avoided if possible or you run the risk of re-planting them again. However it is useful for pulling soil up around the potatoes etc. when ridging them up. I would give this type of hoe 3 out of 10 for general weeding purposes. For usability of this particular hoe I would rate it well though and give it 9 out of 10 because the blade is sharp and soil build up is minimal and it feels nice enough to use.

Emily and Matron I know what you’re saying, I do chop the odd plant off now and again but it’s usually when I’m not looking what I’m doing rather than the fault of the hoe. Another thing I find that leads to plant decapitation is if you’re having to use to much force either because the ground is hard or the hoe is not right for you in some way. Try and stand with it on a flat piece of ground like I showed you in the pictures yesterday and see if it sits level on the floor. If you are a shorter person the shaft of the hoe may be too long for you. The hand that is doing all the pushing and pulling should be right at the end of the handle and the other hand is used to steer the hoe. If you find you have to hold the hoe part way down the handle with you push and pull hand then I think the handle is to long for you. Also don’t be afraid to sharpen you hoe because the easier it goes through the soil the more control you will have over it and therefore less mistakes you will make.

15 June 2009

Choosing The Right Hoe.

I was asked the other day by Emily when is the correct time to sow Wallflowers? It’s a well timed question because they need to be sown now, I sowed the ones for the big house this morning. I know you aren’t going to be wanting to think about this yet but really now is a good time to be thinking about plants for winter and spring if you plan on growing your own. Not everything needs to be sown yet, I think Pansies are best left a while yet or they will come and go before winter is here but you need to be planning ahead.

Although it may not be obvious today what with the grey skies and rain but it’s almost summer and one of the most useful tools at this time of year I find is the hoe. It takes many forms and no doubt you’re like me and have your favourite. Hoeing is an important task, not only for getting on top of those weeds but I use my hoe to take out footprints and loosen up the soil so letting in the air. There is hardly a day goes by when I don’t use one hoe or another so this week I will give you a break from plants and show you some of the hoes I use and explain the choices and also give my opinion of how each one performs. This opinion won’t be that of a so called ‘expert’ who is all talk and no practical knowledge, it will be from a real gardener who has used the tools for many years and wants to help you make the right choice for yourself.

Before we take a look at my hoes I will try and explain what to look for when buying a hoe. Whatever sort of hoe you decide on the important thing is that it feels right for you. Don’t just grab the cheapest or one that looks pretty because if it doesn’t sit right in your hands your hoe will be like a nagging spouse and hoeing a chore that gives you nothing but a bad back. You need to take the hoe down from the stand and hold it in your hands as you would want to work with it. Holding it this way the blade should sit flat on the floor as in the pictures below.

If the edge is pointing upwards even a little bit the hoe will be forever trying to come out of the soil which I find is the worst thing in a hoe. If the front edge is touching the ground and the heel is off the floor the hoe will dig in to the soil which can be a good thing sometimes but really you want your hoe to skim along just under the surface of the soil so for this you really need your hoe to sit level. Another choice to make is whether to get one made of stainless steel or just ordinary steal. I personally prefer plain ordinary steel as I feel the hoe can be kept with a sharper edge on it. However if you are the sort of person who is prone to leaving your tools lying around or getting rusty then you will need a stainless steel blade because the worst thing ever for any hand tool is a rusty one. It makes the job at least twice as hard. You can of course get a copper hoe which has both the ability to keep a sharp edge and also rust proof but these are expensive and perhaps not really worth the extra expense unless you use your hoe a lot. Talking of which, how much should you pay for a hoe? To be honest I don’t think it should be a consideration, it’s something that’s going to last a life time if you look after it so in that sense one costing £80 is cheap if it feels right, on the other hand if you buy one for £5 and it wrecks your back every time you use it then to me that’s an expensive hoe.
Another range of hoes worth considering if you’re one of those who have to cart your tools down to the allotment or wherever are the ones with removable heads such as the ‘Wolf’ range of garden tools, these are my favourites because they have the right feel, are well made and also you can drop the whole tool shed in to a plastic bucket and off you go – don’t forget to take a handle with you though! Speaking of which there are also a variety of handles in different lengths so there will be a handle to fit your size.

6 June 2009


Today is Tommy's birthday, or at least its the 4th anniversary of the day I found him wandering like a wild beast in the forest. Since that day he has become a pleasant albiet at times noisy but greatly valued member of the family. Although I didn't know it at the time it has proved since to be one of the luckiest days of my life and he has more than paid for the trouble and strife he caused us in the beginning. I always had faith in him though and now it is he who puts his faith in me.