One thing all gardeners should know is that it is important to have a spade with a handle that is long enough. Too short a handle mean that you never straighten up whilst digging and backache becomes a certainty.
Alan Waterfall of Standwell Tools sent me one of his long handled spades to try out. Now I have a long handled fork that I find invaluable for harvesting potatoes but I’ve never had a long handled spade, so I was really interested in giving this a try.
The first thing I noticed was the stainless blade, nicely made with a curved top so making pressing down easy even if you’re wearing trainers rather than boots. I really can’t use spades with sharp tops and don’t understand how anyone else can either.
Stainless steel is tough and lightweight but really comes into its own when you’ve a sticky clay soil which just slides off the blade.
The wooden handle was lovely, solid ash slotting into a deep tube. You just know it’s a quality tool when you handle it. Bit like a car, you don’t need to be Clarkson to know a Rolls Royce is well made.
Using Long Handled Spade
You don’t use it in exactly the same way as a normal spade. The idea is to avoid the backache caused by bending. However, keep in mind that the handle can exert a lot of leverage and you could break it.
Cleverly, Alan shows you exactly how to use it efficiently and easily on his web site. It does take a few minutes to get used to the new way of digging but it’s surprisingly easy. The best thing is you avoid bending and if you suffer with a bad back, well worth giving a try.
Inspired by a bad back!
In fact it was a bad back that inspired the creation of the long pattern spade. Designer Alan Waterfall found himself reduced to digging his allotment on his knees thanks to a back injury. He discovered he could dig better than before with a long handled spade, as long as he remained upright and kept his back straight.
To dig standing upright requires a spade with a very long handle, conventional 48″ or 54″ handles just aren’t long enough. Also the large standard blade encouraged trying to lift too much soil in one go.
I’m not throwing away my old spade just yet. The long handled spade isn’t as good for me when it comes to moving soil into a barrow for example, but I’m fixing up hooks in the shed as the long handled spade is going to be a permanent useful tool.
I’d thoroughly recommend this spade to anyone but especially to those with back problems (like me). It’s excellent value for money as well
The long handle spade was available direct from the manufacturer, Standwell Tools in the UK. Sadly they seem to have gone out of business now.