I really meant to join in on the Garden Bloggers’ Hoe Down sponsored by Carol over at May Dreams Gardens last Saturday. Really I did. But [insert list of poor excuses here, because I know all the rest of you are busy gardening too, and yet many of you made the time to participate…]. To be honest, my collection of hoes is rather pitiful, and I very seldom use them anyway, so they’re pretty crummy-looking, and they’re buried somewhere in the back corner of the shed. Instead of taking the time to extricate them, I figured I’d write about a hand tool that I rarely have to hunt for, because I guard it carefully: my hori hori knife.
Also known as a soil knife, this fantastic tool has a thin but strong steel blade and pointed tip. One side of the blade has a serrated edge, and one side is honed to a straight cutting edge. It’s invaluable for weeding and handy for harvesting, too. The cutting edges also make it my tool of choice for dividing perennials, because it can easily saw through tough asters and other plants with dense or woody crowns. The blade on mine is also slightly concave, so it doubles as a narrow trowel, and it has measurement markings so I can use it for spacing seedlings.
My hori hori knife has a wooden handle, which I find very comfortable to hold. It does have one drawback, though: The brown color makes it a little too easy for it to blend into the soil if you happen to drop it and forget to look for it for a day or two. I’d bought one for Mom last Mother’s Day because she liked mine so much, and she cherished it until this spring, when it either got lost or was otherwise appropriated. So this year she got an early Mother’s Day gift: a “new and improved soil knife”(shown below) with a bright orange composite handle. I found the grip a bit larger than on my original, and the whole thing seemed a tad heavier, but she’s been using it daily for the last week and says she likes it even better than the original.
If you’re interested in trying one of these terrific tools for yourself, you can find them both through A.M. Leonard’s Gardener’s Edge: the original hori hori knife is here and the soil knife is here. (A hint, though: If you buy directly from the A.M. Leonard site at www.amleo.com, you can get the orange-handled soil knife on sale for $16.99 until June 30, 2008.)