Whoever said something had to be complicated to be useful never got his or her hands on a dibbler. This most basic garden tool, really just a souped-up stick sharpened to a point, fulfills an indispensable role for certain garden planting chores. The catalogs advertise it as a bulb-planting implement, but I like it much better for leeks. Having just had a tray of June-planted leeks hanging around and thinking that I could at least manage some pinky-finger-thick leeks by February if I planted now, I took the greatest pleasure in using my newly-purchased dibbler to…well, dibble (transitive verb: to make holes in [soil] with the use of a pointed instrument). The dibbler makes a spacious 1″ wide hole into which a baby leek can comfortably slide. The depth of the hole depends upon how much you lean into it. What’s best is if you make the hole about 2/3rds as deep as the leek is long (say a 4″ deep hole for a 6″ long transplant), you are already pre-burying it, assuring that much more creamy, blanched leek shank at harvest time.
As you can see, my dibbler, and really any dibbler that’s going to make it in today’s hyper-competitive dibbler market, has a few deluxe features which distinguish it from a mere sharpened stick and thus merit the twelve or so dollars required to possess such a gloriously simple tool. You’ll see there is a comfort handle affixed perpendicularly to the main axis, preventing a wicked callous from forming in the palm of your hand after repeated dibbling. There is also a welded metal sheath encasing the pointed end of the dibbler’s shaft, insuring years of hard work in the field or garden. Plus the thing just looks beautiful. Clearly there’s a barn full of Amish craftsmen somewhere in Ohio or Pennsylvania cranking out these functional and aesthetic pieces, probably the same people who make those heating cabinets for $200 that always get a full-page ad in my local newspaper.
I sometimes worry that with x-boxes and ipads, people may be getting away from gardening, and even if the roles of gardeners stay full, perhaps the numbers of leek and bulb planters may decline. Dibble manufacturers, fear not. Just start marketing them as urban self-defense tools for people to carry in their bag or purse: “Hey, let go of me, or I’m going to have to dibble you!” So to speed your leek planting or just to save your life, get a dibbler.