A hoe is invaluable, and should be one of the hardest worked tools in the tool shed!
But which one do you buy?
Again hoes like most garden tools, have been designed for their purpose, meaning, the choice will be dependant on your needs.
The Dutch hoe:
This Dee shaped hoe has a flat blade for working just below the soil surface.
Once severed, the weeds are left to dry and wither in the sun, then later raked off and deposited in the compost heap.
This type of hoe is also useful for keeping surface soil loose, thus reducing evaporation of moisture from the soil, i.e. the flat blade tends to leave a dusty top to the soil, thus serving to bottle up the moisture below.
This loosening also makes it easier for air, warmth and rain to penetrate down to the root system.
It can also be used for forming drills for seed sowing and planting.
The Draw hoe:
Once the seeds are sown, the soil can be drawn back to cover the seed.
It can be used to earth earth up potatoes.
It can also useful for scutching out annual weeds.
Is similar in size and shape to a draw hoe but instead of a solid blade it has three tines / prongs, this gives it the appearance of a hand fork that has been bent at right angles to the handle.
This is a useful tool for working between rows of plants as it allows the user to loosen the soil, and rake back the debris to the edge of the bed without walking on the bed.
This hoe can be used in a simlar manner to the dutch hoe.
Due to its Delta winged shaped blade with its sharpened back and front edges, it can cut in both a forward or backwords motion, as opposed to the Dutch hoes forward motion only
This increased strength allows the user to dig deeper trenches and remove heavier weed infestations from overgrown areas.
The pick headed version is designed to loosen compacted soil as necessary.
In terms of purchasing any of the above, it might be best to consider the multi-purpose hoe, and a mattock for their versatility.
The mattock will do both heavy and light work (with care) as opposed to the draw hoe only being suited to light work, and the multi-purpose hoe cuts in two directions.