PHOTO: Vegetais/Vegetables by Victor Camilo/CC BY-ND 2.0
May 29, 2012

One of the joys of my job as a farm-machinery writer is getting to try out tools. It’s especially fun when the tool turns out to do the job it was promoted to do. Recently I tried a set of tools made by a small company here in Minnesota with very positive results—even when a problem occurred.

The VersaTill Garden Grooming System has as its basic element a common 48-inch handle designed to mount tool heads at either end. The ability to mount various tool heads to the same handle is only one aspect of the system. What I found equally interesting was the four faces to the handle, rather than the traditional round handle. Slightly rounded off, the handle is easy to grasp and gives greater control than a round handle does. While using it, I felt like I had more torque or turning power when I wanted to twist out a weed or mix up a garden bed surface.

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At first I questioned having a tool head on either end of the handle. In practice, I found the second tool head balanced the first and gave me additional leverage when I grasped it and the end of the handle. Being able to mount the tool to either side means that as a right-handed person, I can mount a tool head so it faces away from my body and my left-handed wife can do the same, simply swapping the tool to the other side.

The tool heads vary from a spade-like Big Vee to a narrow Bird Beak. A rake-like Bear Claw shaft failed on me, creating a “service opportunity.” When contacted, the company immediately offered to ship me a new one. That’s service you don’t experience every day.

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