Post last updated: October 23rd, 2019
In the original hand plow post, I was explaining that my search for a new hand plow, back in the 90’s, was unsuccessful in my major metropolitan city. When I searched the internet for “hand plows”, I found one website that referred to them as hand plows. Without that one website, I would have never found the Earthway High Wheel Cultivator I ultimately purchased. The internet has improved but there are numerous phrases to use in your search engine to get a complete picture of the available varieties:
- Garden cultivator
- Hand push plow
- High Wheel cultivator
- Push plow
- Walk behind cultivator
- Walk behind plow
- Wheel hoe
- Wheel hoe walk behind cultivator
HIGH WHEEL CULTIVATORS
Earthway 6500 High Wheel Garden Cultivator has tubular steel or hardwood handles. Some reviews claim the hardwood handles are sturdier and feel more solid. It has a 24-inch wheel that wobbles back and forth and I often feel that it is plowing me rather than the other way around. I may not have the handle properly adjusted for my height. The price was right.
Prominently displayed on their page is the caveat, “This High Wheel Cultivator is intended for use in soil already plowed or tilled. It is not designed as a ground-breaking tool.” I found this to be true. When I tried to weed my veggie patch using the furrow plow to dig the weeds out, I almost tore it up. The wheel is now more wobbly so keep this in mind.
At the Southern Rural Route, we have had two Earthway High Wheel Cultivators. I have no experience with any other brand of hand plow. It came with 3 standard attachments:
Furrow plow. The owner’s manual claims it is “perfect for making seed furrows. This double-ended and reversible tool makes two sizes of furrows.” Dictionary.com defines a furrow as a narrow groovelike or trenchlike depression made in any surface but they included “especially by a plow” and wrinkles, heaven forbid. Each spring after edging 4 or 5 inches in front of the liriope (border grass), I used this attachment to remove grass and weeds in that “track” unless the winter growth of grass is too heavy.
5-Tined Cultivator per the owner’s manual is of “strong, long lasting construction.” After my veggie garden has been professionally tilled, this attachment easily removes weeds by skimming along the surface, with just a little pressure to make the tines dig into the soil.
DISCLOSURE: The Earthway 6500 is the only hand plow with which I have personal experience.
Hoss wheel hoes are made in Georgia and are available in both a single or a double wheel hoe. At wheelhoe.com/category/garden-cultivator-comparison/, they have a page comparing their wheel hoe to other hand plows and conveniently name their competition (guffaw, guffaw). On their wheel hoe blog, Hoss has an instructional video demonstrating how the wheel hoe is used to weed the garden.
No mention of whether or not it could be used as a ground-breaking tool.
If you have seen some antique hand plows marked Planet Jr., Hoss has some of the history at wheelhoe.com/planet-jr-cultivator/.
Valley Oak has an informative video. Sounded to me like it could be used as a ground-breaking tool but, of all the hand plows, this is the most expensive. It also had a convenient pin replacement mechanism for changing the attachments rather than having to fetch your tool box.
I could not find a manufacturer website for the Glaser rubber tired wheel hoe. It appears to be a Swiss hoe sold by Johnny’s Selected Seeds. You can see it in action by searching for it at YouTube.
These hand plows range in price from $100 to $275. Too bad we can’t take them for a test drive. It really depends on how much you can spend versus how much you think you will use it for the kind of gardening you plan to do. If you are going to pull it out of the shed only a few times a year, it might not make sense to spend a lot of money.
In making your purchase decision, check the internet for reviews. For instance, type Glaser Wheel Hoe + reviews to see what comes up. Also, punch in manufacturer names on YouTube for videos done by other gardeners. These two methods are great ways to find honest product assessments.
MAKE YOUR OWN PLOW
For the crafty do-it-yourselfers, I found some instructions on e-How:
- How to Make A Garden Plow
- How To Build A Garden Plow
- How To Build A Garden Push Plow
- How To Plow A Garden Without a Plow is about removing the sod and double digging a garden bed. However, with the lasagna method, you don’t have to do all that back breaking manual labor. Patricia Lanza has written several books on this method of layering newspaper, cardboard, etc. and then waiting for the earthworms to do their work.
- Mother Earth News Bike Frame Cultivator. In promoting Tamara Dean’s book, “The Human-Powered Home,” Mother Earth News gives you step-by-step instructions for building a cultivator from a bike frame.
In doing this research, I stumbled on a bizarre pointy thing that looks like you could aim it with precision at any given weed. Whether it is named Korean Style “hand plow” or EZ-Digger, it’s the same thing and priced about the same. On amazon.com, consumers were not impressed with the finish quality of the Korean version. Also available was a long handled version which would be my preference. I’m not getting down on my hands and knees to weed. I might not be able to get back up.