GARDEN TIP: All About Hand Plows

Post last updated: October 23rd, 2019

Earthway 6500 High Wheel Cultivator
with Furrow Plow attachment

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

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:

moldboard plow-2367Moldboard plow which the owner’s manual claimed was “perfect for light plowing and hilling operations.”  I have never used it.

   

Handplow furrow plow-2370 

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.

handplow 5 tined cultivator-2364

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.

WHEEL HOES

HOSS

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

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.

GLASER

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.

CHECK REVIEWS

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:

HAND DIGGER

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.

13 thoughts on “GARDEN TIP: All About Hand Plows”

  1. You did some excellent and thorough research in this article. There must be quite a few people interested in doing this since you are # 7 on the subject.
    You go girl.

    1. LOL, Meta! I think I’m the #7 go-to-girl because I’m the ONLY person who calls them a hand plow other than the poor gardener trying to find a hand plow. The manufacturers want to call them everything BUT a hand plow.

  2. Great information!!! This post could have been named “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About a Hand Plow, but Didn’t Know to Ask”! If I were looking for a hand plow, I would hope to run into this post as it’s very thorough and all in one place. Very nice.

    1. Well, Holleygarden, I wasn’t very excited about having to do a buncha research on hand plows but when I kept seeing “hand plows” in my stats, I went to Google to see what was going on. That’s when I learned I was the go-to-gal.

  3. How hard is it to use a hand plow? Was the soil already loose, broken up? I am interested in one, but my soil is heavy clay and in a quite dry area. My soil is bad enough that I have taken up lasagna gardening which works quite well and is slowly amending the soil.

    1. Hi Shirley. You can’t use a hand plow to break ground. Most of their websites will tell you that. You can’t even use them to try to plow up the weeds at the end of a growing season. I just about wrecked mine doing that and I KNEW not to do it. I spread thick, heavy black plastic over my garden from last August until just recently. Only at the edges do I have weeds where light slipped in. I can plow those weeds because the dirt is soft. I can plow the tracks between my grass and liropi (bordergrass) AFTER I have cut the edges with an edger. For the most part, I think you will find that most hand plow vendors intend for the hand plow to be used for LIGHT tilling of weeds between rows after the ground has been worked with a tiller. If you do not have a tiller, the lasagna gardening method is the next best thing to preparing your ground for a garden. After you have amended the clay a few years with manure and compost, then you could work it with a hand plow at the beginning and end of each season. I definitely recommend using the lasagna method or black plastic between seasons to keep weeds from invading.

      1. Thank you for such a prompt reply. What you said, was what I guessed. The “lasagna” method is working for me. The first year I had problems, but by the second year, things did very well. I learned that I needed to add more soil to bind things together and hold the water better.

        1. Shirley – Good to know about adding more soil to the lasagna pile. I’ve never tried the method but I’ve been intrigued with it ever since reading one of the lasagna books. One of the tools we’ve got around here that I can’t find in the stores anymore looks like the sole of a woman’s high heel in that it comes to a point at one end and the other end is a narrow 3-4″ hoe. Good for weeding and beating up the ground when required.

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