I own a lot of different kind of gardening tools. The most unusual one has to be my hand-held rotary hoe.
Farmers have been using large rotary hoes for decades. These are non-powered tools, not to be confused with rotary tillers. They were especially popular in the days before chemical herbicides came into wide-spread use.
The design is basically a series of specially shaped discs mounted side by side on an axle 10 or 12 feet wide. There are different configurations; some discs are star-shaped, others have small spoon-shaped ends attached around the circumference of the disc.
To use a rotary hoe, the farmer pulls the hoe behand a tractor at a fairly fast speed. The star points enter into the soil at about 90 degrees — straight down. As it moves forward and rotates, the point leaves the soil at an angle lifting some soil at the same time. This lifting action pulls up germinating weeds.
It is the weeds you don’t see — those still underground — that get destroyed. By the time you see the first leaves poking up out of the soil, it is almost too late to rotary hoe.
A rotary hoe in action runs right over everything in its path — the crop plants as well as the weeds. The crop plant, usually corn, is well-rooted and can’t be yanked out by the hoe. The leaves get torn up in the process but the corn plant recovers quickly.
Chemical herbicides, increasing labor costs, and high fuel prices caused most farmers to abandon their rotary hoe years ago. Many organic farmers still use them however.
My little hoe is a just a scaled-down version of those large, farm implements. It actually works quite well whenever I remember to use it early enough.
What’s your most unusual gardening tool?