Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tools for Digging in Georgia Clay

One thing that's really been nice about being back in Florida: sand!

I know... people complain about the sand here. However, it's truly a boon for the impatient gardener. You can dig a LOT in a short period of time, making getting to China that much easier than it is in clay soils.

Even awesome tools can fail. Ow.
When I used to live in Tennessee, I had hard and rocky clay. I had almost forgotten the pain. Sure, clay has its own advantages. It holds moisture and minerals, plus allows you to line ponds and dye all your clothing rust-red. But still... it's hard to dig.

This last week when I was in Georgia, I decided to put in a small garden with my young niece and nephew. I had brought beans to plant, I had my Clarington Forge spade and fork, and there was a good sunny spot... so all was well.

Or so I thought.

Once I started trying to dig, I realized we were in trouble. Even with forged heads and sharpened blades, the tools literally bounced off the ground.

I don't mean figuratively: I DO mean literally.

The tools... bounced... off... the... ground.

The soil there was harder than it was in Tennessee. My guess is because it was a concrete-like mixture of clay and sand together. Another problem: beneath the top inch or two of wet ground after a rain, the ground beneath was hard and dry. Not good.

Since I didn't have any dynamite, I decided it was time to take a trip to Lowes World to see if I could find something to chop at the ground.

As a side note: before leaving Florida, I tried to pack my amazing Easy Digging grub hoe but it wouldn't fit in the back of the car. I think it would have done wonderfully (and its long handle was more ergonomic than what I ended up buying) but there was no way to pack it without letting it hang out of the side of the car.

The police hate things like that, so instead I bought one of these:

After sharpening the blade and putting in about two hours of hard labor with that pickaxe, I finished digging a 14" or so deep bed for planting beans. The entire bed was about a 3' x 7' and it definitely gave me a workout, plus some good blisters. The tool came through like a champ.

All's well that ends well, however. My niece and I had a great time planting beans.

Tomorrow I'll show you what else we planted. This small suburban backyard will never be the same.

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At August 19, 2014 at 7:56 AM , Blogger jean said...

Cute picture! Sounds like you had a real party with the clay dirt.

At August 19, 2014 at 9:37 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

Thanks. I wish I had dug up a few buckets to add to my compost pile here in FL.

At August 19, 2014 at 8:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm... so for clay soil (read: Houston black clay) would you recommend the grub hoe over the Meadow creature broadfork? Particularly for those of us more slight of form and low on upper body strength?

At August 19, 2014 at 9:04 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Probably. I'd at least give the grub hoe a try first since it's a LOT cheaper. If it works well, add on the broadfork later... or better yet, see if you can try one out first. I love both tools. If I ever get a chance, I'll lug them both up to Georgia and see how they fare side-by-side.

BTW, if you do end up buying a broadfork directly from Meadow Creature, mention that David Goodman of Florida Survival Gardening recommended their tool to you and said you'd get 10% off if you name-dropped him. ;) They really appreciated the review I did and told me to pass that on to anyone asking about their tool on this site.

At August 20, 2014 at 7:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks much! I've had the Meadowcreature on my 'tool wish list' for over a year now... But a grub hoe is much more 'possible' financially. Name-dropping will certainly be used when I can get a Meadowcreature! :)

Speaking of tools, I've been on the lookout for a bill-hook machete (another of your go-to tools), but haven't found one that looks like yours in the pictures. Any recommendations? Especially one I can get through your Amazon pagelink? :)

At August 20, 2014 at 1:42 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At August 20, 2014 at 1:42 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

I posted a new post with a machete that should work for you.

At August 20, 2014 at 3:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perfect! Thank you- and I will let the grub hoe people know they ought give you a discount on your own next purchase! :) ~Trish in TX

At August 20, 2014 at 3:37 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Thanks, Trish, but you don't have to. Greg at Easy Digging has already sent me some cool tools to test out here in FL. ;)


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