Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Abusing my hands with a Garden Claw

Back when I watched TV, I used to see infomercials for these things all the time. The Garden Claw, that is. We have a few of them sitting around at the farm (underused, if I may say so myself), so I decided to give one a try.

We have an unmanaged hill to the west of the gardens, and the grass, horsetails, and 4-foot-tall thistles rain down an unholy mess on my lovely row of cantaloupe, which happen to be right next to the hill. It's an organic farm, which I appreciate... but the weeds get so out of control, especially in this row. It took two of us about two hours to weed it earlier this week. Short of dropping napalm on the hill, I was determined to get the weeds under control in this row. That's where the Garden Claw came in.

My plan was two-fold. I wanted to get up any of the roots that had managed to escape us during the weeding process, and I wanted to make it more difficult for weeds to get started (or, at least easier to pull up once they did start). My other option, aside from the Garden Claw, was a broad fork (a wide pitchfork-like tool with two handles used for breaking up compacted soil), but that wouldn't allow me to maneuver around the cantaloupe.

The Garden Claw worked surprisingly well, just press it into the ground and give it a twist to break up the soil in a 8-12" radius. It took me about an hour and a half to do the entire 100 ft. row, down one side and back, which is less time than it took to weed the bed. Of course, this is the first time this season that I really had to use my hands to do some hard work, so I got a bit of a blister on my palm. It's small and painless and will likely be gone in the morning, but if your hands aren't used to the work, I suggest you take it easy.

The only thing I really have to compare the Garden Claw to is a broad fork and a rototiller. The Garden Claw definitely does a better job of breaking up the soil than either of them, but it's at the expense time and energy. But, if you've already got plants planted, it's great for working around them, and it doesn't use any gas, which is a plus in my book.

In other news, today was a busy day at the farmers' market. I work at the information booth for the non-profit that organizes the market, and I run credit, debit, and food stamp purchases for the entire market. Today I bought nearly 5 pounds of cherries from one of the vendors, and I'm planning on making maraschino cherries. I'll go buy a cherry pitter tomorrow so I can get started on it. I've never made them before, but it's one of the recipes I got from the extension office website. I'll let you know how they turn out.

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