Friday, May 15, 2009

My new favorite tool

I actually kind of like weeding. Really, I do. It's a very relaxing, zen-like activity, and I get a lot of talking to myself out loud deep thinking done while I'm grubbing in the dirt. However, the knees are over half a century old now, and their view on weeding runs counter to mine. (Seems they think kneeling is overrated.) So this winter I placed an order for a little tractor scoot (I think that might even be what it's called) with a nifty swivel seat that looks just like...wait for it...a tractor seat! As I interpreted the mechanics of this design, the intrepid weeder is supposed to sit on the seat and swivel to face the weeds, pull them up, then scoot forward to the next patch--just like you are out plowing the back forty.

After I assembled the tractor scoot (which was all John Deere-y green), I eyeballed it, sat in it, swiveled in it, scooted around little on it, felt a tiny bit like a farmer on a tractor on it...and had my doubts about it. It all seemed to work as promised, and my knees certainly seemed happy not to be kneeling, but I wasn't sure how I was going to like bending at the waist to yank on the weeds. I had a suspicion it would cause some back strain, and if that turned out to be the case, the little mini-tractor was going to be a cute, but expensive garden ornament. Since weed season was still a couple of months away at that point, I was going to have to wait to find out.

Well people, weeding time is here, and yesterday I put the scoot through its paces. The verdict: it's my new favorite tool. It worked exactly as described as I used it to dispatch the crabgrass/spotted spurge/elm seedling triumvirate that was threatening to take over the veggie patch. I sat, swiveled, scooted, and weed after weed fell to my attention with minimal, if any, back strain, and zero knee strain. I rose from my ministrations as fresh as a ripe Aunt Ruby's German green tomato on a bacon sandwich.

The talking to myself out loud thinking deep thoughts probably helped with that, too.

I should mention here that I am not being a paid shill here. I've received no form of payment, goodies, promises of free seeds for this review. (If I get free stuff for review, I'll be sure to let you know...and, most importantly, I'll still give you an honest opinion. I'll pick it apart, from soup to nuts, fair reader! Or something like that...) I'm not even going to mention the company from whom I purchased this amazing machine--you could probably figure it out without too much trouble anyway. I just like a good tool and thought I'd pass along my wisdom in this matter.

Here's the weed veggie patch after weeding and mulching;

I put a thick layer of the neighbor's left-over leaves on top of everything to hold in the moisture and starve the weeds of light. It has worked pretty well in the past, but Town Mouse passed along the alarming news in one of her comments (see the previous post) that heavy mulching only seemed to encourage the weeds in her patch this year. We shall just have to hope for the best.

18 comments:

  1. So glad to see your review! I have eyeballing this in the catalog for a couple months, and I had the same questions you did. Nice to know it does help on all fronts!

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  2. We sold one of those at the Nursery. Funny how all the kids would skoot around on it, banging into the people in the line ups. Finally we had to hang it up in the ceiling to stop them from using it for such nefarious purposes.

    Looks like you really love yours. I would not mind having one myself.

    Jen

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  3. I always love to read an honest review by someone who has actually *used* the product. Sounds like a winner. :)

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  4. I've seen them, but I, too worried about the lower back strain. I use a skateboard, very low tech! I may have to check into the scooter if it's a winner.

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  5. Great Gardens! We always like to put a few layers of wet newspaper under our mulch. The weeds are very easy to manage and it's a good way to recycle.

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  6. Good to know- I have often wondered about these. Now I may have to get one! Thanks for the info!

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  7. I've wondered about the scooters! I have to be very careful to bend using the hips not the back. So I use knee pads. gail

    Old age ain't no place for sissies. ~Bette Davis

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  8. A wonderful, truthful review. I may need one of those soon. I talk to myself too in the garden.~~Dee

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  9. Great to see this reviewed. My knees are also over 50 (I could almost say well over 50) but I certainly don't need to transfer that strain to my back. I'm not sure how well it would work on my gravel paths though (they're not as packed as I'd like). And about the talking, you are not alone. I tend to surprise myself every so often when I realize I'm speaking out loud!

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  10. Oooh! I may get one for myself. My sciatic nerve would thank me.

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  11. Hello Susan

    I looked at the tractor scoot for years but a worker showed up one day with a garden kneeler from Gardeners Supply and my wife decided she needed one of those instead. (Gardeners Supply is a Vermont based business that just merged with another local supplier of merit, Four Seasons) The kneeler has been popular, is sometimes fought over, and recently served me well on the basement floor where I was painting on hydraulic cement to patch a couple leaks. Getting down has never been a problem but getting back up has brought out new aches in this aging body.
    Thanks for reminding folks what is out there to make gardening more enjoyable.

    George Africa
    The Vermont Gardener
    Vermont Flower Farm
    http://vermontflowerfarm.com

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  12. Thanks for the review - I can use all the weeding help I can get! I don't have any raised beds, so I wonder if things being a few inches lower would make any difference to the back? I know it wouldn't work in my kitchen garden, because the walkway is large bark mulch, but I have a LOT of other beds that might be good candidates. I think this nifty tool will have to go on my gift list - after all, my knees are more than half a centry old, too. Thanks again for the review!

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  13. I'm still thinking there would be some back strain - could we have some pictures of you in action - or better still a video!

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  14. I have one of these from Lee Valley, but I don't like it much; the wheels don't turn, unlike later models, and it's not adjustable to lower heights. I tend to use it in the greenhouse when I'm potting, and that's about it. So I'm glad you've obviously got a better model.

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  15. Your vegetable bed looks fabulous. And there's nothing wrong with taking a little help where you find it. What tomatoes are you growing? Cheers!

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  16. I'm just catching up after a busy end of the semester (you know the drill) - and boy, do I have the weeding to do. I tend to less 'kneal' than to just go ahead and sit (which is as much a reflection of all of the weeds that I have - actually, my weeds are worse in the winter than summer).

    Love the leaves used to mulch the garden - I am obsessed with leaves, and all spring (when the live oak leaves fall) stop and grab bags from along side the road.

    Happy travels!

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