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Gardening Hand Tools for Harvesting – Mother Earth News

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Grape crusher design.

ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS TEAM

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Grape crusher.

PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS TEAM

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Bean sheller design.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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Bean slicer.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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Bean slicer design.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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Bean sheller.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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Corn cutter.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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Corn cutter design.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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Beginning at this time of year, many MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff and readers begin to reflect on a common concern: what needs to be To do with the bounty of the garden. Now the harvest the fruits (and veggies) of summer’s work aren’t the problem…but in fact, preparing those bountiful crops for the pantry can be taxing for even the most diligent home gardener.

With this task in mind, a few people were more than a little delighted when they discovered that Mr. Hollen Orr, an Ecovillage neighbor and a man of the land in his own right, had regularly used – and was ready to share the designs for – a number of soft tech gardening hand tools that almost anyone could assemble.

For the most part, each of the four tools involves simple wood building techniques, and none require sophisticated tools. Also be aware that we’ve embellished Mr. Orr’s Utility Originals to make them a bit more pleasing to the eye, but that “embellishment” doesn’t necessarily make gardening hand tools job nothing better. If you want to use nails instead of screws in places, go for it (and an application of carpenter’s glue would increase the strength of the wood joints).

So if beans, corn, or grapes are on your garden’s charts, you’ll definitely be able to find a use for Hollen’s helpers come harvest time (unless, of course, you Enjoy prepare your crops the old-fashioned way).

grape crusher

Squeezing grapes is not an easy task without equipment, as anyone who has done it by hand will tell you. Luckily, that first step in preparing the fruit of the vine for jam, jelly, or fermentation is simply breaking the skins off the berries to produce a rich sheath and juice pulp, and this simple mechanism can handle that job well. .

It’s just a three-sided tub with a one-piece bottom and top support. A 7 3/4″ drum, mounted on a 3/4″ dowel shaft, spins in two slots cut into the sides of the tub, and removable wedge-shaped blocks hold the shaft in place. A homemade hardwood crank clamped to one end of the axle is used to turn the drum.

This cylinder does nothing more than grab the luscious orbs and smash them between his ribs and the bottom of the tub. Slats are 8″ lengths of 3/8″ dowels glued – parallel and about 1/8″ apart – between two wooden end discs. With the hollow drum installed in its sockets, there should be about 1/8″ of space between it and the bottom surface of the tub… just enough to allow juice and skins to pass through and slide into a bucket of water. hold when the machine is tilted slightly forward.

bean sheller

Given the tedious process of shelling beans (and the prolificacy of pole varieties), it’s sometimes hard to believe that a good crop can be completely shelled before the start of a new season! Even with friends and neighbors lending a hand, peeling healthy “hangers” is a time-consuming chore…but hardly worth buying an expensive tool.

This rustic pod wringer works on the same principle as an old washing machine mangle, but you don’t need an antique washer to build it… because the cylinders are made from a cut rolling pin in two ! Likewise, the gear mechanism – which would be far too expensive to consider if purchased as a new assembly – was removed from the oil pump in a 250 cubic inch Chevy six-cylinder engine.

The working part of the machine is mounted in a wooden frame which is fixed to a 2 X 8 base. A homemade crank, attached to the main shaft, turns the lower roller, which is pinned to the axle. At the same time an oil pump gear, also locked to the shaft, transfers the motion to an intermediate set of idler gears bolted through one side of the wooden frame…these, in turn, make turn a fourth sprocket connected to the upper shaft and roller assembly.

In order for the reels to attract the pods, they must spin in opposite directions, and the four little gears described above guarantee that they will. However, to get four cogs of the two that make up the innards of the salvaged pump, you’ll need to cut each one to half its thickness with a hacksaw. Luckily, those metal gears are a little soft, so what might seem like an impossible task is actually a task that just requires a little patience, a sharp blade, and a vice.

Small boxes positioned on the “entrance” and “exit” sides of the rollers collect the dried seeds and pod shells respectively. A plastic shield, placed on top of the mangle frame, keeps stray bits from slipping out of the bins, and a layer of textured tape wrapped around the bottom roller gives this drum the grip it needs to pull the toughest shells. stubborn through.

bean slicer

Green or snap beans are some of the most popular homemade vegetables…but if you have a few bushels to set up, you’ll spend a lot of time at the cutting board before you can freeze or can succulent legumes. Instead, why not use this simple tabletop slicer so you can cut handles in one pass? It’s easy to build from what you have of common pine and a few spare kitchen knives, and the recessed blade arrangement pretty much eliminates the risk of accidental injury, as fingers are never exposed to a sharp edge. .

The sides of the tool are nothing more than a pair of shaped 2 X 4s, one glued to the other. The cutting chamber walls serve to join the sides and are also fashioned from short sections of board. Saw the kerfs, cut through the bottom edges of these walls, hold the five 4″ to 1″ paring knives, and 1 X mounted flush to the bottom surface of the tool holds the knives in place. (A small strip of trim also keeps them from sliding the handles first.)

A piston made up of a trio of sandwiched boards fits freely inside the cutting chamber and presses the grains against the blades, and a stopper built into its handle prevents the block from being pushed further than necessary.

If you don’t care how your slicer looks, you won’t need to shape the side boards and you can even nail the pieces together. The one we made, however, has been embellished a bit and uses 1/2″ dowels, wood screws, brads, and glue as fasteners.

corn cutter

Removing the kernels from a corn cob is only a pleasure when the vegetable has just been picked and you have it warm, buttery and between your teeth. Outside of this tasty scenario, removing those stubborn feathers from the cob for canning or cooking can be a tedious chore, no matter how sharp your knife.

If you’re okay with it, you might want to take a look at this “forehand” cutter that’s made from various household plumbing parts and metal pipes or conduit. It allows you to use leverage to force the full ear past a sharpened sink waste pipe that is mounted to the base of the tool with a 1 1/4″ floor flange. As the cob passes through the center of the cutting tube, the beans are sliced ​​to be collected in the tube bin…and the no-nibble cap falls through an opening in the platform and into a dustbin. waiting. (Stuck cobs can be knocked through the pipe with a short length of 1″ dowel.)

We made our cutter using plastic pipes and PVC cement, but there’s no saying you can’t use black iron – or whatever else you might have on hand – to get the job done. By the way, the edge of the drain pipe can be beveled quickly on a grinder (metal is thin, that’s so easy!) or worked more slowly with a thin hand file.

Posted Jul 1, 1984