Post last updated: October 10th, 2018
Tonya bought a new shovel – a drain spade and raved about it on her Facebook page, Seed & Gardening Exchange. I was intrigued as I am not particularly overwhelmed with the regular shovels we have on the Southern Rural Route.
Research tells me that drain spades are used for digging narrow, deep ditches to drain agricultural land; digging post holes for fences; laying pipe; and transplanting small trees and shrubs in tight areas.
A regular shovel’s wide, concave blade is angled to scoop loose material while the blade of a spade extends in a straight line from the handle, designed for digging. The long, narrow drain spade, also called a sharpshooter, has aided farmers and gardeners for more than a century.
It has a short wood handle and a long, narrow metal rectangle at the digging end. While intrigued, I was not convinced I needed one until I got to try one out at the Mandarin Garden Club. Within moments, I knew I would acquire one for myself. To do so, I had to fork over an unseemly amount of money for what I considered a dwarf shovel.
The 16-inch blade on my Ames spade is long and narrow for making four precise cuts in tight spaces.
Called treads or steps, my spade has small platforms on its shoulders for giving it some oomph when digging. On other brands, the tread may be narrow or deep and face forward or back.
Poppie has even used my drain spade. Having the memory of a rusted sieve, I don’t remember what he was trying to pull from the earth with his bare hands but I do remember saying to him, “Let me get my shovel,” and I returned with the drain spade.