March 21st, 2008
I’m No Hoe

Rumford Gardener mini-rake

…though I’m known to be a bit rakish.

Heidegger says that one way being asserts itself is when we notice the absence of something. Presence is being ready to hand, handy. Absence is being missing. When my hand rake went missing about a month ago, I felt its absence keenly. I didn’t know how much I relied on, how handy it was, it until I lost it. I’ve been using various tools in its stead; I even bought a hand cultivator but nothing has worked as well for me as my old hand rake.

I’ve shopped around town for a replacement and finally found one today at Breed and Co ($9). It is from The Rumford Gardener, their Oxford Series Mini-Rake. (How could I go wrong with a tool named after AJM’s university?)

Now some of you, (Carol!) may find it inconceivable that I do not use a hoe. I’m more of a hands-and-knees gardener. I don’t feel comfortable gardening at a distance, standing up. I’m really in it for the dirt.

I find this mini-rake perfect for getting in between the annuals in the meadow and breaking up the crust in the mulch after a hard rain, for uprooting small weeds and pulling out leaves (especially those stuck in the agaves). I don’t know if it is my favorite tool, for I could not do without my Fiskars pruners or my trowel either. But I really missed it and I’m happy I found a replacement.

by M Sinclair Stevens

10 Responses to post “I’m No Hoe”

  1. From Nancy in Houston:

    I like the hand rake. I’ve been using one with tines that are just not stiff enough. I may follow that link and see if I can get one of my own.

    Or you can look at mine when you come to Austin for Spring Fling. Or make a side trip to Breed & Co.. They have one location two blocks west of one of our Spring Fling sponsors, Barton Springs Nursery.– mss

  2. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    That’s a great looking little rake. I have one, but don’t think to use it. However, you did inspire me to extend an invitation to all rakes to join in the Garden Bloggers Hoe Down on May 3rd. I don’t want any gardener to feel left out just because they don’t garden with a hoe!

    Your Jeopardy clip with Ken Jennings is priceless. I watched it three times. — mss

  3. From Diana - Austin:

    I love that comment you made, “I’m in it for the dirt!” That really says it all, doesn’t it?!!! Cute little rake. I don’t hoe either. Not sure why…just not my style either. Happy weeding!

    I do feel some strange need to “ground myself” by touching the dirt. The other pleasures of the garden are just a bonus. — mss

  4. From Angelina:

    One of the first things I found out about you is that you love digging in the dirt just as I do and if there’s any one thing that can make me feel comfortable with a person, it’s knowing that they love dirt.

    That looks like a very handy tool. I’m kind of envious. I might need to try one out for myself.

    They know me by my fingernails…black! — mss

  5. From kate:

    Joni Mitchell’s song just came to mind … don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone … although she was talking about paving paradise and not about rakish behaviour. Your new rake is dashing.

    It is amazing how attached we get to our garden tools … I have a hand trowel with a discoloured and ripped up rubber handle. I refuse to stop using it because it just works way better than all the others I’ve used. I’d probably go into mourning if mine disappeared.

    I’m a play-in-the-dirt kind of gardener as well.

    Some tools just fit right in the hand. Like you, my favorites are well-worn and nothing much to look at, but like a comfortable pair of shoes, they are broken in and fit me. — mss

  6. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    I’m more of a shovel gal myself. But like you, I’m happy to get on hands and knees and use my hands to move dirt around. Hmmm. This could explain my need for a manicure.

    I’m aware that whenever I’m out that I curl my hands to try to hide my fingernails. — mss

  7. From jenn:

    My long-handled cultivator went missing one spring. It was great, about 18 inches long, perfect for pulling fall leaves and misc. stuff out from around the plants.

    Found it a year later, right where I ‘left’ it – in the spring cleanup trimmings on the cold compost pile. Must’ve dumped it with the rest of the wheelbarrow full.

    Still have it, somewhat rustier than it was before… This was one of the tools that made the move to Arizona with me.

    I didn’t rush out to replace the hand rake immediately because I kept hoping it would turn up somewhere. I’m not very disciplined in caring for my tools. I’m still hoping I’ll find it in the compost pile when I turn it but I think it probably ended up in a lawn and leaf bag. — mss

  8. From Jenny - Las Vegas:

    What a cool tool! I could use one of those.

    They are good for delicately raking under things like getting the leaves out from under the yucca and agave. — mss

  9. From Aiyana:

    There really is something magical about dirt and working with it. I love the close-up photo of the Aloe vera bloom!

  10. From Tamara, Plano, TX:

    I have one of these hand rakes too and absolutely love it. It really is great for (gently) getting pesky dead leaves out from under stuff.