Gardening by Hand

HoeMy favorite passage so far from Harlan Hubbard’s Payne Hollow: Life on the Fringe of Society:

I have found no one who sympathizes with my insistence on gardening by hand, without the use of any machine. So many times have the advantages of a garden tractor or tiller been pointed out to me that I half believe the argument myself and am apologetic and evasive in my replies. That is my weakness. My strength returns when I am alone in the garden, working with some beloved tool, the birds whistling overhead. Even on a sultry July morning, when not a breath of air stirs, when the sun’s heat is magnified by the encircling trees, and weeds are sprouting everywhere, not even then could I welcome one of those nondescript, unlovable gadgets, brightly painted and streamlined, which make an intolerable noise and smell bad. They get the work done, you say? I say they are expensive and insidiously destructive. I will get the work done in my own way. Save time? The best use of time is to enjoy it, as I do when working in peaceful silence. I am surprised that anyone with a love for growing things will take up with artificial contrivances that come between him and nature, which break the spell woven by all the delicate garden influences, the songs of birds and insects, the sound of rustling leaves, the smell of freshly turned soil, the direct contact with the earth. What is he in the garden for?

Hubbard is wrong, however, in one point. It is not true that he has found no one who sympathizes with his insistence on gardening by hand. If no one else, today, forty years after the publication of his book, he has found me.


For other posts on gardening solely with hand tools, see:

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Megan says:

    Yay!!! I love this post! I started our garden with the Lasagna Gardening method and have never tilled with a tiller or done anything except by the rok of my own hands! People look at me like I am a nut when I tell them I do not till and I do not use harsh chemicals or commercial fertilizers. The rest of this week will find me diggin my weeds by hand and then planting the garden with my wonderful three-year old helper!

    1. I love that you mention your pint-sized helper! That’s an advantage of hand gardening I hadn’t thought of: that it provides a safer environment for the involvement of little people. 🙂

  2. marvegal says:

    Agreed! It is the only I have garden since I was eight. Hand tools and weeding by hand or using my children (child labor) to help weed. Being close to the land and yes, listening to the birds! Enjoy!

    1. Oh, I will! I am out to the garden now to hand-water!

  3. M-R says:

    If I had a garden; and if I were 30 years younger; and if I didn’t have a cactus lower back … why, then I’d be out there with you, hoeing away in peace and contentment, Sharon …

    1. I’m sure you would! And a great time we’d have of it, too!

  4. bkpyett says:

    Nothing like the therapy of pulling weeds and growing things! Great blog!

    1. Agreed! Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Actually had time to read some blogs today. Great quotation.

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