“ Brand: Joseph Enterprises / Type: Digging „
Every now and again a new product's launched that, after owning it for a while, makes you wonder how on earth you ever managed without it. Ok, this particular product hasn't made the sort of impact on my life that electric light had on my grandmother or the automatic washing machine had on my dear ol' mum but for those who are partial to a spot of gardening, the Garden Claw's certainly a worthwhile addition to the tool shed. Before I go further, let it be said that our version of the garden claw is NOT the original by Joseph Enterprises, but a cheaper version by 'The Kent Collection', whoever they may be. I saw a trolley load of them being sold off for £3.99 each at our local Focus store and although I'll admit to thinking that they were probably rubbish to be 'dumped' at that price, considering the original are being sold at £34.99, it was worth the gamble. Our claw is a green and about 36 inches high (3 foot). I'm 5'9" and although not exactly uncomfortable to use, it could've done with another couple of inches to be the correct working height for me. But these things are no doubt designed for the average gardener and if they're statistically 5'7", who am I to argue? However, I believe the original Gold version of the Garden Claw is height adjustable. It's made of steel and weight wise, it's just about right. I tried to find our version on the net but there's no trace of it so I guess they're knocked out cheap in Taiwan or somewhere and sold here for a tenner, or four quid when they don't move quick enough. Where there would normally be a fork or spade on the end of a long shaft, this tool has...yes, you guessed it, a claw! This claw is a six pronged contraption, four of the prongs positioned in each corner of a square pattern with two shorter prongs in the middle. The outer prongs are slightly angled (like a whisk) and each prong h as a flattish, narrow arrow type point at the end. At first glance it didn't really strike me as being something that'd be particularly useful to dig with at all and unless you saw the original TV ads, you'd be excused for not being entirely sure how to use it. The idea is to twist rather than dig. The corkscrew spiral action loosens up compacted soil thus making the soil easier to weed, plant or move. You'll still need a fork for lifting out embedded roots, bits of rubble and the likes and you'll still need a spade for shifting earth and digging deep planting holes but when it comes to breaking up soil or turning the earth, it really don't think it can be beaten. I recently wanted to make a patio and gravel garden under our kitchen window and thanks to the claw the whole job was completed in one afternoon. You're probably thinking I must be a strong, energetic Charlie Dimmock type for managing that but I'm afraid that's way off the truth. I have a condition that leaves me bed bound on a bad day and, if I'm lucky, capable of walking about 100 yards on a good day, before I need a rest. Given that when I'm working in the garden I probably spend more time taking a break than actually doing anything physical, getting the patio area cleared, evened and graveled in one afternoon was something of a feat. Add to the equation that our soil consists mainly of clay and builder's rubble and it's not far off a miracle. I've been gardening for a long time and in lots of gardens so I have enough experience to be able to say for certain that I wouldn't have finished the job anywhere near as quickly without the claw. A spade wouldn't have penetrated the heavily compacted, weed ridden surface and even if it had, the pieces of brick and cement would've made digging difficult. A fork would've been easier but the heavy, damp clay would still have been difficult to work; the grass and weeds would still have taken a lot of pulling away from the clods. The claw works in a way that's almost like ploughing. You push the prongs into the soil (you don't need to go deep so this is easy) and then simply twist. As the handle's a T shape, the twisting action is no more difficult than turning the handlebars on a bicycle. One twist is usually sufficient on good soil that just needs some aerating, three or four twists in each spot if you're loosening an area like mine. Each twist works the tool deeper into the soil with the final result being soil that's loose enough for the vegetation to be easily picked out. Once the area was cleared I needed to mix plenty of compost, manure, grit and bonemeal into the soil where plants were to go. The faithful claw came in handy here too. First I removed about six inches of the loosened soil with my shovel, tipped the humus and other goodies into the trenches, then used the twisting action like a mixer, blending the ingredients together with the underlying clay to make a more free-draining, nutritious base that the plants would thrive in. You can easily adjust how deep you want to go so the claw's also useful for loosening up the surface of beds and borders without disturbing any underlying bulbs or damaging delicate roots. Breaking up soil is necessary for efficient watering, it allows rain to penetrate the soil and loose crumbs are vital for seeds in need of a good start. There's also a small, hand held version available that's designed for removing individual weeds and breaking up the surface between established plants. Personally, I'd imagine that a hand held fork or trowel would work equally as well but we don't have one but a friend and fellow gardener assures me that it's very handy. I'm sure she knows better than me. The claw's also useful if you have a lawn as the tines (prongs) can be used to aerate it. As our est ate's having a gardening competition next year, I've decided that the scruffy lawn at the front of the house has to go so our Garden Claw will be put through its paces once again. I'm even looking forward to it! For me, the Garden Claw's invaluable. I know I wouldn't be able to do anywhere near as much in the garden without it and unless you particularly enjoy doing things the hard way, I'd highly recommend it. ~~~+~~~+~~~
The Joseph Garden Claw is a tool designed to cultivate soil. By twisting the claw into the ground and pulling out, it breaks the surface leaving weeds exposed for easy removal. In theory this is a good idea and should work well, but in practice, unless you have soil that is more compost like then you are likely to struggle with the task. Less able bodied or older gardeners may find the Garden Claw of benefit because you use it in the standing position, so there is not too much bending involved, I personnaly found it of little use in my garden of slightly clay soil. So be aware conditions have to be good for this tool to perform well.
Allthough I take nothing away from the idea of the garden claw, the advertising for it really disgusts me. The Garden claw is a very usefull peice of gardening equipment. The idea of it is to take the strain out of turning up soil. Its claw design means you can twist the fork into the soil rather than have to push into the ground. The idea is sound and I'm sure that it helps out in some situations, but the advert allways shows either soft soil or the fork allready in the hard ground. trying to use the garden claw in very hard and dry soil can be just as hard if not harder than using a normal every day fork. The mini claw on the other hand I think is just useless for the price it would cost against a normal trowel. Churning up the soil in window box's is not that difficult and does not require a special tool like the mini claw. I think they were just trying to get that bit of extra cash out of the patented claw design. Good idea has a use but still is not a full proof tool