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|Gardening with a
|A Gardener's Diary...
|by Julie Harrell
|We all have our favorite
gardening tools. My favorite is the Hoe-Dag, a handmade in America mini
hoe with a hardwood handle. One of my friends and Co-op shoppers, Jess,
told me she got one for her mom. I knew that if Deb liked it I'd love
it because she is a master gardener. That thing is awesome and has
pretty much taken the place of all my other gardening tools. I like my
Hoe-Dag so much that last summer, our woofer and I scheduled its daily
use because we only had one to share. This year, knowing at some point
my Hoe-Dag would be needed by more than one gardener here at the farm,
I invested $30 to purchase a second Hoe-Dag. It hangs in the barn, all
sharp, shiny and clean, waiting to be shared. You'd think after all
that, gardening with a hammer would not cross my mind. Those of you who
are neat gardeners probably clean up your garden in the fall,
effectively "putting it to bed." I keep telling myself every year that
I'll put mine to bed, too, but so far I haven't even succeeded in
getting my garden tired enough to take a nap. Then winter hits, ski
patrol begins, and the garden just languishes, fomenting new little
weed seeds even while we snowboarders are dreaming of fluffy white
By spring, the chickweed, crabgrass, dandelions and an entire host of
unknown but pernicious weedlings have taken hold of these neglected
beds, along with a huge pile of leaves and blown branches. The poor
asparagus suffers greatly, because weeding asparagus requires one to
torture its delicate roots. My spring garden is, well, an
embarrassment. It is also a challenge, which up until now, the Hoe-Dag
has successfully tackled. This year, I am again out there, cleaning out
the really strong chickweed, sampling it like my friend and fellow
Co-op shopper Liz says I should do because "Chickweed is good for you."
I try and try but I just can't get into it, so out it comes. The
dandelions have big beautiful roots which I know will cleanse the
blood, but since I already made a tincture out of dandelion, burdock
and yellow dock, which I take faithfully every day, I dig those out too.
Like any good farmer, I note where the raised beds need work. After
hours of digging out really tough weeds, including those under the
boards which hold up the raised beds, it's time to do some repairs, so
out comes the hammer and a shovel. Throwing in some new nails, fixing
things here and there where the snowplow guy has taken down boards, I
come upon yet another bed with yet another patch of pernicious
chickweed. Okay, in homage to Liz I take a bite. Nope, I still don't
like it. The chickweed really seems to be bigger, tougher and harder to
dig out for some reason. This particular patch is taking up way too
much space. It has to go and it has to go now. Holding my favorite
Estwing claw hammer, with the Hoe-Dag already safely put up in the barn
to ensure it remains found, I make a command decision. It's time to
take the hammer to the chickweed....
Well, Co-op shoppers, surprisingly, I may have a new favorite gardening
tool. The extra weight of the hammer allows the claw to dig in deeply
with much less effort than the Hoe-Dag requires. I dug out quite a few
chickweeds with the Estwing hammer in a fast frenzy, hoping to suddenly
have a clean looking garden (didn't work, my garden is still a mess).
Ruefully noting my now very dirty favorite hammer, a thought crossed my
mind that perhaps the yellow-handled metal shovel might work even
better than the hammer and the Hoe-Dag to fight these dastardly
chickweeds that have decided to take over my garden. I marched to the
barn, grabbed my shovel and furiously dug and dug and dug and ...
there's still chickweed in the garden.
What's the moral to this story? I'd rather fight than quit. Putting the
garden to bed in the fall is what I should do, which would be quitting
the smart way. Being realistic about my gardening abilities, I have
learned that using whatever tool is "at hand" to fight weeds can be a
rewarding experience. Would I use my Estwing again to do battle with
the mighty chickweed? Absolutely. Every time I look at all the weeds in
the garden, all I have to do is think about that hammer to get a warm
fuzzy glow. The season is only beginning, and many challenges will
come. I shall take my trusty hammer to the garden with me, and this
year, it will be beautiful again.
May your garden proper this season.
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