It rained for forty days and forty nights, more or less, and my weeds are in ecstasy. So today I went out after them with this fabulous bit of ironmongery, the Austrian grape hoe:
In the battle against weeds, I don’t get to go in there and blast them all to death with round-up, as conventional growers do. This is the one respect in which growing organic actually is, I think, more demanding – and by more demanding, I mean bloody well exhausting.
In the absence of noxious earth-destroying child-sickening dangerous chemicals, my main weapons are: the triangle hoe, the strirrup hoe, and the Austrian grape hoe.
The triangle hoe enables me to get at the weeds while they are still teensy: I scrape the intruders out from all around the plants, and can do this while walking proudly along down the line, instead of squatting and hunching along in the usual servile weeding position.
Weeds that are between the rows are easily scraped out, while small, with the stirrup hoe. It’s a beautiful thing, to just jolly along, scraping this thing along the earth, seeing the weeds practically leap out of the earth, rushing to their own demise.
But invariably some of them escape me, and when I turn around they are ten feet tall. Then it’s time to bring in the big guns.
The important thing to keep in mind about these hand tools is that, in order for them to work well, they MUST be well made. And this means, sadly, you get what you pay for. The average hoe you can pick up in your local hardware store is good to stir soup with, and that’s about it. Every angle, every measurement matters. So you may find a number of items that look more or less like hoes, but if you try to use them for anything other than a redneck photoshoot, they will utterly fail you.
Keep in mind that before the industrial revolution, people worked the fields that fed the world, with simple tools like this, plus a few larger horse or ox or mule-drawn items. Unfortunately, now that we have mowers and tractors and such, people no longer realize just how powerful the older, simpler tools can be – and so, when we find ourselves out there trying to work the soil with some piece of crap made in China, and the damn thing won’t even break sod, we figure it’s just the nature of the beast.
Put a little extra effort into finding a good garden hoe, though, and you will realize that the distance between a reliable tool and a piece of crap is comparable to the difference between an Amarone della Valpolicella, and Boone’s Farm. You will also begin to develop huge arm muscles.
I was walloping away at the soil, as seen above, for well over an hour today, nonstop, and I am now ready to keel over. This needs to be patented as a workout, so that rich yuppies will come pay me for the privilege of doing my weeding for me.