I have stumbled upon a wonderful tool. I need to share it with you all because it is a life changing tool. It is likely that I am the last guy who ever heard of this tool and all you expert gardeners have been using these marvelous things for years and just not telling me. But its new to me and its a game-changer, so I must share the grub-hoe with you.
It all started with my 8 year old son. I have discovered so many wonderful things because of his curious nature. We were watching educational videos on YouTube as we home educators often do, learning how they catch fish in Cambodia. Odd choice of topics, huh? But have a look at that young man in the photo above. Kids there would make deep holes next to a rice paddy or a lake or river, and they would trap various kinds of fish, among other things. It was not the unusual method of fishing I admired, praiseworthy as it is, but it was the tool used to dig the holes. I watched in amazement as 10 year old kids dug in five minutes what would have taken me half an hour with my standard gardening tools. I had to look up this thing. It appeared to be a hoe, but it had a heavy iron head and the angle was set back toward the digger a bit more than a traditional garden hoe. Its head cranked inward and that is one of ts key features. It also appeared to be a heavy iron tool. The added weight gave the head more penetrating momentum, and the longer handle seemed to give the tool more leverage, and it was sharp!
I researched this tool and discovered it is called a grub hoe. I also found a place to order one online (none of my local garden stores have them). Its called Easy Digging. I chose the 6 inch blade, there is a smaller one too but I have a gigantic bunch of heavy weeds to tame. I have no interest in promoting this company or their products, only sharing good tools and customer service for the benefit of anyone interested. So here’s a product I love and have enjoyed. The price is right too.
The problem I have had with typical western garden tools from the big box stores is that they are usually cheaply made and miserably dull. A bastard file and ten minutes in the garage can fix that up real quick; an angle grinder would take just a minute. But the typical hardware store tools come dull as a bowling ball and are handicapped. The 1/16” thick blade of a typical cheap garden hoe would be far more effective with a beveled sharp edge. That is because part of what a shovel or hoe should do is cut. Hoes and shovels should be sharp – the sharper, the better. Just like a good knife, a dull tool is actually more dangerous than a sharp one because of the forces needed to make it do its job – any slipping force or bouncing tool can leave nasty injuries. But the grub hoe is heavy and sharp, gliding through roots and hard clay with ease. That makes work pleasant. Its much easier. It slices through roots and weeds with less effort because it is both sharp and heavy at the same time. With the angled head, soil can be tilled or turned with very little fuss. I managed to turn over the soil in three very weed-bound, 4’x16’ raised beds, with so little effort that I was elated. I expected to spend hours and hours on each of these formerly neglected beds, but I really spend less than an hour total on each. That time was, admittedly spread casually over the course of a week. But had I relied on the tools I used to use – garden hoe and possibly a tiller attachment to my weed-whacker – I would still be working on those beds.
So take my advice and get a grub hoe There is still a place in the garden for a standard hoe, just make sure it is sharp. But the grub hoe is a tool that should be in every gardener’s arsenal, especially in the spring when beds are to be refreshed. It makes short work of roots and sod and snarled messes. It digs, it chops, its good.