Hoe Hoe Hoe
Back in the dark ages, I used to work as a gardener, and the center of my existence was an implement known as the "scuffle hoe." When I got a garden of my own, some considerable time later, I went looking for the same item to assist with weed removal, and was completely and utterly unable to find it.
I carried little drawings of what I was looking for around with me, but nobody had it, and nobody had heard of it. Not even the dawn of the web made it possible for me to find this item, so I settled, and bought a triangular push hoe, which worked OK, but really needs to have a sharper edge on it (that is mostly just me being lazy). It's not very good for places where there are a lot of rocks in the ground, which means it works great in our cultivated beds, but not on the pathways where we really need bulk weed removal.
Then a few weeks ago I was browsing the hoes at the hardware store in SLO when the gentleman in charge urged me to try out the stirrup hoe: a push hoe that rocks back and forth as you work. He said it was the perfect tool for the job of cultivating out weeds in rocky soil. The rocking motion seemed unlikely to be very pleasant, but he promised to take it back if it sucked and so I bought it and brought it home, and lo and behold it was pretty damned nice. Noel likes it quite a bit.
To complicate matters, the stirrup hoe is sometimes called a scuffle hoe, which it should not for reasons I will go into in a moment.
At the same time, it occurred to me that the garden where I worked ran things with mostly British tools, so there was good chance that the scuffle hoe was a British phenomenon. So I browsed around hoes in British tool web sites and there it was! They called it a Dutch hoe, and this turns out to be the origin of the name "scuffle hoe"; "schoffelen" is the Dutch word for "to weed."
Searching on "Dutch hoe" turned up a source in the US for the item I wanted, and I ordered it. It arrived last week and today I was able to take it out and give it a whirl; it worked just like the scuffle hoes of old. I am ever so happy about it, and it works just fine around the rocks like I remembered.
The best part is that Noel is not as enthusiastic as I am about the scuffle hoe, so he sticks to the stirrup hoe and we are both happy. Now I just need to get a nice big file and sharpen the triangular push hoe and all will be well.
posted by ayse on 05/27/06