When is a spade not a spade?

When it’s a Sukoppu”.

“Eh?” I hear you ask silently, “What the ‘eck is one of those?”

A Sukoppu is neither spade nor shovel. It’s, well, what it is.

Most gardeners will have a selection of spades and shovels – digging, border, snow, rubble; maybe some ordinary steel and some stainless steel. There’s a bit more science to the selection of a spade or shovel. Weight, balance, length of shaft and what the shaft is made of all make a difference. Smaller or weaker people tend to go for border spades which are smaller and lighter than digging ones.

The Sukoppu is different. They say when the Japanese put their minds to making something they do it well and they’ve certainly done that here. It’s all steel but, at a mere 1.8kg, it’s remarkably light (lighter than my border spade anyway) and so puts a good digging spade within the capabilities of someone who might be unable to manage the weight of a normal one.

Yet it’s surprisingly strong (I’ve used mine to lever out some tree roots, a job for which I’d normally use a wrecking bar, without feeling any worry about it bending or breaking). It cuts through the ground with little effort, shifting stones out of its way and slicing through roots up to (so far) ¾ of an inch thick as it they were paper.

Being all steel, the shaft is welded to the blade and the handle is welded to the shaft, making for a really strong construction. And it’s a unique gold colour – I guess this will eventually wear off but despite hours of heavy use, mine’s not even showing scratches yet so it seems quite a resilient coating. The colour adds to its gift potential for a golden wedding anniversary maybe or when a keen gardener’s retiring from your office?

Why not pop along to the Niwaki web site and have a look at the Sukoppu and maybe, while you’re there, at the other Japanese stuff on sale. I’ll be writing about my new secateurs soon.

Note: I write about products now and then because I choose to; because I’m moved to say I like something or loathe it, not because someone pays me or asks me. So the above is my honest, unsolicited opinion.