Cheap Tools, False Economy

Earlier this week I arrived at the plot to do a bit more digging.  I’ve found that turning over the soil in clumps, leaving it for a few days before removing weeds, to be the easiest method.

This approach has 2 benefits – firstly, I can swap between tasks throughout the day – a bit of turning for a while, then some weeding.  It breaks up the monotony somewhat, as well as providing respite for some muscles.  Secondly, you can ‘visibly’ see your progress easier – which I find quite important on a large plot.  It can be quite soul destroying to spend 6 hours there and see little visible difference.

Within minutes of starting, I removed the fork from the soil and was greeted with this;

‘Heavy Duty’ they claim!

I’ll be honest and say this wasn’t the most expensive tool I’ve bought, by any means.  In fact, it’s one of the cheapest.  Garden Forks are something I generally use sparingly when a plot is ‘done’ – usually only to harvest things like potatoes and carrots.  I follow the ‘no dig’ method, so once the ground is prepared initially, I don’t do much digging at all.

With that in mind, when I took on the plot at the new site, I didn’t want to spend a fortune on something I only planned to use fully for a short period.  This particular fork was £7.99.  You can get cheaper (I’ve seen them for as little as £2.99 in some of the ‘big shed’ stores!).  It’s a ‘known’ brand, though perhaps not one I’d automatically associate with garden tools.

Although marketed as ‘Heavy Duty’, it clearly is anything but – I’m not even working with clay soil here!

Buy Once, Buy Well

So, I now need to purchase a new fork to finish the job – and this time I’ll spend a little more to make sure it’s up to the job.  Had I done so in the first place, I’d of course be better off now.

The other aspect to this of course is the question of what do I do with the wonky fork now?  How many sub-par cheap tools are being sent to landfill in the incorrect assumption we’ll save a few quid?  I’m clearly as much to blame as anyone else, and it reminds me of a phrase my grandparents used;

“Buy once, buy well”

I should remind myself of that more often.

Lee Bailey

Organic Allotmenteer, RHS Student, Husband, Father & Programmer

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