The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

The Spork™: a review

 

Photo: Sporks in the sun

Photo: Sporks in the sun

“Every year you need to lightly fork over the herbaceous borders in spring. This loosens the soil and gives the plants a better chance to soak up any nutrients.”
My mum explained 18 years ago. I had just moved into the cottage and she had come to stay to help me the garden.

It was more of a field with long thin borders down the sides. There were infestations of ground elder on one side and a lot of buttercups on the other. I only had one trowel and one hand fork and as far as I remember we took turns to use the fork as it was far more efficient for clearing the weeds. Boring tedious work. 

With the new flower growing project I knew that I had to completely overhaul the herbaceous borders if I was to have enough space to beef up the flowers in the garden. I was dreading this project. Working over the kitchen garden in the spring is easy but when it comes to the established beds using small tools is essential and time consuming.

Then I discovered that my trowel and fork had disappeared. I had just ordered my De Wit fork and spade from Crocus. I didn’t want to buy yet another set from the local garden centre. During my research for the cheapest De Wit gardening tools online I had come across the Spork™ site. These tools have been designed by an English craftsman – Robert Todd and are now manufactured by De Wit.

De Wit wouldn’t bother to manufacture a poor tool. If the Spork™ was anything like their other tools it would be craftsman made and beautifully balanced.

There was a hand Spork™ on the site for little more than a decent hand fork and trowel. But the Spork™ had the added advantage of the unique cutting edge that would be perfect for breaking up the compacted soil of the herbaceous border and hand hoeing later in the season.

I browsed the range of tools and my eye fell on the Midi Spork™. This would be perfect for me but I just couldn’t afford it having spent so much on tools recently.

I was surprised by the length of the package when it arrived. Imagine my delight when I discovered– it was my hand Spork™ and the midi Spork™. Robert Todd had written a note – he liked our website and had sent the Midi Spork™ to test out and keep!

I rushed down the garden with the joy of a child who has been sent a surprise and much wanted present. Hoping against hope that the tool would be as good as it appeared. I only review things that I think that are worthwhile investment.

At 5’3” the Midi is perfect for my height (it’s the same height as my ladies De Wit fork and spade). The small head means that the tool is light to use and it can work in tight spaces. Yet this tool is a monster when it comes to digging over a border and makes quick work of breaking up great clods of earth. Two of our vegetable borders used to be a long rose walk and there are still a lot of roots in the soil. The Spork™ sliced through all but the plumpest ones with ease.

It ‘edges’ the grass paths well and the razor sharp edge digs down with the fluidity of a diver to remove long rooted weeds. In gentle mode it literally shakes and lifts buttercups out of the soil – leaving no roots behind. In spade mode the T handle allows this beautifully balanced tool to shift earth quickly and efficiently.

Then I tested out the hand Spork™. A dinky short handled version of the Midi. This is no potting trowel but perfect for weeding and forking over compacted soil. In planting mode it digs and breaks up clods of earth with ease. It’s a hand hoe, fork and trowel in one. Suddenly the fiddly hand forking of the huge herbaceous borders doesn’t seem daunting at all – with this little tool it will be fun.

If I could only afford to buy one really good craftsman made gardening tool it would be the Midi Spork™. At £35.00 it’s a bargain.

Like all De Wit tools the handles are oiled ash and the metal is burnished carbon steel. This is stronger than stainless steel but it does have to be oiled after use. I keep an oily rag in the tool shed and it’s very quick to do and means that tools are not lost or left lying about in the garden.

You can view the complete range of Spork™ tools here. As you are buying direct from the designer it’s the cheapest Spork™ outlet for the UK on the Internet.


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8 Comments

  1. M Bailie

    The full size Spork is available from http://www.chillingtontoolsonline.co.uk/spork-with-t-handle-p101 for £36.77 far cheaper than any other website I have come across. It’s under the ‘Crocodile’ name but made by DeWit.Also check out their Chillington Heavy duty hoes, I have one and they are brilliant and such good value!

  2. Fiona, thank you so much for putting me wise to the Spork! I requested (and got) one for Christmas and tried it for the first time today. What a magical tool! It cuts through the soil like through butter and is so light to use.

    I can see that my conventional fork is fast going to become redundant…

  3. Barbara

    I have just seen this post. I saw the hand spork on sale at the Hortus Botannicus (Botanic Garden) in Leyden last week. It looked as if it would be useful, but it was too heavy to be comfortable for me. I tried the hand cultivator which was perfect, but there was only one, and P bought it before I could.
    For a hand weeder, I like the Japanese tool my daughter has. It is like a narrow trowel, but one edge is sharp and the other is serrated towards the end. It looks odd but works brilliantly. I wish I had one!

  4. Danny

    All I can say is that I have never seen Fiona so enthused about any garden tools ever before. Expensive, yes, but I watched her hoeing and digging with these De Witt’s implements and her balance had changed completely. Her motion was markedly more fluid and more comfortable than when using standard tools.
    I guess it is the old story of “you get what you pay for”.

  5. My mind glazed over at the mention of ground elder. I’ve just spent two mornings (that’s when my back gives out) removing 8 buckets of ground elder from 1 square metre of border. It’s been sprayed 3 times with Roundup and, like Rasputin, it still lives! At this rate I’ll be finished in September.

  6. Joanna

    Congratulations on the new addition to your family. What a sweet surprise 🙂

  7. Paula

    Hi Fiona- I’ll check out the spork. How wonderful to get such a swell present!! I can imagine how you must have felt.

    I’ve read about folks keeping a bucket of sand into which a can of clean motor oil has been poured for dunking cleaned garden tools- I think in this day and age, I’d be more likely to use a cooking oil tho’.

  8. Toffeeapple

    Those tools sound wonderful, a true gift! Lucky you, I hope you continue to enjoy using them. I need one, so will do some saving to get one fairly soon.

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