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Gene Logsdon: Good Hoes/Bad Hoes

Posted Aug 11 2010 10:45am

If you look closely at the photo to the left, you will see what I failed to see for many years. Although I think of myself as a venerable member of the Brethren of the Holy Hoe Society, and have made shiny the handles of more than a few hoes, I took their construction for granted all these years. I did not scrutinize any of them, thinking that once you have met one hoe, you’ve met them all. Wrong.

In the photo, the hoe with the blue collar around the end of the handle (the collar is also referred to as a shank or a ferrule) is a cheap one, a bad one. Notice that the blade and the crook neck above the blade are separate from the collar. The neck fits down inside the collar. Notice the nails driven in around the neck. I had to resort to this kind of makeshift repair because the neck of the hoe kept loosening up inside the collar. Then the hoe blade would turn sideways every time it hit the soil surface. The nails hold the blade firm for only a few hours of weed whacking. Then I had to wedge in bigger nails. Eventually the whole contraption got too loose to hold the hoe blade in place this way.

 Nor is the collar made so that it can be removed from the hoe handle no bolt, screw, or nail holding it in place. Far as I can tell, some kind of machine pressed an indentation into the collar and on into the wood so that the handle would stay in place. For all practical purposes, this hoe is made to throw away in a few years. A real repair job, if possible, would cost more than a new cheap hoe.

Now look at the other hoe blade. This is a good hoe. The collar, neck, and blade are all one solid piece. Because I am not a great photographer, it looks a little like the neck is inserted into the collar but believe me, it is all one solid piece. Surely, someone still makes a hoe like this, but I have spent considerable time onlining and haven’t turned one up yet nor have I seen one in a hardware store. Smith & Hawken once carried imported tools with single-piece heads, but that company is no longer with us. The advertisers use all sorts of words to make it sound like the blade and collar are all one solid piece, but scrutinizing the pictures on Google, I have yet to find a full-length, real- life, garden hoe with a business end of one solid piece. But if you know of one, I am here to say: buy it.

Read the rest of Gene’s hoe-mage on his blog, The Contrary Farmer

Want more tips from The Contrary Farmer? Pick up a copy of Gene’s freshest contribution to the agricultural canon, Holy Shit, Managing Manure to Save Mankind . This delightful book describes how our society is going to be in deep shit if we don’t figure out how to deal with our poo in a sustainable fashion. 

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