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The right hoe for the right job.

EACH OF THE HOES and cultivators pictured here does at least one job better than its all-purpose counterparts and is well worth the cost if you have a garden chore that calls for what it does best. If not, it just becomes stock for your next garage sale.

Good hoes are rarely sharpened when you buy them, so you'll likely have to do the job yourself. To put an edge on a flat hoe, use a flat-sided, single-cut medium file. To sharpen a hooked blade, use a half-round file.


1 Collinear hoe. Equipped with a thin, sharp, straight blade, the collinear hoe is for frequent light cultivation around seed beds and vegetables. It's not good for heavy hoeing. It's available with a short or long handle.

2 Hand mattock-ax. This tool works best where competition from invading roots is serious. Just hoe until you encounter roots, then chop hard if they're perpendicular to the blade. If they're parallel, flip the hoe over and cut with the opposite blade.

3 Waring hoe. The deceptively simple hooked blade of this hoe can loosen the top 4 inches of soil and pull out weedy subsurface grass runners without breaking them off. The long-handled version shown here (it's also available as a hand tool) lets you spotweed without bending over.

4 Trake. This is made for gardeners who get sidetracked (read: most of us). Take it into a perennial bed for cultivation and light weeding in close quarters, then switch over to the trowel end to pop out thick-rooted dandelions, divide daisies, or transplant overcrowded perennials. The elongated handle gives the trake excellent leverage.

5 Multi-hoe. Though this looks like a medieval combat relic, its functions are simple. Use it rounded side down to scoop out planting rows or to chop out weeds. Flip it over, and use its straight blade to chop out roots that encroach on vegetable and flower beds. It can also edge grass on a small scale.

6 Dutch hoe. This hoe cuts out young weeds as you push it along under the soil surface, its blade parallel with the ground (people over 5 feet 6 inches might find this difficult). It can be flipped over and used to smooth beds after cultivation. It's sold in several versions.


Look for these tools at well-stocked nurseries and garden centers, or in mailorder tool catalogs. Here's where to find the most uncommon of them.

The collinear hoe is sold by Smith & Hawken, 25 Corte Madera, Mill Valley, Calif. 94941; (415) 383-2000. For the hand mattock-ax, write or call Brookstone Company, 5 Vose Farm Rd., Peterborough, N.H. 03458; (800) 846-3000. The Waring hoe is sold by The Gardener's Eye, Box 100963, Denver 80250; (800) 624-4192.
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Author:McCausland, Jim
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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