Every season I like to try some new tools for the field to improve life on the farm in some way. This year I bought a new tool and I’ve borrowed a couple to try out before investing in them. So far I have mixed reviews on everything, which is half the fun of trying new things.
The tool that I purchased for the farm is called a tine rake. I’d looked at tine weeders that go behind the tractor before, but I found one that is a hand tool. The great thing about tine weeders is that you can drag it over small plants or transplants that you just put in and it won’t pull them out. The weeder will pull out all the small baby weeds. I used this tool over the onions and leeks a couple times and it is really nice for running through a bed quickly. It is an odd feeling to be able to drag the rake blindly over your entire bed and not worry about pulling out good plants. The drawback to this tool is that you have to time when you go through just right or you’ll be too late and the weeds will be too big or if you are too early you may pull out the plants you want. It was worth the 30 dollars I spent on it, but I haven’t been able to use it lately as we have fallen behind on everything and haven’t been able to use this tool in time.
The next tool I tried was one that I borrowed from another farm for the potatoes. It is a hiller that goes behind the tractor. You can pull it behind the tractor and hill up the soil around the plants. This can help reduce weeds and potatoes produce better when hilled up. I think we had a little bit of bad luck with the rain since we’ve planted the potatoes because they are not growing as well as I would like. This has made the weeds growing right next to the potatoes grow better. With the potato plants being smaller the hiller didn’t work as well as I hoped. This tool does have potential, but again the timing has to be right for it to work well. I am not sure if I would buy my own or just keep borrowing it when I need it. The jury is still out on this one.
The final tool I tried out is a subsoiler. I’ve been wanting to try one of these for a while and I finally found one to borrow. This tool is used to break up the soil deep into the ground. Most implements only work the top 6 inches of soil. which after a while can create a layer of hard soil where the deepest implement can penetrate. This tool will break that up allowing plants to easily drop their roots down deeper. I also helps with drainage problems by letting the water go deeper into the ground easier. I have used it on a few areas this past month so I cannot say if it has been helpful or not. I will borrow it again in a month or two when I am cleaning out the onion field because that area is a little compact and holds too much water. I hope that next year that part of the field will look a lot better after using this tool. They are not too expensive so if I like what I see I should just buy one.
These are the fun new tools I’ve been able to try. There are many more that I’d like to try some day, but they are either hard to borrow or just too expensive at the moment. I do hope to invest in more tools in the future as they help reduce labor costs and can improve soil and life in general on the farm.