This is particularly true when working on poor, marginal land like we have in Connemara, its pretty unforgiving.
But I have found some fantastic tool's available in Mayo and elsewhere in the country.
Chillington Hoes- I really don't know how these are not more widely used in Ireland, but they are available now - a list of stockists can be seen at this link.
Ridging hoe on left, heavy duty hoe on right.
The tools I bought were a ridging hoe and a heavy duty hoe, or azada.
I decided to convert last years auxiliary potato ridge into a bed for two permacrops - Jerusalem Artichoke and Sea Kale.
This was tricky as I would have to terrace in a bed. I really felt this could even require the hire of a mini digger, but at gardenplansireland.com I saw an advert for the Chillington's, so I made contact with Nigel and picked them up.
After a brief try with it, I knew the tool would save me time, effort and money - that easy.
The whole process to clear tangled ground, clear rocks, open new ground, fertilise, plant, cover and bank up took me about 3 hours, and with a shovel, spade and pick I think it would have taken at least a days work.
I got to say, for a kitchen garden, particularly here in the west, this has become an invaluable tool.
So, the setup was at the edge of the garden to terrace in a new permacrop - Jerusalem Artichoke being the main one.
Firstly I had to open up the trench, which was under heavy, tangled grass and weeds.
The heavy duty ho took care of this with little effort, despite the stones and rocks. In the picture below it gives you an idea of how much stone comes out of a small trench.
Note the amount of stone on left.
The next step was to lay a bed of permanent nutrients beneath the new crop.
This was made up using seaweed and well rotted manure
I used the larger rocks to shoe up the sides of the bed, and it also will allow me to terrace out the next level should I wish.
As I said last year, the building of the pathway using stone clears the soil and provides a great base.
As the pine needles and ash dry out, it becomes an unpleasant environment for slugs and suppresses weeds.
It also allowed me to start to make a start on opening up two new beds that are on ground with lot of large roots, this has also been remarkably quick compared to the usual spade work.
As a review, all I can say is that the heavy duty hoe from Chillington is highly recommended