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Matt Stern
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Location: Williams, OR
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Any thoughts/suggestions/experiences on the various wheel hoes on the market? I'm looking at one for weeding/cultivating, furrowing/hilling and possibly seeding.

The main ones out there seem to be these:

Hoss Tools
Whizbang
Valley Oak
Glaser

Have you tried one?
 
r ranson
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I adore my wheel hoe. It's one of my favourite tools on the farm. I think what I have is a Hoss.

It's a funny story, I saved up for months to afford it, and the day I brought home my new wheel hoe and got it muddy, I found a used one for free online. So now I have two. One is set up with a mini-plough blade and the other is with the fingers. I like the mini plough for cutting through existing growth. It makes a slit in the turf, or whatever's growing, I can put the seeds in the slit, then fold the ground back into place as if nothing happened.





The one with the fingers/tines, I use for the 'traditional' garden. I say traditional, as in it's the way that my great grandparents grew things before the first world war. This is an area that get's tilled once a year with the tractor to incorporate the cover crop into the soil. For the first few weeks of spring, I use the wheel hoe between the rows to keep the weeds down, then later in the summer, I use it again to prepare the soil between the mangelwurzels so I can intercrop something like rye, favas, or kale that will grow over winter. I'm a huge fan of sewing the seeds of the next crop between the rows of the crop I'm about to harvest.

The mangelwurzels come up in the fall, and the kale grows tall overwinter and feeds the livestock.

I just used the wheel hoe again between the kale plants and planted lentils. Now I won't be tilling that plot this spring because there is already something growing. Sure, it's disturbed the first two or three inches of soil, but it is better than using the tractor on it. One small step closer to no-till.

Maybe in April, I'll take up the kale, use my wheel hoe to prepare the soil between the lentils, then plant this years mangelwurzels.

Edit: I think only one of mine is a Hoss, the old one. The new one is from lee valley. They both work well, the new one gives me slivers because I haven't finished the wood yet, and the old one has some loose joints because I haven't had a chance to repair it yet. Otherwise, they are as easy as each other to use. The attachments are interchangeable between the two.
 
brian hanford
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Location: Washington State
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i think hoss makes the best, and best price. just make sure that your using it for light duty, if you have any ground that needs more work force. rent or buy a walking tractor or rototiller, personally i dont like rototillers. my david bradley walking tractor is great for breaking new ground and turning cover crops( thou i just chop and drop) it is not precises enough for me to cultivate around difficult crops. the wheel hoes are so much better than hoes and hand cultivators if your garden is very big the seeder is really nice i have one like an earth way and it works ok looking at getting a jang in a few years. like the walking tractors i dont know why everyone with a larger garden dosen't have both, couldn't do mine with out it. my veggie patch is about 1/4 acre.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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A few years ago I grew a 4 acre garden that was weeded early in the season with a hoss wheel hoe. I love it... However in my heavy soil, I can only use it successfully until early summer. In late summer and fall, I am not strong enough to move it through the hard ground and overgrown weeds -- unless I take out so many teeth that it takes too many passes to get much done. I am very strong... I have one field which is sandy. I can use a wheel hoe in that field all year. I have a field that is rocky. I can't use a wheel hoe in it at all.

The keyway for the attachments doesn't match the shape of the attachments, so they wobble unnecessarily in the frame and the bolts don't stay tight.

I feel like the steel was cheap, so I broke bolts, and bent attachments... I'd think that they should be strong enough to handle the force a human being can apply to them.

I sharpened cutting edges that I think should have come sharpened from the factory.

I love that I can take out the wheel hoe and work for a couple minutes and put it away... If I use a rototiller it's more like a job, and less joyful.

I have found this wheel-hoe to be a joy to use. I can do weeding in a few minutes that would take me all day to do with a hand-hoe. My productivity is about 1/4 acre weeding per hour, or both sides of an 85 foot long row per minute.

I dislike the pistol grip handles.
 
Matt Stern
Posts: 44
Location: Williams, OR
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Thanks for the thoughtful replies. Sounds like you all like the Hoss, in spite of some of its weak points. And it looks like Lee Valley is selling the Hoss, too.
 
Susan Doyon
Posts: 149
Location: Massachusetts
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I have an old planet JR dual wheel with the newer attachments I love it , but removing larger stones is a must . here in new england we grow stones
I like the dual wheel design as it stays standing up most of the time when I have to lean over to grab and toss a stone which is every few feet !

 
Burra Maluca
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My other half has an old Jalo.



These things first came out in the UK in 1951, when he was a teenager, and it was one of his lifelong ambitions to own one and a patch of land to use it on. Just before we emigrated to Portugal, one turned up at a farm auction and he finally got his wish!

We have a few accessories to go with it too. I'll try to persuade him to dig them out and do a demonstration.
 
Ryan Ramsay
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Location: Willamette Valley
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I just purchased and built out the Planet Whizbang kit with the 8" oscillating hoe. I've been using it primarily in pathways and at the feet of the beds to keep the grass at bay as it's a little large and clunky for cultivating in the crops - What a champ and a pleasure to use though! A lighter weight hoe with a tine cultivator would be better suited for work within the beds in my opinion. All-in with kit, parts and paint it was about $130 and an afternoon and I don't regret a dime of it because this thing is rock solid. The hoe blade could be a little more heavy duty but it keeps a nice edge. I'm also considering upgrading to the 10" blade to cover a little more breadth on each pass. If you have the skills, the shop and the time, purchasing the plans and building it from the ground up seems like a no-brainer. I also am not a huge fan of the recommended pistol grip and I'm sketching out some handle designs that might work better for me.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Mine is just for decoration. The handles are rotted off there is a dent in the steel wheel. But it makes an interesting fence where someone could fall off a garden path. I could build new handles and pound the wheel out but I don't have rowes to cultivate they are either mowed or carpeted.
 
Erica Wisner
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We sometimes use an old green one where I help out on Leaping Sheep Farm - they have a couple versions, but the green one with the biggest wheel comes out the most often. I think I've seen it used for tilling or turning a line in single rows when the tractor was down, and more often with a flat, hoe-like attachment for weeding between the rows when the weeds got away from us.

The other tool in this general category (things that help with row maintenance while saving the back) is something from the Netherlands called a "scoeffel."
(Not sure of the spelling, sounds like "scuffle" with one of those special letters for the first vowel).
This is what we use when we're on schedule for weeding, so we never need the big guns.

It's basically a flat knife, either like a hoe blade or a half-moon shape, at a slight angle to the main handle. (20 or 30 degrees, not 90-120 degrees like a hoe. It's like you took one of those flat-bladed edge-trimmers for driveways and paths, laid it on the ground, stood on the blade, and pulled the handle up just enough to where it could knock someone's shins but good).

This tool is used between rows in tilled beds to cut off the sprouting weeds just below the soil surface. We typically use it a week to a few weeks after planting, when the weeds are putting up their first leaves up to about 2" high, not bigger.
It's much easier on the body than a hoe, you don't have to lift it or chop downward, but use a horizontal push-and-pull motion, kind of like shuffle-boarding, or running a Swiffer or sponge-mop.
You have to be super-aware of the size and shape of the blade as you can't see it most of the time. Apparently the old boys work backwards down the row, leaving the soil as loose as possible for a "dirt mulch."
The process uproots the weeds but leaves them in the soil, like chop-and-drop mulching; and my Norwegian farmer friend says it loosens and breaks the capillary flow to the surface, slowing water loss through the exposed soil. Not sure about that, but he's pretty water-thrifty and has only been doing this for untold generations.

I don't till at home, but I still want one. The long handle and standing posture make it a comfortable, light-weight tool to use for other weeding jobs, maybe like accessing higher parts of a hugel, or getting in between the strawberries.
Not as good once the weeds have gotten big and tough, but beautifully handy if you're doing tilled rows. Big incentive to keep up with the weeding so you never have to bend over until harvest.

-Erica

 
John Polk
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This is it:
Schoffel-hoe.PNG
[Thumbnail for Schoffel-hoe.PNG]
 
Hans Quistorff
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Hans Quistorff wrote:Mine is just for decoration. The handles are rotted off there is a dent in the steel wheel. But it makes an interesting fence where someone could fall off a garden path. I could build new handles and pound the wheel out but I don't have rowes to cultivate they are either mowed or carpeted.
I found the pictures
2013-08-17-16.57.48.jpg
[Thumbnail for 2013-08-17-16.57.48.jpg]
2013-08-17-16.57.15.jpg
[Thumbnail for 2013-08-17-16.57.15.jpg]
 
r ranson
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I've been using my wheel hoe quite frequently on one of the beds. It's doing a great job at reducing the weed load, but boy oh boy do my shoulders hurt. Any thoughts on ergonomics of wheel hoeing?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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R Ranson wrote:I've been using my wheel hoe quite frequently on one of the beds. It's doing a great job at reducing the weed load, but boy oh boy do my shoulders hurt. Any thoughts on ergonomics of wheel hoeing?


I know that feeling! My strategy is to take out some teeth so that it's easier to push. If I'm running with sweeps, I might install one sweep instead of two. Using it at the right soil moisture helps. Using it more frequently on smaller weeds helps. In my hard clay soil, I pretty much have to stop using the wheel hoe in late summer when the ground is drying out, because I don't have the strength. A masseuse helps a lot.

I like the height of the handles to be just above waist level. If they are too high, it seems like I tire more easily.
 
r ranson
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I like the height of the handles to be just above waist level. If they are too high, it seems like I tire more easily.


Maybe that's my problem. My handles are a lot higher on me. Nearly armpit height.

Right now the ground is quite loose but I haven't been putting the tines all the way in (too rocky for sweeps). Maybe hoping deeper would make it easier?

Also, do you manage the weeds within the rows? Hoe by hand?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I really don't like bending over, or crawling, so I do as much in-row weeding as possible with
a long-handled hoe.

This is my favorite hoe for weeding within rows:


If I am careful while planting, to plant at the right distance, I can use a wider hoe.

 
Hans Quistorff
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A masseuse helps a lot.

I like the height of the handles to be just above waist level. If they are too high, it seems like I tire more easily.

Answering the call.

The purpose of the wheel hoe is to transfer the work from the arms to the legs. Therefore the handles should be adjusted to between the wast and hip height. Keep spine straight and arms close to the body. Lean into the handles and push with the legs. The principle muscles being used in the shoulders then will be the muscles holding the shoulder blades down principly the serratus anterior which will expand the ribs with each push bringing more oxygen to the muscles.

By the end of the row the arms will need more movement to clear the lymph so have the weeder there and work your way back one row and up the other then do a couple more rows with the wheel hoe.

After care, start your shower hot to flush the pores then coll it down to get the blood and lymph to withdraw then heat it back up to get the circulation to return. Magnesium oil [super saturated magnesium sulfate] massaged into sore areas after the shower helps some people recover. The best rubs provide transdermal nutrition of some sort.
 
Wayne Veasey
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From our experience, everyone likes the wheel hoe handles at a different height. Some people like the handles closer to their waist because they drive with their legs, while some people like the handles closer to the chest because they push more with their arms. Either way, get a wheel hoe with adjustable handle height. I know the Hoss has adjustable handles -- not sure about the other manufacturers.

 
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