The Southern Agrarian

Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

Tools For The Garden

Gardening can be very time-consuming, hard work – unless you have the right tools for the job. The right tools can make the work fast and easy, and they can allow someone to reasonably produce enough food to feed their family where it would not be possible without them.

The top photo shows my current collection of manual garden tools. This does not include the BCS two-wheel tractor and implements that are stored in another area. I tend to collect garden tools like some folks collect guns – better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. One can never have too many garden tools. I even have a broad fork – a beast of a tool that I might even need some day. In future posts, we’ll look at some of the more interesting tools in my shed.

The second photo shows two extremes in tools. One item is a Rogue Field Hoe (reviewed here) – a great example of a high quality tool that should last a lifetime or more. The crude stick with a metal spike driven through it is not an ancient relic from an archaeological site or something sold to tourists. It is a hand hoe that is in routine use today in Africa. Specifically, this one was purchased at a village market in Sierra Leone, West Africa by missionaries there that I work with. This could correctly be called state of the art technology in most of Africa today. Yes, there are certainly tractors and modern tools in use there also; however, those are imported. When it comes to tools made by the locals, this pretty much says it all. There are some lessons to be learned in this.

Western hoe and African hoe – both manufactured about the same time, and both routinely used in their respective areas.

OK. What’s the point of this post? Ask yourself how you would produce enough food to feed yourself and your family if you had to work the soil to feed them. Stored food doesn’t count – that eventually runs out. Power equipment is great, but it doesn’t count either – fuel very quickly runs out. What you’re left with is muscle powered tools. Most of the world will reply with rolled eyes and a smirk. “It couldn’t happen here” they would say. Perhaps they are right. I certainly hope they are right; however, I’m not going to bet my family’s life on it. Do you?

2 Comments

  1. They say, “knowledge is power.” Certainly this is true. But here’s the thing, all knowledge is power. I can have the ability to do anything with computers, the internet and all things technical, but without basic survival skills even those that seem the most “primitive” my modern knowledge is useless. I’m actually like a sponge when it comes to old time know-how. It’s just as important now as it was back then.

  2. Stephen Clay McGehee

    May 29, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Somehow our society has latched onto the idea that new=good and old=obsolete. Not true. Those skills – and the tools required to use that knowledge efficiently – have just been set aside for a while. They are every bit as important even though most don’t realize it.

    I have no desire to return to a subsistence farming life. I’m quite happy running my software business from an air-conditioned office where I can step outside and work in the garden. I tend a garden and fruit trees, and raise chickens and ducks for pleasure. I love the agrarian life. I also understand that agrarianism is at the (pardon the pun) root of our very existence. Moving farther away from those agrarian roots is like moving farther out on a branch at the top of a very tall tree. At some point, when we get too far from the basic structure of that tree and the roots that support it, the branch is too weak to support us, and we fall. It’s a long way down.

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