Garden lore

“Hoeing: A manual method of severing roots from stems of newly planted flowers and vegetables.”

Henry Beard, American humorist.

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I am a big Wonder Weeder fan. These are the best implements I know for hand weeding, especially in tight spaces. Because the action is to hook out the weeds, it is possible to do it with minimum of disturbance to surrounding plants. It still amazes me that something so simple, indestructible and effective has remained cheap. I own several because they regularly end up going through the compost heap. I have no commercial interest in these but I see you can buy them on line – three for $15 (including delivery) at and some garden centres sell them.

Others swear by the Niwashi which is probably somewhat more expensive and less happy about going through the compost. This is a small hand-held hoe. It severs the plants from its roots which will be enough to kill most, but not all, weeds. It is also better than a trowel for cultivating the soil in smaller areas. You need at least a 12cm space between your plants or you will sever them in the process.

For flat weeds in the lawn, or very deep rooted plants like dock, there is nothing to equal the lawn weeder which can hoick plants out, roots and all, in one simple move. If you don’t want a small armoury of specialist weeding implements, an old table knife does the trick once you have mastered the different hand actions required.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.