Monday, 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.


EB said...

Would you believe, this is the first year I've used a hoe. Before this I've got tired of the garden before we got to the time when it was dry enough to us. Our hoe was given to us by relatives in a sort of starter kit of tool and is the one thing we've not upgraded. I do find it unwieldy. I will have a look and try of the options next time I'm at the garden-centre.

Matron said...

I find that I am a bit clumsy with a hoe! Before I know it I have beheaded the very plants I am supposed to be helping!

Surreal Sue said...

Did not realise that there were so many differents types of hoe. I am being educated reading your blogs. Sue