What are pitchforks used for?

The fork: A gardener’s essential tool

Reach for the wrong fork at a dinner party, and the worst that might befall you is a snooty glance. The wrong fork in the garden, on the other hand, makes for less-efficient work.

A garden fork might bring to mind the pitchfork held by the dour farmer in the painting “American Gothic.” But that tool, though emblematic of farm life, has a special use: pitching loose hay onto a haystack or wagon, not something you do every day. Home gardeners rely on the spading fork, which I consider indispensable.

A spading fork’s four tines are much heavier than those of a pitchfork. If well-made, it’s a rugged tool, built to do battle with soil — and the rocks it contains — without bending. It pierces the ground more easily than would a shovel or a spade and is great for pre-loosening soil that you can then lift out with a shovel, and for breaking up heavy soil clumps so that amendments can be added. The stubborn, matted roots of meadow grasses yield to it and can then be yanked intact. Dandelions are pulled out unbroken if a spading fork has probed around them. The digging fork, a similar tool with flattened tines, is the best one for prying out root crops such as carrots.

A manure fork resembles a spading fork, but its tines are thinner and curved for scooping. It may have as few as three tines or as many as 12. Though it’s meant for cleaning out stalls and other farm chores, gardeners value it for lifting compost materials when they’re turning a heap, or for shifting mulch from pile to wheelbarrow to garden bed. More rugged than a pitchfork, it is nevertheless a lifting-and-pitching tool. Confusingly, the name is often used interchangeably with bedding fork, ensilage fork, scoop fork, stall fork and compost fork.

Best to shop for this tool with the task in mind: Hay mulch, or compost materials that have not decomposed much, can be moved with a few tines, widely spaced. More-crumbly compost, and mulches such as shredded bark and wood chips, require the type with many tines, spaced close together, so the material does not fall through. (The manure fork was designed to scoop lumps of solid manure from even finer material such as wood shavings, letting that bedding fall back into the stall.)

From left, a spading fork, digging fork, manure fork and broadfork. (Barbara Damrosch/BARBARA DAMROSCH)

The broadfork is a large, heavy tool made to cultivate and aerate soil in place. Its heft is a good thing, because gravity does most of the work. Holding its two handles upright, you press down on the crossbar with your foot, allowing the long tines to sink into the ground. Pulling the handles toward you causes the tines to lift and loosen the soil and open up air channels, a movement so effective that it can replace tilling. And you won’t even work up a sweat.

You can do the same thing with your trusty spading fork, which is also a good soil aerator. But it will take many times longer to do it, and if your garden is large, a broadfork might well be the right one to reach for.

Damrosch is a freelance writer and the author of “The Garden Primer.”

Tip of the week

After planting vegetable and annual transplants, soak them thoroughly and then water with diluted fish emulsion. Minimize transplant shock by planting on a cloudy or rainy day, or in the early evening. Avoid sunny, windy days when planting.

— Adrian Higgins

Pitchfork

Warning!The documentation presented on this page is obsolete and is no longer updated. You can find the actual information here.

APPLICATION

Pitchfork is a drawing tool that is popular in technical analysis. There are three basic components of a pitchfork. There is a center median line (trend line) as well as two more sets of lines above and below that median line. The additional lines are set a specified number of standard deviations away from the median.

A pitchfork is created by first drawing a trend line between two extreme points. A third point is then set either above or below the second point depending on the analyst’s desired pitchfork location. Keep in mind that the default pitchfork setting calls for two additional sets of lines to be drawn. Tradingview allows for up to 9 sets of lines to be added. If additional lines are added, the user can save this setup as a template for later use.

The basic idea behind the use of a pitchfork is that it essentially creates a type of trend channel. A trend is considered active as long as price stays within the Pitchfork channel. Reversals occur when price breaks out of a Pitchfork channel.

HOW TO USE IN TRADINGVIEW

  1. Navigate to https://www.tradingview.com/
  2. On the landing page, enter a symbol and click “Launch Chart”
  3. Drawing Tools are located along the left hand side of the chart. Select the Drawing Tool that you would like to add to your chart.
  4. You can access the Formatting Window by right clicking on the Drawing Tools in the chart itself and selecting “Format”.

Style

Median

Can change the color of the median line as well as its thickness and style. The option to set a one color for all lines is also available.

Additional Lines

Can toggle the visibility of additional lines. Can also change their color, thickness and line style. The option to set a one color for all lines is also available.

Background

Can toggle the visibility of background colors as well as change their opacity.

Coordinates

Price 1

Allows for the precise placement of the pitchfork’s first point (Price 1) using a bar number and price.

Price 2

Allows for the precise placement of the pitchfork’s second point (Price 2) using a bar number and price.

Price 3

Allows for the precise placement of the pitchfork’s third point (Price 3) using a bar number and price.

Five essential garden tools

Gardeners know that you need sun, water, soil, seeds, and plants to make a garden grow. Plus, you also need a few garden tools.

There are many different types of tools available to use in the garden. A newbie gardener often has a hard time deciding what to get. While the type of gardening you’ll be doing will influence your decision, I think there are certain tools that are essential for large and small gardens, no matter what you are growing.

Here are my top five gardening tools that every gardener should have.

1. Long-handled, three-pronged cultivator
If there was one tool I couldn’t do without, it’s a three-pronged cultivator. This tool combines the digging ability of a large-bladed hoe with the weeding ability of a small-bladed hoe. I can weed, dig trenches, plant transplants, hill potatoes, and even scratch my back with this implement (just kidding). I like the long-handled version because there’s less strain on my back, and it’s easier to smooth a raised bed or dig a long furrow using a longer handle.

2. Long-handled shovel
For digging holes and moving mulch, soil, and soil amendments, there’s nothing like a shovel. The best all-purpose type is the long-handled, round-headed, metal-blade shovel with a slightly pointed tip. The handles can be wooden or metal. The long handle makes it easier to dig holes for trees and shrubs and move soil. Short-handled versions are best for working in tight places, such as trenches. Look for shovels with a good-sized step, enabling you to push it into the soil more easily.

3. Hand trowel
Most garden tasks in small gardens and containers can be managed with a hand trowel. Look for ergonomically designed models, which often have a soft comfort grip, are well balanced, and have a sturdy metal blade. They are perfect for planting, smoothing the tops of small beds, and digging up tough weeds, such as dandelions.

4. Hand pruners
If you have any shrubs, roses, and woody perennials in the yard, then hand pruners are a must. Choose bypass pruners over the anvil types. Bypass pruner blades cut by scissoring past each other. They make for a cleaner and more efficient cut. Good hand pruners can cut branches up to 1/2 inch in diameter. Purchase a type that fits your hand size and that’s comfortable to use, especially if you have many plants to prune.

5. Garden cart
If you have a 1/4-acre sized yard or larger, you’ll need some form of a garden cart or wheelbarrow to move plants and materials. I like garden carts because the two wheels give the cart more stability than the traditional wheelbarrow. You can load gardening tools, soil, fertilizer, plants, mulch, and weeds in the cart and, because of the balance, moving the load isn’t difficult. Plus, they’re great for sitting down in if you need a rest after a hard bit of digging.

For more tips and garden information, visit www.garden.org.

— Courtesy of Family Features

(Charlie Nardozzi is the senior horticulturist and spokesperson for the National Gardening Association.)

Gardening Patio, Lawn & Garden Joseph Bentley Traditional Garden Tools Stainless Steel Hand Fork

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In the garden, long-handled forks bear great responsibility: It’s their job to break up compacted soil, spread a layer of straw mulch around the roots of the roses, and aerate the compost. Buy a high-quality tool to last a lifetime. Here are our 10 favorite garden forks:

Above: From British toolmaker Burgon & Ball, a Digging Fork with an ash handle and a comfortable Y grip is £39.95.

Above: Lighter in weight than a four-tine fork, a three-tine Digging Fork from Sneeboer has flat tines to make it easier to slice through compacted soil; for prices and dealers, see Sneeboer.

Above: Copper tools enrich soil with trace elements as you work, do not rust, and last longer than iron. From Austrian toolmaker PKS, an Antares Copper Border Fork is €156.

A large Bonfire Fork is useful for pitching hay or leaves; £18 from Garden Trading.

Above: A steel Digging Fork with four rust-proof painted tines is “simply indestructible” and is $83.50 from Garrett Wade.

Above: From British horticultural tool company Joseph Bentley (est. 1895), a Long-Handle Fork has rolled tines and small tread on the top of the fork so you can brace a foot for leverage; $49.95 from Williams-Sonoma.

Above: A hand-forged Stainless Steel Digging Fork has an extra long neck and an ash handle; €147 from Manufactum.

Above: Handmade in northern England since 1780, a Clarington Forge Garden Fork comes with a lifetime guarantee; available in two handle lengths (28 inches and 32 inches, for gardeners taller than 5 foot 5 inches) and at prices that range from $85 to $90 depending on size at The Tool Merchants.

Above: Forged from a single piece of metal, a Digging Fork by British toolmakers Spear & Jackson has no welds or joints and is $69.99 from Grow Organic.

Above: A Compost Fork from DeWit Tools has sharp, thin, curved tines to and measures 45 inches long: $49.35 from Garden Tool Company.

For more, see:

  • 5 Favorites: The Dirt on Broadforks.
  • Shopper’s Diary: Vintage Tools from Garden & Wood.
  • Browse our Garden Tools posts for A Garden Arsenal to Fight WeedsThe Gardenista 100: Editors’ Picks Best Hand Tools.

Pitchforks started out as a tool designed to pitch hay and typically consisted of two or three metal tines connected to a long wooden shaft. Farmers would use these forks to pitch hay into wagons or other carriages. The famous painting American Gothic showcases the classic design of the pitchfork. But over time, different types and formats of forks were designed to accomplish various other tasks on the farm and in the garden.

Additional tines were added, and different point designs were implemented. The shaft length elongated, or shortened, depending on the task at hand. Now, there are several different pitchfork designs on the market, and it can be a bit confusing to find the right fork for your needs.

Forks that had more than 3 tines were not technically called pitchforks, but rather just forks, manure forks, etc. These were seen as distinct from the pitchfork, which was really only designed for pitching hay. Over time, virtually all garden forks became pitchforks, as the “pitch” portion of the name became separated from the action of pitching hay.

Different Types of Pitchforks

There are several different types of pitchforks available, each with different (and frequently overlapping) characteristics. Common types of pitchforks include garden forks, spading and digging forks, border forks, potato forks, compost forks, manure forks, ensilage forks, and manure forks.

In this article, we’ll look at the various different types of pitchforks commonly found, and point you to a few of our favorite forks. Of course, there is a great deal of overlap in these categories, but we’ve broken down the most common types of forks, and classified them.

Garden Fork

The garden fork is a pitchfork designed primarily around loosening soil. If you have compact clay soil, or otherwise hardpan soil that water does not easily access, piercing it with a garden fork will loosen the soil and allow water to enter underground. The water will nourish grass and plants and will improve the overall quality of the soil.

Typically a garden fork will have four fairly thick tines and sharp points. For more information on garden forks, see our article on the Best Heavy Duty Garden Forks.

Spading Fork or Digging Fork

A spading fork, also known as a digging fork, is typically constructed of four heavy duty tines and a steel shaft. Their tines are often, but not always, triangular shaped, and typically aren’t as pointy as a heavy duty garden fork’s tines. Spading forks are made for loosening soil, and for moving earth, mulch, hay, and other materials.

These forks are quite similar to Heavy Duty Garden Forks, and to some degree are interchangeable.

Border Fork

Border forks, also known as Lady Forks, are smaller-scale versions of heavy-duty garden forks with shorter shafts. These are designed for use in tighter spaces and for those with shorter statures. If you’re working in an interior area where there’s not much room to swing a long-shafted fork around, or in raised beds where you’re in somewhat tight quarters, a border fork is a good choice. Or if you don’t really need the long shaft of a spading or garden fork because your arms aren’t long enough to really wield it, a border fork is a great choice!

The compact design can be quite efficient in terms of storage and use, so many use a border fork as their primary heavy duty garden fork.

Potato Fork

Most Potato Forks are pretty similar to digging forks: they are designed to dig potatoes and root vegetables out of the ground, and therefore overlap quite significantly with other digging forks. However, there are other potato fork designs that are crafted out of the idea that blunt tines will do less damage to the potatoes as they’re being dug out.

There are also curve-fork potato fork designs that are reminiscent of hoes.

Compost Fork

Compost forks tend to have four to five long, thin tines that serve to pick up and stir compost placed inside a compost heap or compost bin such as the Geobin. That said, many compost forks are on the light-weight side, and often gardeners simply use a heavy duty garden fork to work their compost.

The thinner tines of a manure fork or compost fork mean that the compost doesn’t get caught up on the tines as frequently as it would with a garden fork. This means less time cleaning off the fork, and more time spent actually moving your compost around!

If you are a hobby composter, it’s probably fine to stick with your garden fork for compost turning. But if you churn through a sizable amount of compost each season, and spend a good deal of time turning it, it’s almost certianly wise to pick up a compost fork.

Manure Fork

A manure fork usually has five or more tines, and often the tines are spread out in a bit of a fan pattern. Like the compost fork, these tines are usually pretty thin, and are curved to enable users to scoop manure.

Compost forks and manure forks have a good deal of overlap in terms of shape and size.

Ensilage Fork

EnSilage forks are a different beast than most of the other forks on our list. They tend to have a large number of thin tines, sometimes 10 or more on a fork. They are designed for moving grass and animal feed (silage) inside a silo.

They are somewhat of a specialty fork, and are used specifically for silage and occasionally manure.

Broad Fork

A broad fork is unique among the forks listed here in that it has two handles and very widely-spaced tines. It has a completely different look than all of the other forks on our list, and a different function.

The goal here is to aerate the soil in place, in a similar fashion to the heavy duty garden fork. To use, hold the two handles up, and stomp down on the shaft to plunge the tines into the soil. Fortunately, gravity does most of the work.

By tilting and pulling the tines out of the ground, you loosen the soil, aerating it and allowing water to get to where it needs to go.

Of course, this can be accomplished with a typical heavy duty garden fork, but will take significantly more time and effort to complete.

Conclusion

This list showcases most of the major categories of garden forks. As mentioned above, there is a great deal of overlap across the forks. With a few exceptions, you can use any fork to accomplish any task, it’s just that certain forks are more effective at accomplishing certain tasks.

If you’re looking for a single fork that will do it all, and one you don’t figure you’ll be using more than a few times per month, your best bet is to stick with a good quality spading or heavy-duty garden fork. These are likely the most universal design.

If you want to zoom in on more specific tasks, gathering a multitude of forks will make your gardening life a bit easier.

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