Once popular with fenland smallholders who had too much land for a conventional hoe but could not afford a horse-drawn plough, it is more suited to a large vegetable garden than a bijou flowerbed. It is made of Sheffield steel by a firm dating from 1730 and weighs five or six times as much as an ordinary hoe. This is partially offset by the way it is used, which keeps arms and spine straight.
You swing the Longhorn Hoe from side to side, a few inches at a time, while walking straight ahead, keeping the blade about half an inch below the surface. My early attempts kept delving deeper, but the hoe is very efficient when mastered. The price ( pounds 43) includes post and packing.
Burgon & Ball Ltd, La Plata Works, Holme Lane, Sheffield S6 4JY (0742 338262).
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