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I love my gardening and like to have all the different tools for the individual uses to hand for when I need them. I use a hoe regularly as I find it an easy tool to turn the soil especially around my vegetables. I bought this one from my local garden centre for £15 last year which I think is a good price as they retail for as much as £28. I do like Spear and Jackson tools as they are a very well known and respected company who have been around for over two hundred and fifty years.
.. What it looks like ..
The head is stainless steel which is polished and very bright and shiny and the handle is made from aluminium and has a black rubber coating about a third of the way up which makes it very easy to grip onto and is soft to the touch. I find that I can use the hoe without any gloves and my hands never slip or get really sweaty. The blade is really quite sharp and it hasn't seemed to lose any of the initial sharpness and I find that it can cut through the roots of weeds or lift them up so that I can pull them out easily. There is a triangular cut out just above the blade which helps to turn the area you are working and help to prevent the soil from sticking to the hoe. As some of the soil will pass through this hole it helps you to rotate the area you are working. It is 168cm long and weighs 0.82 kilos so is quite lightweight to use and doesn't feel heavy even if I am using it for some time.
.. How to use it ..
This hoe is suitable for general weeding and you use a sort of push-pull motion with the blade just below the surface of the soil. As the blade is quite sharp this cuts weeds off at the root and helps to break up and agitate the soil around your plants or vegetables. It can also be used for establishing rows for seeds and the best way to do this is to secure a line in order to keep your row straight and then either with the blade facing down or to the side you can dig out a trench by pulling the hoe towards you from half an inch which is suitable for flower or vegetable seeds up to the full width of the hoe which would be suitable for potatoes or other root vegetables.
For the best comfort a hoe should be the correct length so that you don't have to overly bend over. If you stand upright and place the hoe against your body the end of the handle should reach at least up to your ear. It is okay if it is slightly longer but if it is shorter if you use it correctly this will put a strain on your lower back. You should stand upright as if you are holding a broom with your feet approximately eighteen inches apart and hoe the soil around a foot in front of you trying not to bend your back. If you do feel any discomfort if you just move your feet slightly either way this could make a big difference and make the process feel a lot more comfortable. When you find you are comfortable you then walk backwards slowly always working the soil about a foot in front of you by pushing and pulling the hoe back towards you. If you do this correctly you are never bending your back or straining your muscles.
.. What I do with it ..
I do use this tool a lot for weeding as I find that it is far easier than kneeling down and using my hand tools. Obviously I have to pick up the weeds afterwards (its good but not that good!) but it most definitely cuts the time down when I am bending or kneeling to do this and saves my back. I find that as it has a long handle you can apply a lot of pressure without using much force and it does uproot weeds easily and cut through roots.
I do use it to make trenches for seeds and root vegetables and I find that it is particularly useful to earth up my potatoes as I have quite a large area where I grow these and this used to take forever with my hand tools. I have used this to dig up my crops but you do have to be careful as the blade is sharp and can slice your vegetables easily. I find that the six inch blade can work a lot of soil at one time and I seem to get my garden jobs done quickly with this.
As it is quite a long tool I find that I have a good reach and can turn the soil at the back of the potato patch without treading on the soil. We have a large area with quite large shrubs at the side of the garden and I can reach around the back of the larger shrubs to loosen the weeds behind without any trouble. The blade on this is six inches wide so it does work a lot of soil at one time. I find that the soil doesn't seem to stick very much to the blade and a quick wipe over with one of my many gardening cloths when I have finished is sufficient to clean it before I put it away
.. Conclusion ..
As with most Spear and Jackson tools this came with a 10 year guarantee but I am sure that it will last far longer than that. I have probably had it for around two years now and it hasn't shown any signs of wear or tear apart from a few scratches on the stainless steel head where I have come into contact with rocks or stones when I have been using it.
This hoe comes highly recommended and is definitely easier on my back as I don't have to bend over so much while weeding or turning the soil, and it definitely helps me to keep my garden neat and tidy without exerting myself. It is a good quality and a good design and I enjoy using it in my garden. I am just sorry that I didn't buy one years ago.....
As any gardener will tell you, a Dutch hoe is a very useful weapon in the gardener's arsenal especially for getting at those nasty little weeds which always seem to flourish more than the plants, or at least they do in my garden.
After many years of faithful service and equally long damp winters spent in the garden shed, my trusty Dutch hoe literally fell apart this Spring. It had belonged to my Dad, and possibly his dad before him, who gave it to me when I first moved into a house with a garden, so it was with a heavy heart that I consigned it to the dump but the wooden handle had simply crumbled away and the metal head was extremely rusty and no longer up to the task of dealing with the rampant weed growth in my rather neglected garden.
I looked around for a replacement and plumped for the Spear & Jackson hoe retailing at Argos for £7.49. Spear & Jackson are a well-known and well-respected manufacturer of garden tools, first founded in Sheffield at the end of the eighteenth century, so I assumed they'd learned a thing or two about making steel tools in the last two hundred and fifty years.
This particular hoe is entirely made from metal and I reasoned that an all-metal hoe would fare better in the damp British winters to come than my previous wooden handled one.
The stainless steel head has a very highly polished blade which Spear & Jackson claims ensures minimal soil adhesion. The shaft is made from aluminium so is very lightweight and, certainly from a female perspective, it's an easy tool to maniupulate especially when hoeing weeds at the back of the border. The hoe has a soft grip which extends quite a long way down the shaft. This grip feels like rubber but I suspect it may actually be made of plastic. Whatever it's composition, however, it is comfortable to hold and is non-slip.
As I've already said, this tool is very lightweight so easy to manipulate. I often found with my old hoe that reaching to the back of the border without treading on the garden was quite difficult and put considerable strain on the muscles in my upper arms. I don't have that problem with this hoe though which also has a longer shaft than my previous one.
The blade is sharp, as well as shiny, and cuts easily through the shallow roots of annual weeds as well as loosening the roots of the more persistent perennial weeds such as couch grass and dandelions, making them easier to finish uprooting by hand.
The claim made by Spear & Jackson about soil adhesion so far also seems to hold water. Because of the highly polished blade the soil does indeed seem to stay on the ground rather than stick onto the surface of the hoe although because it's a fairly new garden tool, I am still looking after it and cleaning it after each use. I imagine if the cutting blade is allowed to become dull then more soil would adhere to the surface of the blade.
I have no hesitation in recommending this hoe. It is cheap to buy, easy to use, well made and built to last. I anticipate I shall be using this for many gardening years to come.
The Select Dutch Hoe has a mirror polished stainless steel head for rust resistance and minimal soil adhesion. The handle is made of lightweight aluminium with a long soft-feel grip making it comfortable and easy to use. 10 Year Guarantee