Long-handled Favorites, Old & New
by Adam Lemieux, R&D, Tools & Supplies Product Manager
Efficient cultivation is an important part of keeping weeds in check. Over the past few years, Johnny's offering of weeding and cultivation tools has evolved greatly. We're excited about our recent additions to the line — mainly because of their efficiency. The following is an overview of our long-handled cultivation and weeding tools, new and old. We'll start with the latest options, followed by some longstanding grower favorites in the long-handled tool category.
There are three main types of cultivation these long-handled tools are designed to accomplish.
The tools described below are annotated with numbers to indicate which type of cultivation it is designed for.
Tine Weeding Rakes
(Types 1 & 2)
These rakes quickly and efficiently remove emerging weeds when they are easiest to kill — at thread stage, when drawn over established crops. The tiny weeds are pulled out and the crop is left unharmed and weed-free.
The key to their versatility lies in varying the amount of downward pressure you exert on the handle during use.
The 21"-wide model is most often used for tine weeding multiple rows of a high-density seeding, especially those that are tightly spaced such as carrots and greens mixes.
The narrower models are best for working between more mature crops that are spaced between 4" and 9" apart. Used this way they can replace any hoe you might use and are much faster and more efficient — as long as the weeds are at thread stage. They can also be used for tine-weeding over single-row crops, or weeding between rows.
All three models are useful for cultivating crusty soil in overwintering crops. The tines are removeable, and by removing the center tines on your rake you can weed both sides of a single-row crop.
We also offer a Replacement Tine Kit .
Originally designed to patch lawns, the Four-Row Cultivator 's spoked wheels are set at the perfect spacing (2.25") to cultivate and weed between rows made by our Four-Row Pinpoint Seeder and Six-Row Seeder .
By cultivating the crops while they are young, you can keep salad and greens mixes relatively weed free, improving marketability and saving labor at harvest time. This tool is very fast and efficient.
Made in France, these highly efficient tools are most effective when used at a fast walking pace. The design combines two actions:
- The undercutting action of a stirrup hoe, with an adjustable blade angle and height, targets larger, established weeds.
- A light soil disturbance is generated by the wheel as it sifts out smaller weeds from filament-stage up to approximately 4".
The device projects the weedlings to the soil surface, where they dessicate.
The two narrower Wheel Weeder models are most useful for cultivating in-between multiple crop rows in a bed.
The wider model is best suited for footpaths.
Solus V2 Electric Wheel Hoe
The Solus V2 is very fast, and very efficient. Positioned at the center of its wheel, a powerful hub motor provides all the force needed for the Solus to slice off even large, dense weeds in pathways. The back-and-forth motion typically required when using a wheel hoe is unnecessary. Instead, the Solus is directed straight ahead, stopping only occasionally to back up and clear larger weeds.
A single 24-Volt 10-Amp-hour lithium ion battery keeps it running for approximately 3 hours in most soil types. Comes with 120-Volt AC charger, toolbar kit , and 12" Stirrup Cultivating Hoop Attachment .
Tillie V2 Electric Tiller
(Types 1, 2 & 3)
This cleverly designed tiller is nothing short of revolutionary. The Tillie is the perfect stepping-stone tool for the small-scale farmer that is just starting out and working up to a walking tractor. A powerful hub motor drives this versatile tool, which can be used not just to till, but to cultivate pathways, hill crops, and even efficiently form raised beds. Great for field work — and especially convenient for high tunnels because it's easy to get in and out with it and, with battery power, there are no fumes and it's very quiet. Plus, with a charged battery, you never have to worry about whether it's going to start.
Johnny's continues to offer a number of long-handled weeding tools that have withstood the rigors of time, each with their own unique application. Using the right tool for the right job not only makes the work faster and more efficient, but the ergonomic advantages they sometimes offer can even make the work somewhat enjoyable. Skeptical? Let's take a look...
The Stirrup Hoe
(Types 1, 2 & 3)
Our most popular hoe to date. Why? Efficiency and versatility. This is a root-slicing hoe designed to cut on both the forward and reverse strokes. It is rugged enough to take on more mature weeds yet has a rounded blade, allowing the user to weed very close to the crop without damage.
The stirrup hoe is a great all-around hoe that can literally cover some ground in a hurry. It is especially adept at inter-row weeding and keeping the footpath under control. We offer three different sizes of Stirrup Hoes, 3¼", 5", and 7" wide , all sporting a beefier handle to support the extra stress involved with the push stroke.
The Collinear Hoe
(Types 1, 2 & 3)
The Collinear Hoe is truly unique, and extremely popular. Eliot Coleman designed it with a sharp, rectangular blade that lies flat against (collinear with) the ground. It is a type of "draw hoe" because it is pulled toward the user. Doing so slices weeds off, just below the soil surface, leaving them to wither and die in the sun. It is versatile and especially effective in and around low-lying foliage crops like head lettuce.
It is also designed with ergonomics from its very inception. The idea was to create a hoe that could be used in a vertical stance, to reduce lower back strain. The Collinear Hoe is therefore used with a thumbs-up grip, much as you would a kitchen broom. It can be used in a back-and-forth motion in conditions of lighter weed pressure, or more aggressively as a draw hoe on more mature weeds.
The Wire Weeder
(Types 1 & 2)
Here is another highly ergonomic weeder designed by Eliot Coleman, this one with surgical precision in its application. Like the collinear hoes, the Wire Weeder is designed to be used with a straight back and both thumbs up. It is great for emerging weeds, especially in and around younger crops or closely-spaced crops, where clumsiness just will not do. It is somewhat blunt, so it is designed not to cut through the weeds, but to overturn them, exposing their roots to the sun. There is also a short-handled version of this tool.
The Trapezoid Hoe
(Types 1, 2 & 3)
These are useful tools for mid-sized weeds — a traditional chopping hoe with a unique, trapezoidal shape. The beveled blade is angled just enough to get under the edges of plants. Sharp corners tackle stubborn roots. The replaceable spring steel blade allows easy renewal after multiple seasons of vigorous use. We offer two models, with 5" or 6½" blade width.
The CobraHead ®
(Types 1 & 2)
The curved blade of the CobraHead acts like a steel fingernail. It weeds, cultivates, digs, and furrows with ease. It works well in almost any soil. The blade is set in place with Allen screws, allowing easy replacement.
The 3-Tooth Cultivator
This tool was designed by Eliot Coleman to be used with a push-pull action for incorporating compost and fertilizer, and loosening soil. What's that got to do with weeding? Well, it can also be used for cultivating between rows in footpaths, and is especially effective on emerging weed seedlings in those areas as the cultivating action of its teeth buries those young weeds, smothering them.
These are the cultivation tools we've worked with and found to be most ergonomic and efficient in our own weed management efforts.
Along with efficient cultivation, according to Dr. Eric Gallandt, Professor of Weed Ecology at the University Maine, stale seedbeds, mulching, and consideration of season-long weed control to prevent weeds from going to seed are all practices to employ for effective weed management.
To learn more about weed management strategies, see: