Oddities of Gardeners – Why I Love my Soil Knife

Have you ever had this happen… you’re out gardening and a weed catches your eye, you pull it. Then you see another and another. Somehow you end up about 15 feet away from your trowel (or clippers, or knife..) and you come upon a monster weed that requires digging up instead of pulling up. You’re so into the task of conquering this weed that getting up to walk the 15 feet to your trowel doesn’t even occur to you and instead you find yourself tugging, pulling, even digging at the weed with a nearby stick instead of stopping to get up and get the right tool?

Ok, so maybe I’m strange, but that has certainly happened to me… on more than one occasion.

Soil Knife

Enter the greatest gardening tool I have ever owned, my soil knife. This knife is a multi-function tool that, in my opinion, is all I need on a regular day in the garden. It has depth markings on the blade, a little notch in the side for cutting twine or string, a super strong blade and sturdy handle, and a serrated edge (which was perfect for the lettuce crew cut I did this morning). It even comes with a handy-dandy leather sheath that can hook onto your belt.

I use this knife to dig holes for transplants, to stir up the soil before broadcasting seeds, to cut twine, to tie up floppy plants and even to gouge out weeds and sweep them under the garden walkways to decompose.

Just this weekend I learned a new way of harvesting lettuce where my soil knife comes in very handy. Previously I had just harvested the outer leaves of lettuce to make my salad, but I read of another method in Garden Way’s Joy of Gardening. The author recommends giving your early lettuce a crew cut instead of cutting just a few leaves. He says pulling just a few leaves allows the lettuce to keep on with it’s original life-cycle toward bolting and flowering and that giving the lettuce a crew cut forces it to start again with tender new leaves in a few weeks time, thereby giving you an easy second harvest and possibly a third after that before the plants are done for the season.

Soil KnifeHe also recommends sowing seeds very thickly in a wide row instead of using the recommendations on the seed packets. The lettuce plants above were transplants fromShortt’s Organic Farm, but the picture below shows how I did sow some lettuce seed very thickly. They’re still too small to harvest, but will be ready soon.

Baby Lettuce

If you have gardening tips to share on how to make gardening easier or increase yields, I would love to hear from you.


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