All sorts of hoes are available, and the one or ones you choose to invest in is partly a matter of what you feel comfortable using and what you need them for. For maximum efficiency, both pushing and pulling action is desirable. At any rate, hoes tend to be long-handled, which is fine, but their blade also needs to be right for the place where you use it. If you'll be working in cramped spaces, like the rows of a vegetable or herb garden, pick a narrow-bladed one, of course. About 6 inches wide is standard.
Chemical warfare: Pesticides
The use of chemicals to control pests — including weeds, insects, rodents, fungi, and microorganisms — is a very complicated subject that varies in its regulations by state. Luckily, most chemicals sold to consumers are relatively safe. The most toxic ones have been taken off the market or are available only to certified appliers. Visit npic.orst.edu/index. html for general pesticide info and www. pesticideinfo.org/Index.html for a pesticide database. And finally, check out www. epa.gov/pesticides/about for pesticide info from the Environmental Protection Agency.
You can also look through the plant-specific chapters for more info on using pesticides and other methods of pest control.
A good hoe should not be a lightweight or wimpy tool — you mean business. Choose one with a strong, durable hardwood handle (such as hickory or ash). Forged steel is standard for the blade. If either of these parts gets worn out or damaged, replacing it is an option. As for the point of attachment, the handle should be snug and secure in a hole in the top of the blade, even reinforced with rivets, so there's no risk of its falling off.
Sharpness counts! Your hoe will be sharp when you first bring it home. But you have to keep it so, or else it'll do a sloppy or damaging job. File it often to maintain its beveled edge.
Hoes do a better job on ground that has recently been watered or rained upon. That's because the weed roots they're meant to be tearing out depart damp ground much more easily and completely than those in dry soil.
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Learn what you can do with herbs! How to Plant, Grow, and Cook with Natural Herbs. Have you always wanted an herb garden but didn't know how to get started? Do you want to know more about growing your own herbs in the privacy of your home and using them in a variety of cooking?