I am doing a lot of weeding in the garden these days and realizing that one of my favorite tools for soil cleanup is the one I came equipped with from day one…my hands. Working with another favorite, a stout Japanese hand cultivator fashioned from heavy-duty metal that takes a wicked edge, I follow up a harvest with a cultivator pass just under the soil and then, essentially, a rubbing back and forth with my fingers through the now-loosened soil. The wonder is that somehow that slight sub-surface soil massage makes the smallish weeds and their roots ball up and agglomerate (unlike the SAT board, I am not taking out infrequently used words!) so that a large blob of weedy mass accumulates on the bed’s surface and is easily removed. It’s quick, it’s easy, and you never misplace your needed tool.
Lucy from the Peanuts comic strip had her version of an ever-ready hand tool when she persuaded her interlocutors (you probably won’t see that one on the new SAT test, either!) of the overriding virtue of her arguments by offering “five good reasons” why they should adopt her position – the five reasons being her five digits sequentially curled into a fist. She was never without her persuader! I take a more peaceful approach but still value the five-fingered wonder tool that is always at the ready. It gathers weeds, it pokes holes in soil, it scoops transplants gently out of trays. Gardeners everywhere, let’s give a hand to…our hands!