The Straddler Makes Gardening Easier

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
The Straddler utilizes the user's body weight and strength.

With full summer almost upon us, a lot of gardeners are
likely to find themselves viewing the old cropping grounds
with dwindling enthusiasm. The wonderful fantasies of last
winter’s seed selection are past, and the magical ceremony
of planting is only a memory . . . but the backbreaking
task of regular maintenance looms bigger and
bigger by the day, and there are as yet precious few
harvestable vegetables to reward that labor. In
fact, it sometimes seems that that the gardener’s every
free June and July minute is spent hunched over a hoe or a
wheel plow — eyes aching with sweat — in the effort
just to keep up with invading weeds.
Well, Mr. B.C. Armstrong doesn’t claim that he can free you
from the task of weeding, but he does say that his
invention, the “Straddler” garden cultivator, will help
many people get that chore out of the way in less time and
with less effort than would otherwise be possible. B.C.
claims he’s been aware of the inadequacies of the common
means of muscle-powered cultivation since his childhood when, presumably, he spent his midsummer
afternoons and weekends wrestling such tools around the
family garden. Those early experiences inspired him to
search for a better cultivator design and after
looking over patents dating back to 1914, he decided that a
device which would allow the gardener to walk backwards
could “make the best use of the weight and power of the
body.”
The inventor patented his first cultivator in 1945. The design went through a
number of refinements and revisions over the years, but it
wasn’t until after 1972 — when B.C. retired — that
he was able to devote the time necessary to develop his
concept fully.

The result of that work is the somewhat odd-looking
implement. It consists of a two-part
shaft, a “push pad” and a handle-and-suspender assembly all of which can be adjusted to suit the physique of
the user.

Several of MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ staffers put the Straddler through its
paces during the summer of 1981, and all were quite pleased
with the cultivator’s design, ease of control and light
weight. Of course, it would be quite a task to actually
plow a new bed with the Straddler (although it
could certainly be done, particularly in good soil). But when you’re facing the charge of the crab grass or the
attack of the amaranth, you might just find that it is,
indeed, time to meet that challenge with a step backwards!

EDITOR’S NOTE: The original Straddler is out of production.