GARDEN TIP: Hand Plows

Post last updated: August 3rd, 2018

We got our first walk-behind, wheeled hand plow from a friend of Momma and Poppie’s. By the time it went to meet its maker, I was the only one using it and Poppie was not interested in replacing it. He was using a big honkin’ terrifyin’ gas-powered rototiller. I tried to use the rototiller but it didn’t like me. Like a snarling dog, it sensed fear and gunned its motor at me. More than once, it took off across the yard without me. On one occasion when I was too stupid to let go, the rototiller jerked me off my feet and whipped me up in the air to flap in the breeze like a flag. I immediately began the search for a new hand plow.

The search did not go well. I live in a major metropolitan city. Feed and seed stores, for the most part, are a thing of the past. I wrongly assumed a feed and seed store would most certainly know about hand plows. What I encountered, instead, were blank expressions rivaling Barney on the Andy Griffith Show. I encountered this enough times to wonder if they had even seen a pitch fork up close and personal. I don’t know who was more embarrassed – them or me – so I stopped asking. I skulked around in every corner of half a dozen feed stores and small hardware stores hoping to clap eyes on one. Finally, I turned to the internet.

I had a little trouble with the internet, too, because it had been infused with an injection of uppity-mindedness. Here’s your garden tip for the week: a hand plow is now called a high wheel cultivator. It gets hard to pretend you’re a farmer when half of ‘em look at you with the “Huh?” expression and the other half had to go and git uppity about farmin’. Why on earth would you saunter into a store and ask for a high wheel cultivator when all you want is a hand plow? Did they have that uppity name between 1910 and 1940 when hand plows were in wider use?

I finally obtained one of the uppity contraptions via internet. My 6500 Earth Way High Wheel Cultivator was made in the U.S.A. and came with three attachments – a moldboard plow, a furrow plow and a 5-tined cultivator. Quite frankly, I would have rather had the optional slicing hoe. I like slicing hoes. Matter of fact, I like any kind of tool that doesn’t involve gasoline, a pull cord or a lot of heart-rending noise. I’ll admit that such tools require more manual labor but at least I don’t have to screech “dadgummit” following each attempt to fire it up.

I had one basic use for the hand plow all those years. After using a half-moon edger to cut a line in the grass four inches out from my liropi border grass, I would run the plow between the border grass and the cut edge to get rid of grass and weeds to expose raw dirt. To keep up appearances, I periodically ran a slicing hoe in the trench but weeds have a nasty habit of taking over and the plow would be drug out again. Nowadays, the plow has been pressed into more traditional service. With the furrow plow, I can hill up rows in my vegetable garden or dig trenches to plant potatoes and then plow along beside the potatoes to cover them. It can also be used to cultivate weeds in the walking paths between rows but I tend to cover my walking paths with leaves. One caveat: my plow is tubular steel and not intended for breaking ground although I did give it a good try. After torturing both myself and the plow, I walked over to Mr. Beekeeper’s to ask if he could till up my 2012 garden expansion.

NOTES: See the updated, more informative post on hand plows

See the updated, more informative post on hand plows here.

See a hand plow used as yard art here.

20 thoughts on “GARDEN TIP: Hand Plows”

      1. It sure did. Although, I suppose I could be using hot wax for some sort of nefarious purpose. Come to think of it, the guy who finally figured out what I was talking about did act kind of flirty – I recognized flirty, although it had been nearly a quarter of century since I saw it up close and personal – but the blank expressions? I am really familiar with those…after all, I’m a fairly intelligent woman who can’t figure out how to sign her dadgumm name to a blog comment. 🙂

        1. Well, Sister Glo, you are talking to the choir when it comes to not being able to figure out simple stuff. You got it right his time! Poor ole Evie took the brunt of my wrath for your oops. I love the idea of nefarious purposes. Subversive ones, too. –Mizz Chairman

  1. I’m the one who gives those expressions. And you surely would have gotten that expression if you asked me for a high wheel cultivator. That doesn’t even sound like you are asking for a hand plow. What were they thinking?

    1. Evie — I don’t know what they were thinking. I marvel at the insanity of it. I would still be in the dark and without a hand plow if it hadn’t been for ONE website that identified a high wheel cultivator as a hand plow. This must have been a shock to you – that I owned a hand plow. –Mizz Chairman

  2. I can’t believe it has a “new and improved” name! I have never used a hand plow, but your idea of using it for edging seems very smart. Good luck with your new toy, whatever you call it!

  3. I have used the Earthway High Wheel Cultivator for a few years now and I have found it more satisfying to manually plow my small garden. Another thing I love about this garden plow is how easy it is to find parts for it. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I have.

  4. I really enjoyed all the canter about garden plows (high wheel cultivator), sorry! I really desire to pay real money for one, but alas not a mention about where to purchase one. Can they still be purchased? I suppose I could convert one of my fathers old “scooter stocks” into one??!!! I really want one.

    1. Dear Still Farming in LA — It’s okay to laugh at the nonsense I write on this blog. My blog is for entertainment rather than practical knowledge although I do throw in a garden tip now and then. By the time I wanted to replace my high wheel cultivator, they could no longer be found even in small hardware stores. I turned to the internet and honestly, really, truly, everyone in the world should START with the internet when they want something. Think of the internet as your very own Wizard of Oz. The place you go for answers unless it’s serious. Serious questions go to God. A good place to start looking for answers is amazon.com. Read their reviews. Then go to a search engine and search for “high wheel cultivator reviews.” There’s a lot of debate over whether the high wheel or low wheel cultivators are best. That’s why you should read the reviews. Once you’ve narrowed it down to the cultivator YOU want, go to the price comparison search engines like nexTag and mySimon and hunt for the best price/best shipping costs. There are huge price differences! I’ve said all this hoping that other people will read this and use the internet more effectively. I ordered mine YEARS AGO on the internet and it came in a box unassembled with 2 or 3 cultivator thingies but my fave is the blade plow. I like mine just fine and it does what I want done except till but they specifically said it can’t do heavy work. There’s a guy who will sell you the parts to one he designed but I know nothing about him nor can I recommend his product. You can find him at http://planetwhizbang.blogspot.com.

  5. Well now $General friend, wish I’d known you wanted a hand plow. I’d put you in my car and take off for my home town of Live Oak or nearby little Mayo and I promise you we woulda found that plow. Over there a REAL feed and seed store has them in stock. In fact, my brother parked 2 reallllly old ones on Mom’s porch cause they were ” historical” he told her. She was not a happy camper.

    1. I’m so glad you would have wanted to help me get a plow. I bought mine back in the 90’s from a mail order source I no longer remember (might have it in my files somewhere). But seeing a REAL feed and seed store would be a ton of fun to me because we don’t have anything even close here in the big city. Standard Feed might be a variation of a real feed store but they went and got fancy when they moved and I’m not even sure they sell the baby chicks anymore. Your Momma might have had a Planet Jr. hand plow. I suppose they disappeared, right?

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