How to Use a Hoe in Your Garden

Basically hoeing is a useful way to chop and cut the tops off seedling weeds; loosen compacted soil; and create a dust mulch to conserve moisture.

Several types of hoe are available, each one suited to a particular purpose. The Dutch or push hoe is used with a skimming push and pull action, with the operator moving backwards. Its flat blade is used almost parallel with the ground. Best reserved for easily worked soils.

The draw hoe has a blade at right angles to the handle and is used with a chopping action to cut down weeds and loosen the soil. The operator moves forward over the loosened soil. This hoe is also used for taking out drills in readiness for sowing seeds, as well as for earthing up vegetables. An effective tool for hard ground.

An onion hoe is invaluable for the rock garden and where plants are close together. It is a smaller, short handled version of the draw hoe and is used in a similar manner.

In practice

Lightly hoe permanently planted borders in spring, prior to feeding and mulching and as an alternative to cultivating.

Where mulching materials are in short supply, take a Dutch hoe and hoe bare soil in permanently planted borders regularly throughout summer. Also keep the hoe going amongst annual bedding plants and in the vegetable garden, constantly stirring the top inch or so of soil. Hoeing is particularly important on heavy soils prone to compaction, and after prolonged heavy rain when most soils suffer from a measure of surface panning.

Earthing up

Use a draw hoe to earth up a variety of vegetable crops during the course of the season. Fork to loosen the soil, then draw the freshly loosened soil up into a mound around the plants in question. Take care not to damage roots or stems. Earthing up serves a number of purposes. Winter greens are supported. With leeks, the exclusion of light ensures the stems are suitably blanched. With potatoes, the developing tubers are prevented from turning green and they are given extra frost protection, while the risk of blight is also reduced.

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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