A Tool For the Trade

Reader Contribution by Bethann Weick
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The fork – the garden fork, that is – is a most excellent and invaluable tool.  Four-pronged, with minimal curvature, and a short handle, the garden fork serves to aerate the soil into which it is worked, undo the effects of soil compaction, and loosen the grip of weeds beneath the ground’s surface. 

The garden fork that Ryan and I have is old.  We’re not quite sure how old is old … but it once rested inside Ryan’s grandmother’s toolshed before it took it’s place within ours.  It’s wooden handle is old and weathered, the metal components a faded green.  This fork has played a leading role as our gardens slowly claim territory from the encroaching woods.  It has enabled us to easily weed our more established garden zones as well as pioneer new garden beds.  From the “good dirt” to the “bad dirt,” from the existing beds to the creation of new ones, this savvy garden fork has navigated with determination and resolve a plethora of virgin’s bower, brambles, wild strawberries, sorrel, dandelions, thistles, and ferns, not to mention all manner of grasses and undefined weeds. 

However, just the other day, the Snap happened: that unequivocal crack of long-dried wood.  Then, the Exclamation.  My initial dismay was vocal, and ricocheted adrenaline right through my stomach.  In a split second, my mind was already wondering: how do folks garden without a garden fork?

This was a formidable query.  I had other tools on hand, and did my best to adjust.  A hoe, different styles of forks, a hori-hori trowel, a shovel…but nothing suitably erased the soil compaction without thoroughly disturbing the soil strata.  And so, I resumed the task at hand with a rather reduced garden fork in my fist.  Not quite as effective, but it did work comfortably…while kneeling.  In this manner, the flower bed before me was prepared with more satisfactory results than my other options could offer. 

This was not the end, however, of the old forkfor this is the beauty of tools.  Wooden handles can be made or bought, and the new affixed to the old.  Thus the work of our garden fork will continue, for the weeds have not halted in the interim.  Always, there is much to do. 

For ecological garden design and maintenance, orchard care, or weeds pulled from your garden or landscaped house front, please contact Beth via b.a.weick@gmail.com.

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