Friday, April 8, 2011

How Large a Rake Do You Need?



These old teeth get the job done
Do I need a Tacoma pickup truck or an 18-wheeler to cart bags of pine-bark mulch from Sun Nurseries to our house?


Easy answer: My little Tacoma is just the right size, thank you, to haul about a dozen large bags. An 18-wheeler would be overkill—and the 90° bend in our narrow driveway would give fits to even a skilled big-rig driver.


And out in my garden, what size rake do I need for my veggie gardens?


In her “A Cook’s Garden” column in the Washington Post, Barbara Damrosch shows a 29”-wide rake available from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, one of my favorite catalog and online sites. I looked up the rake in the catalog, and wow, the rake must be the Lexus of rakes.


Called the Bed Preparation Rake, its Swiss-made aluminum head is 29” wide. The head, which has 20 four-inch teeth, is adjustable, to suit your height or the job at hand. There’s even one optional accessory: a pack of six plastic tubes that slip onto the teeth of the rake to mark rows or make a grid. Total: $76.00 for the rake and $4.95 for the tubes, plus $11.95 shipping.


If you have a huge garden, hire hands to care for your garden, or grow neurotic carrots or beets that require straight planting rows for their seed, then this $90 rake is probably just what you need. But do Susie Smith and John Doe gardeners, with their 15x15 veggie beds, need such a large and expensive tool?


This gardener doesn’t. Like most gardeners, I have an old garden rake in the garage. It was my dad’s. The head is standard width, 14”, plenty wide for raking jobs in my small, terraced veggie beds. No, its 14 teeth are not adjustable, but I simply raise or lower the handle to change the angle of the teeth whenever I wish. It works fine the two or three times a year I need a rake.


Economy tool for making planting rows
Can I get along without having plastic tubes to put on my rake teeth to mark rows for crop planting? Well, yes, in ancient times my dad showed me how the rounded handle end of the rake makes a dandy tool to make a row in garden soil. A corner of a hoe blade works just as well. My veggies grow well even if their rows zig a little or zag a little.


This frugal gardener will make do with his heirloom rake, which has served two generations well even though it doesn’t have adjustable teeth.


To read Damrosch’s article and see her photo of the big rake, CLICK HERE.

4 comments:

  1. geez, I'm using my kids' toy rake. It does the job fine and actually does well in my small garden beds!

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  2. Ok, confession time, Wendy. My "other" rake is only about 7" wide, and I use it more than my 14" rake. My beds too are small. And a Comment posted on FB reminded me that, yes, the rake handle can make a row for seeds--but so can a corner of the rake.

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  3. Hehe. Our rakes we didn't even buy. We bought both our houses from retirees moving away from yards, and yard tools were left behind. So our garden rakes are older than we are!

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  4. Anonymous, there's no better bargain than a free rake!

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