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29 October 2014

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Weeding vegetable patches

by Tony Gipp
Weeding around vegetables without damaging the crop can be a time-consuming and back-breaking job, but with the help of these cheaply-adapted tools it need not be either.

Celery hoe

This is a superb and very old circular hoe from the Fens. I remember my mother using a celery hoe when I was a boy.

She would be bent almost double moving along at almost walking pace covering a large area of land in a working day. It was gruelling work but she was good at it and enjoyed it.

Tony Gipp at work with the celery hoe.
Tony Gipp at work with the celery hoe

I also remember farm stockmen trimming and cleaning soil stuck to the roots of mangel – wurzels using these hoes.

As a boy, I spent many hours on Saturday mornings cleaning mangels to earn pocket money.

Barbara uses the hoe for weeding celery, leeks, onions and carrots, although she operates the hoe more comfortably than my mother did in days gone by.

Barbara prefers using this hoe to the circle hoe.

These hoes were usually made by the local blacksmith by heating and bending a length of metal barrel hoop to make a ring about 3in diameter with two flat ends 2in in length, inserted into a slot cut in the sawn end of a short length of standard hoe or broom handle.

Finally after inserting the hoe in the slot, the handle and hoe flat was drilled through and riveted.      

A lengthened celery hoe and multi-purpose tool

Bending for a great number of people including me is a problem, so I have extended the hoe, so it can be used without bending.

The multi-purpose tools laid out ready to use.
The multi-purpose tools

The extension was made by slipping a length of plastic water pipe over the end of the existing handle for about 3in.

The plastic pipe is about 42in long x 1.1/8th in diameter and fits snugly. The pipe flexes so to make it rigid, a length of planed light wood 1in x 1in was pushed into the pipe reaching down to the top of the wooden hoe handle.

The surplus wood was then sawn off to leave 5in protruding from the plastic pipe.

The 5in of pipe insulation with a 1in bore was pushed over the protruding wood to make a soft handle end. The overall length of the extended hoe is 59in.

Seed sowing pipe

When dismantled the plastic pipe is used to set beans, peas and other crops without bending.

Line marker

The centre wood can be used on grow beds and large containers for a line marker.


last updated: 20/10/05
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