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What Is a Stirrup Hoe and How Do You Use It?

A stirrup hoe is an essential weeding tool for any market gardener. The tool is a U-shaped blade that oscillates when you move it back and forth on the ground and is attached to a long wooden handle. They come in three different sizes, either with the 3 ¼-inch (8 cm), 5-inch (12.5 cm) or a 7-inch (17.75 cm) blade. The perk of having the different sized blades is that you can use them to weed efficiently all different crops and row spacings throughout your garden.

Why Use the Stirrup Hoe

The stirrup hoe is a truly essential and affordable tool.  As you know, there are so many ways to do the same job, and some ways are more efficient than others. The stirrup hoe is multipurpose in that it can weed your beds regardless of how well rooted the weeds are and on any type of soil. It is super sturdy! Many hoe’s, even those we recommend, are much more suited to their particular jobs, whereas this instrument is well-rounded in its use. 

When and How to Use the Stirrup Hoe

The stirrup hoe is used for weeding between rows. /Credit: Alex Chabot
The stirrup hoe is used for weeding between rows. /Credit: Alex Chabot

The stirrup hoe is used for weeding between rows, hence the awesome different sizes it comes in. As we already said, stirrup hoes come in three different sizes, either with the 3 ¼-inch (8 cm), 5-inch (12.5 cm) or a 7-inch (17.75 cm) blade. The idea is that since you can choose the exact right spacing with your blade, you are getting as close as possible to the plants without touching them. We also use the stirrup hoe if we want to aerate the soil during a dry period of the year. An important fact to note is that there is no need to push the blade deeply into the soil; it will simply destroy your soil structure for no reason, potentially bring up weed seeds and will not cut the weeds off from their roots, canceling out the reason for your weeding in the first place. You only need the blade to work the top inch of the soil and make sure the whole bed surface has been cultivated. Want to learn more about what hoe would be the best for a task? We have created a guide to help you choose the best hoe for all weeding jobs. Also, no matter which hoe you choose, remember that it is important to take good care of your farming tools to get the most out of your investment

Stirrup Hoe Weaknesses and Alternatives

Stirrup hoes in the tool shed. /Credit: Alex Chabot
Stirrup hoes in the tool shed. /Credit: Alex Chabot

You will have a frustrating time using the stirrup hoe on any bed where you’ve installed drip irrigation. Because of its sharp blade, it can easily cut into the drip tape leaving you many leaks to fix, which is when you might choose to alternately use the wire weeder. Additionally, even though the stirrup hoe is ergonomically designed and is ergonomic, it requires a little more effort than its collinear hoe counterpart, as well as the fact that the collinear hoe can get closer to the plants without causing injury

Need more Info?

If you need more resources to learn the best practices for using market gardening tools in bio-intensive gardening, please join us at the Market Gardener Masterclass. The Market Gardener Masterclass is a comprehensive online course that documents all the steps of successful market garden production. Our method has been developed based on over 20 years of experience in organic market gardening and is designed to allow you to deliver consistent results that will guarantee the success of your farm.