It’s been a sad week in the garden -- not because of the near-drought conditions or the number of weeds that remain. It’s because I’ve lost my constant gardening companion for the past 15 years – my Dutch hand hoe.
This was the first good garden tool I ever bought -- a splurge at the time, but one that proved to be worth it. This hoe lasted through three gardens in three different cities. Sun, shade, you name it, this little tool was great for tackling whatever needed doing.
Sure, I had lost it more times than I’d care to admit – in piles of weeds or fallen leaves, behind some empty plastic nursery pots in the garage. I had even left it out in the rain. Somehow I always managed to find it. Every spring, I would use a steel brush to remove the rust and debris from the previous season. Then I’d sharpen the blade and oil it, making it almost good as new.
By now, of course, the metal blade was pitted and I could no longer read the name on the handle. But it had gotten to the point where it felt like a natural extension on my hand, sort of like the way an old shoe feels. Give me this tool, a pruners and a shovel and I was ready to take on any garden task.
My hoe died with its boots on, so to speak. I had just used it to remove grass that was too close to my yellowwood tree. I was chopping up the heavy clay soil left behind when the blade bounced off a clod and bent inward. I nudged it back as I had a hundred times before. On the next stroke, the blade broke off completely.
I was in denial at first. This couldn’t be! It had always survived before. Maybe I could find someone to weld it back together. I laid the pieces on the ground and went inside for a break. My husband found them and threw them away.
Life goes on and the garden needs to be weeded so I’m looking for another hand hoe. I’ll buy a new one, but it will never totally replace the original. You never really forget a good garden tool.
By Karen Geisler