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Developing mastery skills with hand tools is important whether it is carpentry, mechanics, plumbing and/or gardening. These skills provided me with a sense of usefulness, competence, independence, and affirmation of self-worth. They also allow me to learn my limitations. Mastering the use of these tools involves formal and informal training, practice and more practice, plus reading to learn the many uses of these tools and the larger purposes for using them.

At 6 years of age, my mom taught me to use a hoe to thin cotton, leaving only 2 or 3 stalks per hill. I also practiced chopping the grass and weeds out of the rows without cutting any cotton stalks for $3 per day. I did this each spring for 6 years until we moved to town. A hoe and similar long handled garden tools fit my hands, use muscle memory, and are adapted for many uses.

Some of the gardening tools I use regularly are: various hoes, a small 4 cycle tiller, a garden 6 tined push plow attachment on a long handle, a rake, shovels, various short handled tools including hammers, a broad fork, and a garden fork.

Six of my favorite garden tools are a grubbing hoe, a 4 tine long handled cultivator and its 3 tine 18” handled companion, a Korean long handled cultivator with a small blade shaped like a breaking plow with one end pointed and the back end curved, plus its short handled companion, and a Hori Hori soil knife with a 7” stainless steel blade.

The grubbing hoe originally belonged to my Grandpa Fry who in the 1940s used it to dig a ditch letting water in the low area of a his farm land drain after heavy rains. I use it for heavy chopping but also to gently scrap small weeds in the middles of the garden rows. The 4 tine cultivator is like a hoe with 4” sharp tines rather than a blade. I use it to weed the garden rows as I pull dirt up onto the row aerating the soil and making it more friable. Raised rows allow for better drainage and root development while supporting the growing plants. I use the short handled 3 tine cultivator when the plants get large and need extra support. I use the point of the Korean long handled cultivator to make a 1 or 2 inch trench for planting seed after a raised row had been leveled. The side of the plow is then used to cover the seed. I then use the bottom of the plow to press the seed cover down. The short handled Korean cultivator is used to dig the holes to plant tomatoes and peppers. The Hori Hori knife has a thick blade with one side being serrated. This spring’s freeze killed my key lime tree. I cut the roots under the 10” stump with the Hori Hori Knife. It is a multi-useful tough tool.


4/21/2017    Gardening Know-How