That’s the verdict after I’ve built one and quickly furrow tested it. It handles well and traction is tear the track up terrific. groan
I admit the track was small and not really suited to a test, but it does show potential and I’ll now plan my (long) beds accordingly.
Okay, why a wheel hoe?…
Hmmm, Why wouldn’t you have a wheel hoe?…
I’ve come across these a couple of times, the first time was when I bought a HO-MI and then found the Wheel Hoes while looking around the site. The price is a bit of an eye opener, but as they say for areas up to 1 hectare so we’re talking about a suitable return on investment for that area. For the home gardener they are overkill, for the allotment holder (shared amongst a few) they may be justifiable.
My most recent encounter was at the Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe site of the The Deliberate Agrarian. On that site Herrick details his version of the wheel hoe where plans and parts are available for a fee, or a set of images and photos for free (and some good reading glasses) The free ones were enough to get the gist of what was needed, and for the itch to be finally scratched.
The images that are supplied are only just readable, but dimensions are irrelevant once the concept is grasped. The key word is oscillating and after viewing a few youtube videos I finally got a handle (I think!) on what was happening.
The oscillating part does nothing more than allow the blade to tilt downwards into the soil in the forward direction and then reposition itself so that it can cut, in the same fashion, in the backwards direction – in other words it can oscilate between the two positions – not that it does oscillate while cutting. The tool requires a push-pull action for heavy weed cover and this is when the repositioing of the blade comes into its own.
The blade passes under the weed and cuts the roots and lifts the plant and soil over the blade, this action ensures that the weed is severed below ground level. This action also disturbs the roots of the very small weedlings.
Handle angle and height
The other feature that appears to be important is the grip and ergonomics. For best use of that valuable resource – puff – the angle of thrust should be along a straight line that passes through the operators elbows, wrists and the contact point between wheel and ground. Once that line is derived, the hoe mechanism hangs off that and is then easily raised or lowered (depth of cut) by moving the hands (the handles or line) the minimal amount. Put another way, the correct depth just happens without any effort.
The other reason this project kicked off (in my case) is because a metal cutting bandsaw blade at work saw the last of its useful life – no teeth were left (you can’t say we didn’t get value out of it). These are made from a high quality carbon steel (if not HSS) that is both hard and flexible. They can only be drilled with a carbide drill bit (a concrete drill with a touch up resharpen) and bent using orange heat (oxygen, acetylene set) but one blade makes a life time supply and best of all – it’s free, why waste useful material!
It could be said the old blade was a solution looking for a problem?
The wheel came off a golf buggy found on the local rat drive (council clean up). The steel was from scrap offcuts (thus the different design to Planet Whizbangs) and the handle came from an old mower (it’s temporary though, I may get around to making a better one – then again?)
So, that’s me, what if you want one?
Hopefully there is enough information and clues above to help you along your own path, accessing and utilizing your own resources.
If not then, other than paying a small fortune for one from a commercial supplier, a visit to the aforementioned Planet whizbang site will show some alternatives. That page lists parts that he supplies and where or how to get the remainder (wheel, handles?).
Do I recommend the Planet Whizbang hoe?
I can’t because I don’t own one. The plans that Herrick supplies detail his build, and while I didn’t follow those to the letter (as obvious from the overall design of mine), the important parts – the oscillating blade and handle layout – is well covered and mine closely follows it (there aren’t too many ways to build it after all.)
If I was in the USA and couldn’t source the gear myself, I wouldn’t have any qualms about splashing out for his kit. It’s simple, easily put together and being man-made it’s man-fix(able). There are no exotic manufacturing techniques in play with his setup, that’s a good thing.
I wouldn’t pay $500 for a commercial one though – but that’s me and my genes in play!
Do you need one?
No idea. They are of no use if you have short beds, a small area, or don’t plant in ordered rows.
If you have a large area then they could well come into their own.
They are easy to use, less so if the plot is covered in established weeds (but then try using a hand hoe and then compare!). If the weeds are kept well under control then this tool would make it an absolute breeze to go over the ground, then again, so is a hand hoe at that stage :)
They also have possibilities if used with other bolt on implements. (see below)
Question for you, the reader?
The working bit!
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