Let us now praise an unsung hero of the garden: the humble garden cart.
My cart has played a fundamental role in the pleasures my garden has offered to eyes, nose and mouth.
Let's first be clear on just what implement I'm talking about. A garden cart is not a wheelbarrow. Instead of having a single, squat tire, a garden cart has a large body boxed in by wood, sometimes aluminum, flanked by two, heavy-duty bicycle-size tires.
The tires' size and the fact that they're centered along the wooden bed make a garden cart useful in a different way than a wheelbarrow. This cart lets you move a much heavier load — up to 400 pounds if it's a high-quality cart. That's because the large wheels move smoothly over bumps, and carry most of the weight.
With a garden cart, you mostly just pull the weight, in contrast to a wheelbarrow, which requires you to lift and push. My cart has been indispensable in moving rocks over the years, as I built about a hundred feet of stone walls.
The large, high-walled bed of the cart also makes it possible to haul around oodles of bulky materials. A friend praises his cart for being able to move, in one trip, four large bales of hay from his storage area to his horses.
My garden thanks the cart for the enormous quantities of organic materials hauled over to it. Some, such as compost, are heavy, and others, such as leaves, are bulky. Quantities of organic materials are what make great soils, and great soils are the foundation of great gardens, whether vegetable gardens, traditional flower gardens or stately or fruitful trees.
Year after year for almost two decades, my cart has hauled the mowings from a one-acre hayfield to be turned into compost or laid around trees and berries as mulch. Year after year, large piles of wood chips have been moved, one cart load at a time, from my driveway, where arborists conveniently dump truckloads of chips, back to my garden for mulch or for paths.
Autumn leaves, bagged and discarded by neighbors, likewise have bumped along in the wooden bed to their eventual home beneath trees or in the compost pile. The cart has occasionally moved plants and soil. Regularly, usually at this time of year, the cart rolls finished compost from compost bins over to beds to be put down as an inch-thick icing.
This year brought renewed appreciation for my garden cart because the wooden bed had finally reached such a state of disrepair. Every shovelful of compost was also taking along layers of soon-disappearing plywood. After two days of measuring and dismantling, I replaced the old plywood with new.
No need to become annoyed at a garden cart when it reaches a state of disrepair. After all, mine, for example, had by that time hauled tons and tons of materials. It had stood the abuse of spending most of its life outdoors, exposed to rain, snow, heat and cold.
In summary, any garden would be improved by a garden cart, and be sure to get a high-quality one. Look especially for sturdy wheels and a large bed of high-quality plywood.