The Secret of the Hoe

What do you really need to be a gardener?

You need a place to garden, a plot of land. It could be as small as a four inch clay pot filled with dirt or big enough to be measured in acres.

You need some plants. You might start out with a handful of seeds or few passalong plants from another gardener, or maybe you are fortunate enough to have a truckload of nursery grown plants.

You need some tools. It’s helpful to have basic tools to dig, to cultivate, to prune, to rake, to water, to hoe.

Anyone can buy places, plants and tools and be ready to garden, but to really become a gardener you need more than what money can buy.

You need a desire to garden. With that desire comes a willingness to get your hands in the dirt, to sweat, to toil to exhaustion. And you need patience, a willingness to wait for seeds to sprout, winters (or hot summers) to end, flowers to bloom, trees to grow.

Depending on where you garden, what you grow, how you toil, you can get away without having some of the tools. Good tools do make it easier to garden, but a gardener will figure out how to garden without all of the tools as long as they have that place and some plants and the desire.

And that’s the secret of the hoe…

It’s not the hoe that makes a garden, it’s the gardener.

The hoe just makes it easier, as does a shovel, a rake, or good pruners.

But without them, gardeners will figure out ways to garden. They can't be stopped. They’ll still toil and sweat and plant and make their gardens. And those gardens won’t be just collections of plants, those gardens will be personal spaces that reflect back the nature of the gardener.

Because, it’s not the hoe that makes a garden, it’s the gardener.


  1. Ah, Carol!

    For lack of a hoe, I have willingly and happily dug in the soil with my bare fingernails. Thus, the lousy manicure.

    So although a hoe is a useful implement, the gardener is the key. Very good point.

    Gardening Examiner

  2. Oh so true! I was just reading to my daughter tonight the part of "The Secret Garden" where Mary Lennox first enters the garden and finds plants sprouting. She realizes that they would grow better if they weren't being choked on grass. She picks up a sharp piece of wood and begins to weed. In that moment she becomes a gardener. Yes, it is a desire to grow things and to help things grow that make a person a gardener. It's only after we become gardeners that we, like Mary Lennox, find that we want good tools to help us care for our gardens.

  3. What a great beginning to your book! Really...if I read that I wouldn't be able to put the book down until I finished the hoel thing. I think you need to find a publisher!

  4. Absolutely. I agree with my whole heart. Good tools make the job easier, but the love comes from within. Speaking of, I'll have my book club post up tonight. I'm working on it right now.~~Dee

  5. Well said Carol. It's the desire and the passion that make a gardener a gardener.

  6. Gardening certainly does require patience. I planted some foxglove today that I grew from seed during the winter. I won't see the flowers until next year.
    I've enjoyed the cooler, cloudy days this week and have been embracing weeding. It is amazing how quickly the weeds grow.

  7. I agree with you, Carol. Tools were created to make our job easier. The desire can make people keep alive.

  8. What a great post. Made me think of the times when we've grabbed sticks or the bamboo poles we use for supports to weed, scratch out rows or give the kabotski to nasty bugs.

  9. Yes, a good hoe is just the thing at this time of year for getting on top of those pesky weeds!

  10. Lovely blog & post! I also am an Indiana gardener!


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