Saturday, May 3, 2008

Garden Bloggers Hoe Down: "Mr. Handyman's Triumph"

Thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for sponsoring the Garden Bloggers Hoe Down today. If there is anything you ever wanted to know about hoes, but were afraid to ask, Carol has your answer.

I must admit I was hesitant to post anything today; unlike Carol's extensive collection, I have only two hoes--an old hoe and a new hoe. However, Carol was gracious enough to extend the invitation to other members of the tool family, and we have a new addition I'm so excited about that I want to share with you. Here are the three members of our immediate family: Ms. Hoe, Mr. Rake, and Grandpa Spading Fork.

And now, they are proud to announce the arrival of a new little one:

Baby Mantis
Arrival Date: 3:35 PM May 2
Weight: app. 20 lbs.

Yes, the whole family is thrilled with the new arrival. And before anyone sputters that Baby Mantis doesn't really belong in the family and that I am breaking the rules here, let me explain. I have been wanting a tiller for several years and finally decided to try this small Mantis. A larger tiller might be too hard for me to handle, and if I have to depend on my husband or ask my son to come over to run it for me, it defeats the whole purpose of having one. I wanted something that I could manuever and could easily move from one bed to another. I'll let you know how it works out.

As for the rest of the hoe family, I think Ms. Hoe, in particular, will be relieved. I am ashamed to say I sometimes mistreat her, especially in late July and August when the weeds and clumping grass want to take over the vegetable garden. I have been known to overwork her mercilessly in the pursuit of a weed-free garden; little Mantis should take this burden away from her, I hope.

The Mantis arrived yesterday in a surprisingly small box, meaning "some assembly required." I was almost ready to spend an extra $30 to have it shipped fully assembled, but that would have meant an extra week's wait for arrival. Besides, the sales rep on the phone assured me the only people who ordered it fully assembled were usually the elderly or those with physical disabilities. Well, I certainly didn't want her to think I fell into either of those categories, and I didn't want to wait an extra week to get it. The only glitch was how long it might take my husband, a.k.a. Mr. Procrastinator, to put it together.

To my surprise, I found Mr. P in the garage this morning with a nearly assembled tiller. Usually "Mr. Handyman," as he is also laughingly referred to by my children, has "extra" pieces left over when assembling something. Sure enough, he looked up at me when I expressed my amazed gratitude and said, "Well, I've got most of it together, but I don't know where this tire is supposed to go." I found the instructions--which he hadn't even looked at--and discovered to my relief that the tire is part of an extra attachment. So, except for a tightening of the nuts and bolts, I think the Mantis is ready to go!

Since I have already broken the rules for the Hoedown, I might as well add a distant cousin who is another important member of my tool family. This is a little rechargeable grass shears that I wouldn't do without. Now you might say, but this is for grass, not for gardening! No, that's where you are wrong--it is invaluable to some of my gardening. I have flowers planted around some large landscape rocks, around semi-eyesores in the backyard (a cistern, for example), and in a couple areas with no edging. Mr. P is also Mr. Mowing Machine (and I use all these names with affection) who believes the less trimming he has to do the better. And in all fairness to him, we do have a lot of yard to mow--at least six acres--so the more he can trim with his large garden tractor, the better. But it does mean that often times a stray plant gets decapitated if it falls too close to the mower blade. After this happened several times, I negotiated a deal with him--I've pointed out areas of flowers which he avoids as long as I keep the grass trimmed around them.

And so, while the grass shearer is actually used to trim the grass near my flowerbeds, it indirectly saves many a flower from its demise.

I do hope you have enjoyed meeting my little "family"; thanks again, Carol, for sponsoring today's posts.


  1. That Mantis, it's just a super fancy hoe, right? I should have included my new Troy Bilt cultivator which I got this spring and hope to try out real soon.

    I hope Ms. Hoe doesn't get too lazy this summer, with all that work being doing by the Mantis. Or jealous of all the attention that the Mantis will get. Hoe's can be very sensitive.

    Thanks for joining in,
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  2. I love baby Mantis! Too bad he doesn't look like either parent. I am sure he will be loved anyway. Kudos to Mr. Handyman for getting it together without extra parts and in such quick time. Did he give you any funny looks about posing the hoe family? :-)

  3. What a delightful little family you have! I'm particulary intrigued by the distant cousin. I have a fence that I think is crying out for such a tool.

    I'll have to check back and see how the mantis pans out.

    thanks for dropping in to see my hoes.

  4. A good team for work. I'm partial to garden spades myself!

  5. Fabulous Rose so funny....I have really enjoyed these posts that you have all done.
    The rechargeable grass shears are fantastic. I use mine all the time to keep some places really neat and tidy. Wouldn't be without them.
    Great post.

  6. Rose,

    I love your newest family member! Let us know how he turns out;)


  7. Congratulations on the arrival of your new baby Mantis!! Mr. P did you proud, no procrastination AND all the bits in the right place!
    Great post, had me laughing (and sympathising as I have a Mr. P too!).

  8. I am just green that you have a Mantis. I am sure the rest of your Hoe family is jealous too. I bet you will love it. A friend of mine has one and just loves it.

    I have a huge tiller that is good when it works. It is at teh shop right now. I want a cutting garden this year but it might not happen if I can't have my tiller soon.

    Unfortunately I am usually the one that puts things together. ha... and my poor DB comes to the rescue often. After all he reads the instructions. Ha..

  9. Hi Rose,

    Thanks for visiting my Hoedown post - yours is hilarious - loved the "extra pieces" part of the assembling the mantis story.

    The soil in our small yard has so many small and medium rocks that a tiller might have lost or bent tines pretty quickly - I pulled out a 5-gallon bucket of fist-sized rocks just planting one rosebush!

    Your enjoyable blog is now bookmarked. Illinois is our original home and I see we have something in common...3 of my 4 children graduated from U of I, too and we wore a path from our Chicago suburb to Champ/Urbana over the years.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose


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