The authors' garden cultivator and children in the family garden.
PHOTO: WILLIAM AND JIMMIE RUTTENCUTTER
Each year, as winter makes its molassess-slow way toward
spring, my wife and I can barely contain our eagerness to
get to work in the garden again — to till, plant, weed,
meditate, and generally enjoy one of the deep and subtle
satisfactions of life. (Thoreau once described gardening as
"making the earth say beans instead of grass.")
And every summer—as we discovered hordes of undesired
plants growing just as steadily as our intended
crops—we wished we had a good hand-powered push
cultivator. But alas, the $30 to $50 purchase price of the
classic garden implements always overpowered our desire to
A year ago, though, I finally noticed the resemblance
between that common weeding tool and the front wheel/main
chassis of an ordinary one-speed bicycle. Before long, I'd
figured out how to convert a discarded two-wheel
transporter into a functioning garden cultivator.
First, I cut off the tubing in front of both the bike's
seat and its main sprocket, leaving the triangle that
forms the back part of the frame intact. I then replaced
the cycle's rear wheel with its front one and removed the
pedals, crank, chain, front sprocket, and internal parts
from the bike's drive mechanism. Next, I turned the
trimmed-down unit upside down and replaced the bike's seat
with a bolted-on set of cultivator tines. (I had these
lying around, but they can be bought at most hardware
At this point, my cultivator's body had taken shape. The tool just needed a steering mechanism; I used a section
of threaded pipe for the cultivator's shaft. To attach this
conduit to the former bike's bottom bracket, I cut a hole
through the side of this frame cylinder, thrust one end of
the pipe into this opening, and secured it in place with
nuts on both the inside and outside of the bracket.
Then I used the handlebar's original collar clamp to secure
the bike's grips to the other end of the pipe section. Behold!—I had created the Fabulous
Bullwinkle Garden Cultivator (named after the famous
cartoon moose that the device sort of resembles).
So if you too have dreamed of having your own big-wheeled
garden tool, consider giving a abandoned bicycle a new use
in life. After all, the Fabulous Bullwinkle Garden
Cultivator may not look classy, but it really works!