An unusual-looking contraption with an equally odd-sounding name, the origins of the word “hod” are uncertain; however, I think it’s a translation for the term “workhorse.” Not necessarily a prize-winning beauty, but it reliably gets the job done day in, day out.
(I have to admit, upon unpacking my first shipment of garden hods it wasn’t love at first sight. My wife was far less enthusiastic. “Did you order these for the store?” she asked in disbelief. Happily, I can say we both underestimated the appeal of this functional item.)
A little history reveals that a more primitive form of today’s garden hod was used across Europe centuries ago to haul just about anything: bricks, mortar, laundry, fish, you name it. When a modified version of the early hod made its way over to America, it proved to be the ideal vessel to carry, measure, and wash the mucky sand off of fresh-dug clams and mussels.
Fast forward to 2001, when the humble hod went through a transformation to become what is now a must-have for anyone who gardens. Created by Pike Bartlett, an avid gardener and owner of Maine Garden Products, he often found himself in trouble with his wife for leaving the kitchen sink soiled and gritty with dirt from the garden harvest.
Leave it to Yankee ingenuity to solve the problem. Pike devised a hod out of the same cage-like material that his company uses to make lobster traps. The industrial-strength wire mesh is armored with a super-tough vinyl coating that can withstand the harsh marine environment. This was the perfect solution to his problem. The wire mesh formed a strainer that allowed him to rinse off his produce with the garden hose, keeping the dirt outside where it belongs.
So has a garden hod found its way into my house, you ask? Yes, I am happy to report that the Misses has taking a liking to this “man basket,” as she likes to call it. We actually have two of them, the Original Garden Hod (the larger size) and the Lil Garden Hod. We use the big one for outside chores. I like it for holding pulled weeds; a few good shakes and the root dirt falls through to the ground.
Our smaller hod is put to work all around the house. It started out as the catchall for incoming mail to prevent clutter from engulfing one end of the kitchen counter. It held a shipment of oranges we received from friends who escaped to Florida last winter (lucky them!). Most recently it’s been serving as a tray for plants we started from seeds. It makes it easy to carry them outside on warm sunny days and allows excess water to drain right through the bottom onto the deck.
Founder and Proprietor, New England Everyday Goods & Farm Market, Jaffrey, NH.
Just a stone’s throw down the road from The Old Farmer’s Almanac headquarters, Jim and his wife Susan operate a sprawling retail store that specializes in useful and unusual products with interesting stories behind them.