Alright - tools - what works and what doesn't

whatnow?

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I've broken more shovels than I care to admit. Older shovels (20 years) seem to have better spade blades, but the handles are limited. Newer fiberglass handled shovels dig without the fear of snapping the handle, but the blades seem to be cheaper and bend. In a fit of frustration, I bought (flameproof suit donned) the monstrously heavy, steel handled, fully welded shovel made by Fiskars. This sucker is sharp and doesn't have any flex at all. I love it, but it is probably too much for the 100 lb gardener.

Before I get flamed for poor technique, I usually break shovels while turning gardens. I get into a rythm... jump dig pitch... and before I know it I'll have all of my weight on the handle and the tip will have caught a monster rock or root... game over... shovel carnage. Anyone want to guess my weight? :lol: And yes, my digging bar is bent, too. :p

YARD CARTS-
This looks like a very useful tool, but an expensive purchase. Anyone use them and recommend them? I have a few hills (walkout basement) so a level lot is not exactly a good description for my yard.
 

mradam

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For turning my dirt, I've had decent luck with a spading fork.
Easier than a shovel (I think), and less back-breaking too. Someone told me that a mattock (it's kinda like a pick ax) works well too, but I have yet to try it.

I've got of my garden turned (with the fork) and will be doing the rest this week, hopefully!

Adam
 

Rosalind

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I prefer a mattock, actually. I am a teeny little weakling, and if I let the mattock kinda fall on the dirt of its own accord, with me just holding the thing lightly, it does a very good job.

Generally I hate digging enough that I try avoiding it as much as possible. I spread layers of compost, leaves, etc. over stuff and just wait. But when I have to dig a bed, I use a mattock and kinda rake the chunks of dirt around.
 

patandchickens

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whatnow? said:
YARD CARTS-
This looks like a very useful tool, but an expensive purchase. Anyone use them and recommend them? I have a few hills (walkout basement) so a level lot is not exactly a good description for my yard.
You mean the ones with the bicycle sort of wheels, and plywood bed/sides? I have never used one in the garden but have wheeled hay out to paddocks in countless ones at various horse barns. They are real handy for that. If you carry large amounts of not too heavy materials around on a frequent basis, it might be a worthwhile purchase. They will get seriously stuck in mud if you use them with a heavy load in wet soil, ask me how I know.

Myself, tho, for garden use, I prefer a good big wheelbarrow (plastic, not steel, pan) plus a variety of large lightweight carry-able containers such as galvanized dishtubs and plastic muck buckets.

For transporting really lightweight things, like raked leaves, I just pile 'em on a big tarp and drag them.

When I'm carting a buncha tools around with me, like my annual round of bareroot and potted tree/shrub planting, I sometimes toss the tools (shovel, digging bar, bonemeal, small tarp for dirt, etc) into one of those things people carry their shopping home from the market with. What do you call it? Doh. You know, it has two wheels, a tall upright wire basket, and handles like a stroller. That.


Pat
 

patandchickens

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I don't use a mattock unless absolutely necessary - all the bending bugs my back quite a lot. I do use a Pulaski, which is sort of like a mattock, for chopping roots off stumps I am going to pull, which is about once every coupla years. (I also use it frequently in the wintertime for getting off manure frozen to the ground around the horse shed)

Generally, tho, give me a strong shovel with a full-length handle any day. None of this 'spade' thing, with the short D-ended handle, pffhththt. I want leverage from a standing position ;) And then once the turf is off and the soil loosened, a good sturdy fork.

I've bent a 1.25"diameter iron digging bar. The 'trick', i.e. the thing to avoid unless you actually *want* to feel like an Amazon, is to bang it repeatedly on solid ice or a rock for a long time, trying to break the ice or rock, and then immediately jam it in soundly and lean your full weight on it. Who knew? I'm now waiting for a replacement to turn up at auction at a decent price :p

My main tool, though, is a scalloped-edge breadknife. EXCELLENT for edging, removing turf from smallish areas, digging in unimproved clay soil, dividing tough perennials, deadheading, light pruning, cutting twine, etc. Mine usually last a year or so before becoming too dull to use, and at $0.95 from the thrift store, certainly are the most economical tool a person could have!

Pat
 

digitS'

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Whatnow? I like the spading fork, also. The long-handled one is my choice. And, I try to do no more (or less) than thoroughly loosening of the soil :).

Once a bed has been cultivated to the full 11 inches of those tines - I can sometimes go a couple of years without repeating the process. The keys are adequate organic matter in the soil and never, ever walking on the beds. Paths, paths, paths - stay on the paths ;)!

Shovels are used for cleaning the paths and digging out a bed only when it is necessary to do some serious renewal of with compost. I do NOT like lifting weights at the end of a stick :eek:!

Carts - my wife took my construction-size wheelbarrow away from me and replaced it with this light-weight, junky one . . . I figure the thing will last another year or 2. The good wheelbarrow had been around since 1975, I think it was. She claimed that it encouraged too much heavy loading. I think that was her tendency, I was just the guy on the end of the handles :rolleyes:.

Steve
edited to say - a Pulaski?? :D! I thought that was just something used by forestry workers. I found mine out in the brush one day and have been using it now & then ever since. It's a good choice for roots.
 

whatnow?

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patandchickens said:
You mean the ones with the bicycle sort of wheels, and plywood bed/sides? I have never used one in the garden but have wheeled hay out to paddocks in countless ones at various horse barns. They are real handy for that. If you carry large amounts of not too heavy materials around on a frequent basis, it might be a worthwhile purchase. They will get seriously stuck in mud if you use them with a heavy load in wet soil, ask me how I know.

Myself, tho, for garden use, I prefer a good big wheelbarrow (plastic, not steel, pan) plus a variety of large lightweight carry-able containers such as galvanized dishtubs and plastic muck buckets.

For transporting really lightweight things, like raked leaves, I just pile 'em on a big tarp and drag them.

When I'm carting a buncha tools around with me, like my annual round of bareroot and potted tree/shrub planting, I sometimes toss the tools (shovel, digging bar, bonemeal, small tarp for dirt, etc) into one of those things people carry their shopping home from the market with. What do you call it? Doh. You know, it has two wheels, a tall upright wire basket, and handles like a stroller. That.


Pat
Yeah, that's the one. Someone gave me one of those plastic ones with plastic wheels and I hated it because the handle was too close to the body... it lacked something very important in a product... ergonomics. I just couldn't push anything around without kicking it while I walked.

It's getting too tight to drive around the yard and I need to be able to move stuff around without dragging out the mower/trailer (probably has a flat anyway, despite my liberal use of that green goo on every piece of equipment with inflatable tires.)
 

whatnow?

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mradam said:
For turning my dirt, I've had decent luck with a spading fork.
Easier than a shovel (I think), and less back-breaking too. Someone told me that a mattock (it's kinda like a pick ax) works well too, but I have yet to try it.

I've got of my garden turned (with the fork) and will be doing the rest this week, hopefully!

Adam
If I could find a fork with cast/forged tines and a 48 inch or so handle, I'd be on board. I find tools with a D handle awkward over long periods of time.

I wish I were not only done turning, but done planting. Too sick to work. Here comes the guilt relieving rain, at least.


I guess I'm not too familiar with a maddock. I think I have a pickaxe. It has a sharp blade which would be good for removing the toes of someone standing in front of you and facing you, and on the other side it has a pointed end which would stick firmly into the fleshy part of the ankle, roughly where a boot tongue would be, provided it doesn't bounce off of the bone. :(

Grant (who does not have permanant limp despite an excellent effort)
 

countryatheart

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One of my favorite tools is a hoe with tines like a turning fork. I am wondering if anyone has ever used a stirrup hoe for weeding?
 

SewingDiva

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countryatheart said:
One of my favorite tools is a hoe with tines like a turning fork. I am wondering if anyone has ever used a stirrup hoe for weeding?
I think we have a hoe like that - it belonged to my grandfather; I love using it. It's pretty narrow, only about 6 inches wide, and the tines are *really* sharp. Its wonderful for quickly breaking up soil and weeding a bed before setting in plants.

We also have a sitrrup hoe, and they make quick work of weeding, but are best used on a regular basis while weed seedlings are small. You can sharpen them wth a rasp.

I wonder about hand weeding tools; I need to find a good one for the tight spaces of a raised bed. The stirrup hoe is too big and it will decaptiate a plant easily.

Can anyone suggest one they like?

~Phyllis
 

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