Tool Time

DIG THIS — If you haven't tried using the Korean hand tool known as the ho-mi (Korean for "little spear"), you'll be surprised by its versatility, durability and efficiency. The tool's design has been refined over hundreds of years by generations of Asian farmers and gardeners. The ho-mi resembles an ancient plow stuck on the end of a handle. In the garden, you can use it to dig planting holes, transplant bulbs and seedlings, loosen soil around plants, dig weeds, seal furrows, level ground and topdress plants. In fact, its versatility will likely render some of the tools in your garage superfluous. Most models are so impressively strong, they'll outlast most other hand implements. The tool can be comfortably used for hours without fatigue, making it particularly useful for older or arthritic gardeners. What's more, once you're used to the scooping, scoring and digging you can do, other trowels will seem clunky by comparison. If you plan to spend any amount of time on your knees in the garden this growing season, be sure to hold a ho-mi. If you plan on doing your gardening while standing, the ho-mi also comes in a long-handled version that looks much like a hoe. Also, a variety of knock-offs abound, so check your quality local retailer for Asian hand tools if you'd like a closer look first.

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