Guide to Long-Handled Weeding & Cultivation Tools

Guide to Small-Scale Weeding & Cultivation Tools

by Adam Lemieux, Tools & Supplies Product Manager, R&D, Johnny's Selected Seeds

Efficient cultivation is an important part of keeping weeds in check. Over the past few years, Johnny's offering of weeding and cultivation tools for small-scale growers 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 first define the three main types of cultivation, then introduce the latest options and follow up by revisiting some long-time grower favorites in the long-handled tool category.

TYPES OF CULTIVATION

The three main areas where the long-handled tools in this guide are most useful are between rows, between individual crops in the row, and along footpaths:

1 • INTER-ROW CULTIVATION

Inter-row cultivation, or cultivating between rows of crops in a bed, is the type most commonly accomplished by cultivation tools. Generally the tool passes by the crop, turning over the soil surface and killing nearby weeds.

2 • IN-ROW CULTIVATION

In-row cultivation is achieved by cultivating in-between crops growing in the same row. This is generally more difficult to accomplish by tools drawn parallel to the row, but some innovative tools have been developed to make this possible.

3 • FOOTPATH CULTIVATION

Footpath cultivation is pretty straightforward. The goal is to kill weeds in the path, but also reduce compaction.

Each of the tools described below are annotated to indicate the type(s) of cultivation it performs best.

NEW WEEDING & CULTIVATION TOOLS FOR GREATER EFFICIENCY

TINE-WEEDING RAKES

1 & 2 • Inter-Row & In-Row Cultivation

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 primary key to their versatility lies in varying the amount of downward pressure you exert on the handle during use.

21" TINE-WEEDING RAKE

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.

6" & 9" TINE-WEEDING RAKES

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 also removeable. By removing the center tines, for example, you can weed both sides of a single-row crop with your rake. We also offer a Replacement Tine Kit.

Read our Tine Weeding Rake Instruction Sheet for the fundamentals on timing, conditions, and technique…

FOUR-ROW CULTIVATOR

2 • In-Row Cultivation

Originally designed to patch lawns, the spoked wheels of the Four-Row Cultivator are set at the perfect spacing (2¼") to quickly and efficiently cultivate and weed between rows made by both our Four-Row Pinpoint Seeder and our Six-Row Seeder.

By cultivating the crops while they are young, you can keep salad mixes and greens mixes relatively weed free, improving their marketability and saving labor at harvest time.

WHEEL WEEDERS

Made in France, these tools are most effective when used at a fast walking pace. The design effectively combines two actions:

  • The undercutting action of a stirrup hoe, with an adjustable blade angle and height, to targets larger, established weeds.
  • A light soil disturbance, generated by the wheel as it sifts out smaller weeds, from filament-stage up to approximately 4" in length.

Together, these actions pull weedlings out of the soil and leave them to dry out and die at the surface.

5"-WIDE & 7"-WIDE WHEEL WEEDERS

2 • In-Row Cultivation

The two narrower Wheel Weeder models are most useful for cultivating in-between multiple crop rows in a bed.

11"-WIDE WHEEL WEEDER

3 • Footpath Cultivation

The widest Wheel Weeder model is best suited to weeding along footpaths.

SOLUS V2 Electric Wheel Hoe

3 • Footpath Cultivation

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, requiring the user to stop only occasionally to back up and clear those 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.

1 • Inter-Row Cultivation

Modifying the Solus V2 with an optional 6" Stirrup Cultivating Hoop Attachment enables the user to weed between rows in a bed.

And, to give the Solux V2 even greater versatility, a Glaser Adapter Plate is also available to those who like putting their Glaser Wheel Hoe Attachments to full use.

The TILLIE Electric Tiller

1, 2 & 3 • Inter-Row, In-Row & Footpath Cultivation

This cleverly designed tiller is nothing short of revolutionary. A powerful hub motor drives the tilling blades, which can be used not just to till, but also to cultivate pathways, hill crops, and even efficiently form raised beds.

The Tillie is available in two models: the Tillie A, which has a fixed tiller head; and the Tillie V2, with an articulating tiller head. Either one serves well as an appropriate stepping-stone for the small-scale farmer who is just starting out and working up to a walking tractor.

While the Tillie is great for field work, it is even more convenient for high tunnels, because it is easy to get in and out of close quarters. What's more, because it is battery-powered, there are zero fumes and it's very quiet. Plus (as long as you keep its battery charged), you don't have to worry about whether it's going to start.

Read our Tillie Instruction Manual for more details…

JOHNNY'S LONG-TIME LONG-HANDLED FAVORITES

Johnny's carries a number of long-handled weeding tools that have withstood the rigors of time, each with its own unique application. Using the right tool for the right job not only makes the work faster and more efficient, but the ergonomic advantages offered by a well-designed tool can even make the work more enjoyable. Skeptical? Let's take a look…

STIRRUP HOES

1, 2 & 3 • Inter-Row, In-Row & Footpath Cultivation

Our most popular hoe to date. Why? Efficiency, versatility, durability.

The Stirrup Hoe is an all-around hoe that can cover ground in a hurry. A root-slicing hoe designed to cut on both the forward and reverse strokes, it is especially adept at inter-row weeding and keeping the footpath under control. The blade is Swiss-made of spring steel, rugged enough to take on more mature weeds yet rounded, to allow the user to weed up close to the crop without damaging it.

We offer three different models: 3¼" wide, 5" wide, and 7" wide, all sporting a beefy ashwood handle to support the extra stress involved with the push stroke. Replacement Blades are available as well, when the time comes.

COLINEAR HOES

1, 2 & 3 • Inter-Row, In-Row & Footpath Cultivation

The Colinear Hoe is a truly unique, extremely popular tool designed by Eliot Coleman, with a sharp, rectangular blade that lies flat against (colinear with) the ground. It is a type of "draw hoe" that is pulled toward the user to slice weeds off just below the soil surface, leaving them to wither and die.

The Colinear Hoe is versatile but especially effective in and around low-lying foliage crops, such as head lettuce.

It was designed to be ergonomic from its very inception. The intention was to create a hoe that could be used in a vertical stance, to minimize lower back strain. The tool is held in this position with a thumbs-up grip, much as you would a kitchen broom. It can be drawn in a back-and-forth motion for conditions of lighter weed pressure, or more aggressively as a draw hoe to slice out more mature weeds.

Read our Colinear Hoe Instruction Sheet for more details…

The WIRE WEEDER

1 & 2 • Inter-Row & In-Row Cultivation

Here is another highly ergonomic weeder designed by Eliot Coleman, this one with surgical precision in its application. Like the Colinear 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 as not to cut through the weeds but to overturn them, exposing their roots to the sun.

We also offer a Short-Handled Wire Weeder.

The TRAPEZOID HOE

1, 2 & 3 • Inter-Row, In-Row & Footpath Cultivation

This is a design that is especially useful for mid-sized weeds — a traditional chopping hoe with a unique, trapezoidal shape. The beveled spring steel blade is angled just enough to get under the edges of plants. Sharp corners tackle stubborn roots.

We offer a 5"-wide and a 6½"-wide version, as well as Replacement Blades for both Trapezoid Hoes, should they need swapping out after seasons of vigorous use have take their toll.

The COBRAHEAD®

1 & 2 • Inter-Row & In-Row Cultivation

The curved blade of the CobraHead acts like a steel fingernail. It weeds, cultivates, digs, and furrows with ease, in almost any soil type.

The blade is forged of high-quality steel to last many seasons, but is set in place with Allen screws, so it can easily be swapped out for a Replacement Blade should it ever become necessary.

The 3-TOOTH CULTIVATOR

2 & 3 • Inter-Row & Footpath Cultivation

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 and 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.