Despite the fact that it has snowed at my house three times in the last week, the plants are all pretending that spring has arrived. Chas Redmond, my farmers market tabling buddy has also declared it to be spring as well. And my hens have picked up their egg laying in spite of the torrential downpours and hurricane speed winds that have been whipping around lately.
All this means that the weeds are already starting to fill the empty spaces in my garden. I’ve even seen a few dandelions in bloom already. I feel so behind already on my weeding and it’s only the first week of March!
Thankfully, the Tool Library has a great collection of weeding tools to help get the yard under control. I’ve personally tested all of these tools and can highly recommend them with a few caveats.
The stirrup hoe, also commonly called the hula hoe, is a great tool for weeding wide-open beds. It digs down up to an inch into the soil, slicing weed roots and eliminating large numbers of small weeds with one easy motion. The stirrup hoe does not perform well in areas with large concentrations of weeds or against orchard grass. The Tool Library currently has four stirrup hoes in the collection.
The collinear hoe has a flat, sharp blade that allows you to slice weeds off at the ground level.
Unlike the stirrup hoe, the collinear hoe doesn’t go as deep but it is wider so it can cover more ground quicker. It also doesn’t do well in areas with heavy weeds nor does it handle orchard grass well. The Tool Library has one collinear hoe in the collection.
The long-handled dandelion puller work great on small to medium dandelions and a whole host of other weeds. With a few minutes practice, you’ll be pulling out thistles, catsears, shotweed, purslane and a whole bunch of other weeds without having to bend over. This tool does not do as well with plants larger than a foot across. Those are better removed by hand or with a pitchfork. The dandelion puller also fails at pulling up members of the dock family, instead leaving a shredded, slimy mess all over the place. As this is my normal result when pulling dock by hand, I’m going to blame this on the plant and not the tool. The Tool Library has two long-handled dandelion pullers in the collection, although only one seems to be working at the moment.
The dandelion shovel or hand puller is a simple hand tool used to pull weeds with long taproots, as it is capable of pulling up the whole root. With a bit of practice, you will be pulling out even large dandelions and catsears. However, due to its nature as a hand tool, it requires bending over or working on your knees. In addition, I would recommend not using it while pulling up weeds with pokey parts, like thistles. The Tool Library has two dandelion shovels in the collection.
Finally, the Tool Library has one weed torch or flame weeder in its collection. A flame weeder is a tool that uses a propane-fueled flame to burn weeds. Weed torches are great for areas that only contain weeds, as well as those difficult to weed areas like the cracks in your driveway. It does not work well on windy days, on large weeds or in areas with a wood/bark mulch or lots of dead, dry plants for safety reasons. Weed torches also require some safety precautions, that the other tools don’t require, as it is a live flame capable of starting fires.
With spring just around the corner, get a head start on all those weeds before they go to seed with some of great tools in our collection. The West Seattle Tool Library has a collection of over 1,500 tools currently available, is free to use and run primarily on user donations. Our entire inventory is available online. For more information on becoming a member, please visit our website. If you are interested in volunteering at the Tool Library, please contact us at: email@example.com
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