The hoe does not receive from the farmer or gardener the respect to which it is entitled. It is kept lying idle very often until the land becomes foul with weeds that have robbed the land of much of its food and moisture (see p. 116) that will cost more to replace than half a dozen hoeings.

The hoe should be in constant use while the crops are growing. It is invaluable as a food producer, a weed killer, and a moisture conserver, and when used with regularity the cost of hoeing an acre of ground, even by hand, is not great, perhaps 8s. to 10s. or 12s. at the most. When the soil has become overrun with coarse weeds, and the surface is also baked, the cost of hoeing an acre may be anything from 20s. to 30s.

The material advantages to be derived from regular hoeing are:

1. The upper crust is kept in a finely powdered condition.

2. Weeds are unable to grow and rob the soil of food and water, nor the air of carbonic acid gas.

3. By pulverizing the soil, fresh mineral foods are liberated for the roots by the action of the weather.

4. In hot seasons the freshly moved soil acts as a mulching and prevents the moisture escaping (see p. 123).

5. The dews are absorbed at night and are soaked down to the upper rootlets with fresh food.

6. The use of the hoe, especially during the summer months, prevents many insect pests from nesting in the soil, and the chrysalides of others are brought to the surface for the benefit of the birds.

7. As large supplies of food are liberated by the hoe, there should be a corresponding saving in the chemical manure bill, and as water is conserved, there is not only a better crop, but it also comes to maturity more quickly owing to the accelerated growth.

Taking these advantages into consideration it would pay every market gardener to keep his ground regularly hoed from February or March to October, and the money spent on it would be refunded over and over again.