Nov 212007

U-Bar Digger, Lee Valley’s broadforkThe broadfork holds a lot of promise. You can break up soil without turning it, and, according to Eliot Coleman, you can prepare vast areas of garden in little time, with little effort (let gravity do the work). My broadfork is not the Coleman design (available at Johnny’s Seed), instead, the U-Bar Digger from Lee Valley. I tried to try it, but the ground has always been too hard to even get the tines in beyond a couple of inches. And this is in garden beds. I suspect the design. The tines, rather than being pointed, have a chisel edge (the ends of the rods are cut off at an angle, they don’t come to a point) and they don’t easily pierce clayey ground. And at 19 lbs, it’s quite a heavy hand tool to haul around. Maybe it works great on lighter soil, but the clay-loam we have here is where it would really make a difference. I’ll try again next spring.

Nov 202007
Lee Valley Compost & Mulch Fork

Lee Valley Compost & Mulch Fork

The 10-tine Lee Valley Compost & Mulch Fork is a versatile tool that’s well-suited to a bunch of different tasks. It’s intended for shoveling compost and mulch, and works fine for that (although for moving around bulkier mulch, like straw, a much wider-tined hay or manure fork works better). I’ve used mine for five seasons, and find it shines at picking up smaller stuff, like stones and crop residue. For fallen tomatoes after the plants have been pulled, it’s perfect, lifting what you want while letting the soil sift through. It’s wide enough to get larger jobs done quickly, and very durable (I haven’t broken the handle or seriously bent tines yet, and it’s done some heavy shoveling). The tines are 1″ spacing. I guess it’s designed by Lee Valley (Canada/US). I just saw a 9-tine SHW Debris/Manure Fork that also looks good for similar tasks (SHW, in Germany, has apparently been making agricultural hand tools since 1267…).

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Nov 202007

Soil block maker

A soil block maker. This is a stand-up model for 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ blocks. With the proper potting mix, these guys let you start transplants without pots. Make the blocks and place them in trays. There are block makers for 3/4″, 1-1/2″, 2″ and 4″ square blocks as well. You can also form the larger blocks with an indent that lets you pot up the 3/4″ starters to a bigger block (although this step may not always work that well). Johnny’s Seed (US) carries a full line.

Nov 182007

Saalet Seed Master

An inexpensive seeder, probably best for very small gardens, given the size of the seed container. It opens the furrow, drops the seed, covers it up. Comes with six seed plates. Doesn’t seem nearly as versatile as the Earthway, but perhaps has a specialty use in the larger veggie garden. It’s made in Europe.

Company website: Saalet
Buy online: Vesey’s