Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hoe Hoe Hoe

ProfessorRoush just returned home with a vast number of new gardening implements and ornaments purloined from the home farm in Indiana, which, as I've noted before, my parents are selling.  Among other items from my father's vast tool collection, I present to you the half-dozen hoes I brought home.  I could use some help identifying some of them, if you know about them.  Maybe my hoe-collecting friend Carol, of May Dreams Garden, can help out.
Pictured from left to right, they are: a common garden hoe, a Razor collinear hoe, a Dutch-type or push hoe, a Ho-Mi (Korean) hoe, an unknown monstrosity, and my grandfather's "tomato-planting hoe". 

I haven't a clue what type of hoe #5 is.  It has no markings to aid identification.  It could be even be something other than a hoe (a gravel-spreading instrument?), and it is fairly heavy, but the curved edge opposite the triangular tines is beveled and quite sharp.  I've spent several hours searching the Internet for it, including pages and pages of garden hoes, but I can't match it.  And please, be careful searching the Internet for "garden hoe".   The term brings back a much broader set of images than you would expect.  You might be surprised by the items and pictures you find, the most benign of which was the Dirty Garden Hoe coffee mug I ran across and the Gale Borger mystery "Death of a Garden Hoe" (about the murder of a prostitute and a missing garden hoe, of course).  Researching various garden hoes, however, is always rewarding.  I had forgotten, for instance, that collinear hoes are "thumbs-up" hoes, to be used in a pull-scrape motion rather than hacking at the ground.

I'm most intrigued to test the Ho-Mi Korean hoe, although I have no idea where my father came by it. The name translates to "little ground spear" in Korean and the tool was first made in Korea during the Bronze Age.  Jeff Taylor recommended it's use in his book, Tools of the Earth.  It is light and seems similar to a Warren hoe, my favorite planting tool, but also seems to combine the best features of a Warren and a Collinear hoe.  I'm already planning to try it out as soon as the ground thaws here. Five thousand years of use is about as time-tested as anyone could want, but I'll put in my two cents as well.

The award for sentimental value, of course, goes to the heirloom tomato-planting hoe.  If you look at the picture of it closely, you'll see a narrowed, darkened area near the midsection, the result of years of hard use and calloused hands.  Modern ergonomic designers could take a lesson from this hoe.  When I grasp the hoe at that spot, it balances perfectly and seems to snuggle into my hand, transmitting in an instant the infinite toil and sweat this hoe has shared with my ancestors.  I'll also use it this Spring, planting my tomatoes with it and carrying on a tradition embedded deep in my genes.

I already had a number of hoes, so this collection adds to my own swan-neck hoe, half-moon hoe, Warren hoe, and Nejiri gama hoe.  The new hoes will take a little work over the next week; they all need sharpening and rust protection, and their handles need a good coat of linseed oil.  My father and I share the gardening gene, but only I hold my maternal grandfather's respect for care of my tools.  At the home farm, I left behind the scuffle hoe (which I used as a young boy and have an intense hatred of) and our venerable two-pronged hoe that my father plans to keep in use at his new home.  And stay tuned for blogs about other items I brought back.  My trip to Indiana was primarily to retrieve a grandfather clock, but I think my garden benefited the most from the trip.  In the meantime, ProfessorRoush wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Garden Hoeing.



  1. Most of your other hoes show up on the A. M. Leonard site, but not your mystery hoe. I suggest you take a picture of its head and then use the image to do a Google image search. Got here via your comment on Carol's blog post, btw.

    1. Thanks Kathy for the idea. I did try it, but came up empty on the mystery hoe. However, I did find that my grandfather's hoe is similar to a "Hoe-Dag" a registered hoe that was supposed to be designed 50 years ago....obviously a copy of a much older hoe since my grandfather's hoe has to go back at least 80 years.

  2. Those are some very fine hoes! I am green with envy... oh wait, I always wear green... I'm green with admiration that you thought to bring those back with you from Indiana. But I must say, I am a tad bit disappointed that you left the scuffle hoe behind. I hope you don't regret that.

    As for the mystery hoe, it is mystery to me. I have one with that kind of cut that I got from The Garden Tool Co. They call it a spork but it doesn't have the triangular head on it. If I ever run across one, I'll let you know.

    I look forward to seeing what else you brought back from the family farm.


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