Gardening Hand Tools for Harvest

Garden harvest tool designs for grapes, beans and corn.

| July/August 1984

Beginning just about this time of year, many MOTHER EARTH NEWS staffers and readers start giving thought to a common concern: what to do with the garden's bounty. Now, harvesting the fruits (and vegetables) of summer's labor isn't the problem ... but actually preparing those abundant yields for the larder can be taxing to even the most diligent home gardener.

With this task in mind, a couple of people were more than a little pleased when they discovered that Mr. Hollen Orr, an Ecovillage neighbor and a man of the land in his own right, had regularly been using—and was willing to share the designs for—a number of soft-tech gardening hand tools that just about anybody could put together.

For the most part, each of the four implements involves uncomplicated wood construction techniques, and none requires fancy tools. Also be aware that we spruced up Mr. Orr's utilitarian originals to make them a bit more pleasing to the eye, but this "beautification" doesn't necessarily make the gardening hand tools work any better. If you want to use nails instead of screws in places, go right ahead (and an application of carpenter's glue would increase the strength of the wood joints).

So if beans, corn, or grapes are on your home garden hit parade, you'll certainly be able to find a use for Hollen's helpers at harvest time (unless, of course, you enjoy preparing your reapings the old-fashioned way).

Grape Crusher  

Pressing grapes is no easy task without the benefit of equipment, as anyone who's done it by hand can tell you. Fortunately, that initial step in preparing the vine fruit for jam, jelly, or fermentation involves merely breaking the berries' skins to produce a rich pulp of sheath and juice, and this simple mechanism can handle that job well.

It's just a three-sided tub with a one-piece bottom and an upper support. A 7 3/4" drum, mounted to a 3/4" dowel axle, rotates in two slots cut into the tub's sides, and removable wedge-shaped blocks hold the shaft in place. A homemade hardwood crank clamped to one end of the axle is used to turn the drum.

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