Don’t Waste Your Money On High-Wheel Hoes!

Eliot Coleman is a well known and widely respected gardener who has written some excellent books. In The New Organic Grower (pictured above) he says this about modern wheel hoe designs (like the Planet Whizbang) compared to the old wheel hoe designs (like the Planet Jr):
” In recent years improvements have been made to this reliable tool. The heavy metal wheel of the old model, with its crude bushing, has been replaced by a lightweight rubber wheel with ball bearings. The original cultivating knives have been replaced by a far more efficient oscillating stirrup hoe, which has a hinged action and cuts on both the forward and backward strokes. When combined, these improvements result in the most efficient implement yet designed for extensive garden cultivation.
Mr. Coleman also gives his opinion of large-wheel wheel hoes (like shown in the picture at the bottom of this page) vs small-wheel wheel hoes (like the Planet Whizbang). Here is what Coleman says on this subject:
”The truth of the matter is that the design of the large-diameter wheel hoe is faulty. Human power is limited and it shouldn’t be wasted. In a well-designed tool, the force exerted by the operator is transferred directly to the working part. In the case of a wheel hoe, the working part is the soil-engaging tool, not the wheel. The low-wheel design transfers force much more efficiently that the high-wheel model.”
”The small-wheel model obviously allows the most efficient and direct transfer of force from the operator to the hoeing tool. Because the force is direct, a much higher percentage of the effort is applied to the cultivating blade. A further disadvantage of the high-wheel hoe is that a forward force is being used to manipulate a rear-mounted implement, thus causing torsional (twisting) forces to come into play that put even more strain on the operator. In sum, the low-wheel hoe is more accurate (easier to direct), less tiring (no force is wasted), and less cumbersome to use.”
I can relate to everything Eliot Coleman says about low-wheel vs high-wheel hoes because when I was just a teenager (30+ years ago) I got an old high-wheel hoe with a tine cultivator attachment. I outfitted it with some pine handles and used the tool quite a bit. I remember it being awkward to work with. But, years later, when I bought and used a low-wheel hoe with an oscillating stirrup blade, I had some perspective. I knew immediately that the low-wheel unit was superior to the high-wheel in every respect. Don’t waste your time and your money with those high-wheel hoes!

Here’s a current picture of that old high-wheel cultivator I had when I was a kid: