Thursday, June 08, 2006

I Can't Live Without. . . My Oriental Garden Tool!

Ho-Mi, E-Z Digger, Korean Hand Cultivator: It's Wonderful Whatever You Call It

I often mention Pinetree Garden Seeds in Maine, as I have been happily buying from them for over 10 years. The quality of their seeds is excellent, and their prices are very reasonable. They specialize in vegetable seeds for the home gardener, and most seed packets cost less than a dollar. In their catalog they state, "Since we deal only with home gardeners, we don't worry about shipping or machine harvesting characteristics. What we do worry about is flavor, space, efficiency, beauty, and uniqueness." Sounds good to me.

While I have purchased everything from cutting celery seeds to strawberry plants from their informative print catalog (they also have an online catalog), by far the best items I have ordered were in the Garden and Kitchen Products sections. These things actually changed my life.

One of these things is my Oriental Garden Tool. Since buying mine a dozen years ago, I have seen them for sale in various places with various names, but Pinetree still simply calls it an Oriental Garden Tool (catalog item # H151) and their price of $13.95 can't be beat. (For purchases up to $19.99, shipping is only $3.75.)

This centuries-old ingenious device does it all: weeding, opening and closing furrows, digging holes for seedlings. It is pretty much the only hand tool I use in the garden. One year I planted, hilled up, and harvested 150 feet of potatoes with it. It conforms to your hand and range of motion so easily that other trowels suddenly feel clumsy. I misplaced mine once, and I felt so helpless without it that I nearly had a replacement shipped to me by overnight delivery. It is that wonderful.

Pinetree say it's "an all time favorite tool of ours. The blade is 7 inches long and convex, like that of a plow with a sharp point broadening to a width of 3 inches. Terrific for digging because the sharp point cuts deep, but the smooth surface of the blade gently pushes the soil to the surface to trench rows. Great for digging holes for plants and bulbs. Hand-forged and designed for right-handed people."

It does many of the same jobs that a hoe does, but you can do them while kneeling. So if back or sciatic problems prevent you from bending over and using a hoe, this is most definitely the tool for you.

Words really don't do justice to my Oriental Garden Tool. On top of everything else, it is exactly one foot long, so you can also use it to do all your measuring while you're planting. I highly recommend one for any type of gardener. It would also make a great gift for all your gardening friends and family members.

Click here and here and here for a few other things I can't live without.

© Copyright, the foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres—and sometimes it's the littlest things, like a simple tool, that can make the biggest difference in the garden.


  1. I'm going to buy one for my husband who prides himself on owning a collection of the best garden tools around. He doesn't have one of these through. And a big thank you for promoting Pinetree Garden Seeds from my state of Maine.

    Felice, Portland, Maine

  2. I want one, but I'm on garden gadget probation!

  3. my favorite tool is the hori knife. i use it pretty much the same way as you use this tool.

    however, that does look like it would be handy for hoeing those blasted weeds!

  4. I'm new to your wonderful journal and I just discovered this post, so forgive me if my comments are past-due.

    That's a traditional Korean gardening tool called a "ho mi" and it is indeed a brilliant thing. I swear that I only really need three garden tools: my spade, my Felco pruners, and my trusty ho mi. Everything else is just taking up space in the garage.

  5. I had one of these tools and it was my absolute favorite. The wooden handle came off and although I've tried several methods to glue it back on, it's never stayed on right. I still have it though.

    I also owned the hori knife that stella mentioned which I used quite differently and lost somewhere in the garden.

    Now my favorite tool is an old pick-ax looking implement (but small with a short handle--definitely for hand weeding) that I picked up at an estate sale for $1.

  6. redpepperlady (MN)August 03, 2009 10:28 AM

    I have used this oriental tool for about 10 years and now I've lost it. thanks for telling me where to get a new one!

  7. I have one of these! Bought it at an Asian grocery for about six dollars...loved it so much I bought two more as gifts. It's my favorite gardening tool, next to my rubber rake and nice hand pruners.


March 2013 update: My apologies for the inconvenience - I know word verification is a pain - but I've had to turn it on to help stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I've been getting every day. Thanks for your understanding.

Welcome to! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love to hear about what's going on in your own garden. I know, too, that other readers also delight in reading about your garden successes, failures, helpful tips, and lessons learned. Feel free to leave comments on older posts!

I try my best to answer all questions, but sometimes it takes me a few days to get to them. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your visits to my kitchen garden!