We’re all familiar with a rake, a wheelbarrow, a shovel (or at least I hope you are). They are some classic gardening tools. But when I say “rake,” maybe I envision a broad, plastic leaf rake and you think of a metal one. Flatheaded shovel or rounded? There are so many agriculture tools out there. Different parts of the world have developed tools specific to their needs. Even tools we’re familiar with have so many variables.
Let’s take a look at some. You may find just what you’ve been looking for, a simple hand-tool that can perform a function you never dreamed possible.
Cultivator – This is a three-pronged tool with a long handle, used for breaking up big clods of earth.
Hula Hoe – It’s a hoe that has an angled, open head, with a lateral bar made for scraping. Its basic function is weeding and clearing vegetation.
Hand trowel – a hand-sized spade meant for digging in smaller areas.
Japanese Hand Sickle – This is a hand-held sickle, a curved blade with serrated edges on the inside of the curve. Very useful for harvesting grain crops or getting rid of some serious above-ground biomass is you don’t want to bring in something gas-powered, like a weed-whacker.
Iko Squid Hoe – a hand-held Japanese multi-tool. One side is a hand-cultivator with three short tines. The other side of the head is a hoe.
Flail – Not that you’ll use this one, but it’s interesting nonetheless. A flail is a large, heavy bar attached to a longer handle with something flexible, a short length of chain, for instance. It was used in threshing grains by beating them on the stalk. Flails were sometimes adapted to warfare, although this practice was not as widespread as common depiction would hold.
Mop-up Hoe – Similar to the hula hoe, except that it that its head resembles a conventional hoe, at a more acute angle. It can also be traingular in shape. Instead of the chopping action of a normal hoe, it scrapes surfaces. It works really well when its blade has a good edge.
Ho-Mi – The ho-mi is a Korean hand-plow. It’s got a short hand and a broad blade end, with a narrow one on the back. Great for tilling up earth and digging up furrows for planting in small areas where a long hoe won’t do.
Kana – This is a hand-hoe with a sharp, angled blade, like a wedge in golf, somewhat like a “sling-blade,” great for cutting down large areas of vegetation in a small area.
Axe – Though not used for growing, it of course is essential for chopping down large biomass and making firewood.
These speciality tools have had their designs adapted through generations to make your life easier when it comes to growing on the land. Think that simple, sustainable innovations are over? Not so thanks to the smart founder of Open Source Ecology, a new non-profit, that is bringing a next generation of multi-faceted agricultural tools that can not only farm the land but also includes the tools necessary to build housing and other infrastructure needs.
Humans will never cease to innovate and surely society is poised to see more sustainable inventions that improve the ways in which people use the earth.