Have you ever walked 250 feet uphill to the asparagus patch with a bucket full of hand tools, only to realize after you get there that the weeds have gotten a lot worse than you imagined? So you trudge back down the hill and carry the garden fork back up the 250 feet, only to realize that that fork is too long, it will root up the asparagus as well as the weeds, and so you trudge back down with the big fork and trudge back up with the border fork, and then ten minutes later you realize there’s nettles in there, and you don’t have your gloves, so you trudge back down the 250 feet and get your gloves, and about halfway back up the hill you think it would really be smart to bring up the watering can, too, because after pulling all those weeds the asparagus would appreciate being watered. And then after the bed is all cleaned up, you realize if you had a leaf rake and a wheelbarrow it would be a lot easier to gather up all those weeds you just pulled and bring them to the compost pile, which means another trip back down the hill, in which you forget to bring down the tools you’re done with, which means another trip back up the hill to bring them down. Has that ever happened to you? Well, there have been many times when I’ve had to go back for another tool, but this particular instance drove me to muttering, “There has got to be a better way.”
I found the solution to my problem at Lee Valley, though I see now that they also sell it at Amazon. I got this Deluxe Garden Cart way back in the spring, but hesitated blogging about it until I was sure it held up and worked as expected. Our relationship got off to a rocky start. Despite assigning several handy young men in succession to the assembling of the cart, they all threw their hands up in exasperation. A careful analysis of the difficulty revealed that the screw holes in the bottom tool pan were drilled in the wrong location, so that it was impossible to complete step 3 as directed. (I suspect the Amazon reviewer N. oswald ran into this problem.) I called the the manufacturer’s toll free number and after explaining the problem, the customer service person responded, “Oh, I know exactly what you’re talking about!” Ahem. While I am always relieved when customer support comprehends my English, I feel that if my problem with their product is a familiar one, then the quality control must somehow be lacking. I mean, if the holes on the bottom pan are consistently coming out misaligned, shouldn’t someone be doing something about it, besides cheerfully sending the customer a second bottom pan, which hopefully won’t have the same problem as the first one?
The second bottom pan was drilled correctly, but it took its sweet time getting here, because they only ship it the slow way for free, and I was too cheap to pay for it to come faster. And then, after about a week’s worth of use, the wheel fell off, because the push cap holding the axle in place fell off. The push cap came off because the axle had to be removed from the first bottom pan so that it could be inserted into the replacement bottom pan. The push cap is made to conform to the end of the axle by a friction fit, and after being taken off the axle, it didn’t fit frictionally enough to stay on. They replaced the push cap cheerfully, too, after customer support came back from their vacation. Sigh. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get this thing working.
Once the push cap came and secured the axle, the cart worked just fine. I stocked it with all the tools I thought I might need, and then added the ones I found myself making a second trip for. After using the cart for a while, I found I rarely needed to make a second trip for a tool, though I still had to go back for the wheel barrow. You see, they provide a frame to hold a bag, but they don’t provide the bag, and none of the lawn and leaf bags I tried would stay put, especially not after I started pulling the cart again. Also, once your bag is bulging, the tool pocket won’t be quite as accessible. Still, I will probably spring for the lawn and leaf bag next spring, unless I can figure out a way to cobble one from a feed bag.
The only real difficulty comes when you try to transport long-handled tools. If you put them on both sides of the cart and pull the handle from the middle, they bang into you when you tilt the cart to pull it. (See above.) What you have to do is put all the long-handled tools on one side of the cart, and then pull the handle from all the way on the opposite side. (See right.) I am five foot, two inches at my tallest, and I don’t know if this would be less or more of a problem for a taller person. Also, if you’re serious about carrying things on the load plate, you’ll need to invest in some bungee cords to hold your load in place. None of the promotional pictures would lead you to think it is necessary, but nothing I’ve placed on that load plate stays put without help.
I kept the tools in the cart for the entire gardening season, and it definitely made “getting started” go more quickly. Also, I could see at a glance if a tool was missing and could track it down before it really went missing. Problem solved: No more trips back to fetch tools–but I still have to pull the weeds myself.
Update: I emailed this review to Lee Valley, and while they are glad I got my problem resolved, they had this to say: “Generally, we prefer that when one of our customers experiences a problem with a product they purchased from us, that they contact us directly. We can usually help resolve the issue immediately and it is only very rarely that we will tell the customer to contact the manufacturer directly.” If the instruction sheet included with the cart hadn’t specified contacting the manufacturer for parts, I surely would have gone to Lee Valley first. They have given excellent service in the past, often overnighting replacements that have failed to work properly. You can bet I won’t forget this if there ever is a next time.