Initial Impressions Of Three New Hand Tools For Gardening

-A.J.

We have enough whiskey barrels and raised beds now that I thought it might be helpful to purchase some hand tools specifically designed for small weeding tasks. I went with a Hori Hori knife, a Japanese sickle, and a CobraHead weeder.  Three tools was probably overkill, but I’ve wanted to try a Hori Hori knife and a Japanese sickle for quite a while. The CobraHead looked interesting too, and I thought it might work best on the dandelions and similar weeds with a long taproot.

What follows are my initial impressions of each tool.

First up:  The CobraHead

180428 cobrahead

The CobraHead worked well specifically on dandelions. To use, just smack down behind the root and pull back towards yourself. For big weeds you pull the weed with your off hand while you’re pulling on the CobraHead. It seemed to get all of the taproot about half the time, and I’d say it got most of the taproot most of the rest of the time. The instructions say not to use the tool as a pry bar, but the shape almost begs for it to be used that way. I’m not going to be shocked if I get a little too enthusiastic at some point and wind up breaking off the tip.

My feeling is that we’ll mostly be using the CobraHead in the yard on dandelions and maybe on weeds that live in cracks in the cement. We may use it to help with seeds and transplants, but I think the next tool will get that call…

The Hori Hori knife:

180428 hori hori

Sharp! Sharp! Sharp! And it comes with a sharpening tool. The Hori Hori knife slides into the soil like butter. It makes a regular trowel feel clunky by comparison. It will remove weeds, but I didn’t feel like it was super efficient at removing weeds with a large tap root. I think we’ll be using it for assorted small digging tasks, breaking up/sawing off small roots, and transplanting seedlings. It may wind up taking most or all of the tasks from the dibbler. The dibbler has proven to be good for making holes for transplants, but I’m guessing the Hori Hori knife can do that too, and it has a built-in measuring stick for plant spacing/ planting depth.

I’ll probably buy some Class 5 cut resistant gloves for the Hori Hori knife and the final new toy…

The Japanese sickle:

180428 japanese sickle

I selected this variety of Japanese sickle because it has no welding weak point. It has good heft and it’s sharp as heck. To use it swing down behind the weed and pull. If you twist your wrist a little at the same time it will drop the point directly down into the soil, giving the sickle a function similar to the CobraHead. It also functions as a very small hoe, and it’s easy to control around established plants. I was able to quickly and easily clean up the raised herb beds. At one point I was able to pop a weed out of the center of a chive plant by aiming the tip straight down and then twisting — I was totally surprised it was that easy. This tool was by far the most fun and versatile to use — I filled two 5-gallon buckets with weeds very quickly, then went looking for more “trouble” in the yard.

Three new toys. I think they’ll all see use. Hopefully these purchases will fix my desire for garden shopping for a while.

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