How about a new series on gardening tools? I'll try to drop one of these in every once in awhile.
So let's start things off with my favorite new tool from this year... The Dutch scuffle hoe. It's also called a push-pull hoe. This hoe is perfect for removing small weed seedlings from anywhere in your garden, but especially between new plants that haven't grown together yet to block weeds on their own.
The blade comes in a variety of shapes... rectangles, triangles, or even a stirrup. They are sharp on both the front and back sides, so they cut in both the forward and backward directions of motion (Push and Pull!). The point is to run the blade just under the soil/mulch surface to cut the weeds off. Since the weeds are small, you don't even need to pick them up. They will shrink down and start to compost so quickly you probably won't even see them by the next day. These hoes have a very long handle, so you don't need to do any bending at all. Almost no force is required to push the blade back and forth. This makes a weeding an incredibly quick chore. It can even work in gravel, although I have not personally tried that yet.
If you have just planted a brand new garden bed, going through with a scuffle hoe once every two weeks is all you need to do to remove small weed seedlings. The small head gets in between plants very easily and with minimal soil disturbance. Why is this important? Every time you disturb the soil, you allow new weed seeds to come to the surface and receive enough sunlight to germinate. Hand pulling larger weeds with large root systems also causes soil disturbance and, you guessed it, more weeds!
I have not ever seen these at big box stores. Ask for one at your local garden center, or you can find them online. Mine is made by Burgon and Ball and is called the Weed Slice. I got it from Garden Tool Co. and absolutely love it!
Do you have a favorite garden tool? Let me know if there's a tool you're curious about!