When should you use your garden trowel?

On this page, I’m going to explain when to use the grelinette in your garden and vegetable patch.

The main place to use the grelinette is in the vegetable garden, where annual vegetables are grown. But when should you use the grelinette? These fast-growing vegetables need fertile, loose soil for their roots to develop properly. So they are mainly used in spring. But some gardeners also use it in summer in their beds to limit watering. Others use it at any time to plough the ground before sowing a lawn.

Before we talk about the best time to use a grelinette, it’s important to talk about the soil.

Soil that is too wet should never be worked. You have to wait for it to dry out. If it’s too wet, you risk doing more harm than good by compacting the blocks. What’s more, the soil will stick to the grelinette’s teeth, making handling more difficult.

On the other hand, in very dry soil (as in the video below), it will be difficult to push the tool in. The resistance of the soil may even overcome an ecological spade bought cheaply in a garden centre. If your grelinette is not of good quality, its tines are bound to bend. And it will be difficult to crumble the clods anyway.

So, having seen when not to use a grelinette, here are the times when you can use it in the vegetable garden.

Above all, you need to choose the right moment, with soil that is neither too wet nor too dry.

Use the grelinette for a light autumn pass to allow water to infiltrate

In my vegetable garden, I make a light pass in the autumn. This allows water to infiltrate and air to penetrate my compact soil. By breaking up any surface crust, I break the waterproof layer that would allow water to run off. But you mustn’t turn the soil over too much at this point. This will lead to mineralization. In other words, it makes nutrients available. If the soil is worked too much in the autumn, there is a risk that it will sink.

And it’s also when the rain returns in autumn that the earthworms are most active. They digest the abundant organic matter in the soil to create fertile soil and stable humus. The most important thing to do after this light sprinkling is to mulch or sow a green manure crop to nourish the soil’s biology and prepare it for the following season in spring.

While you’re waiting for the right moment to use the grelinette, you can maintain it by rubbing linseed oil into the handles and teeth to keep it in good condition over the years.
Admire the tapered teeth of the “La PLaisible” grelinette, which are perfect and strong for penetrating hard-packed soil.

The time when the grelinette is most commonly used is spring. We make a more intensive use of it when we need to dig up the garden to release nutrients for the plants we’re going to grow.

Yes, spring is when I work the soil. I return to the land when it’s a bit dry after the heavy winter rains. Aeration of the soil in spring brings up the mineral elements so that they can be quickly assimilated by the plants. They must be present in sufficient quantity to prevent growth failure due to a lack of nitrogen.

This gives the plants time to complete their growth cycle before a cold autumn, which is fast approaching in some regions. You can improve the yield and speed of growth of vegetables by adding an organic fertiliser such as Pro Bio Terre. In other regions with milder climates, a second yielding crop will be planted, or an intercrop that improves the soil by sowing a green manure.

Now that you know when to grelinate, if you want to order a quality grelinette, don’t wait.

So if you want to order a quality grelinette, there’s a season for that too. Of course, as everyone wants them in spring and at Christmas, it’s best to plan ahead and buy your greliner in advance, against the season. That way, you can avoid the queues that form every year among blacksmiths who only have two hands.

So don’t delay, order your French-made La PLaisible grelinette today.

I hope I’ve made myself clear. But if you’d like more information about when to use your grelinette in the garden, don’t hesitate to ask your question as a comment on this page. I’ll be happy to answer it.

Using a grelinette. How do I make the right gesture?

What’s the most effective way to use a grelinette? How to use this ecological gardening tool compatible with permaculture. Here’s the right way to use a grelinette and the right gesture to protect the soil and the gardener’s back.

This use of the grelinette helps to loosen soil and release nutrients for plants. For gardeners, effortless beading with this ergonomic garden tool becomes a pleasure. Even clay soils that are difficult to turn over are quickly ready for cultivation. Just make sure you choose a sturdy, forged tool with teeth.

You’ll find more details on our page: why use a grelinette.

[Video] How to use a grelinette in the vegetable garden?

This eco-friendly spading fork is very easy to use. Because it’s symmetrical, it doesn’t strain the back at all. Yet it’s fast, efficient and almost effortless. In the following video tutorial, I’ll show you how to spade with a grelinette. No more shovels or ladles, which are difficult to plough and turn over. Here’s how to use this magical tool to aerate the soil with ease. A genuine hand-operated tiller that replaces the power hoe.

Here’s how to get the most out of your mulch.

  1. If you put down manure, straw, dead leaves or any other mulch in the autumn, much of this organic matter has already been digested by the soil’s micro-organisms. You can remove the remains with a rake and use them as mulch after tilling the soil. There’s no need to bury it.
  2. You plant the tines by holding the ash handles with your arms stretched forward. This allows the tines of the grelinette to tilt as far back as possible. Pressing the tool straight down allows you to return to the soil as quickly as possible without having to shake.
  3. The arms are brought towards the body, as far back as possible, to maximize the angle of rotation for maximum work with minimum effort. This was André Grelin’s major innovation. By allowing the tool to extend beyond the body axis with the handles at the back, soil cultivation is unrivalled in its efficiency. This oscillation of the tool allows the soil to be lifted up and put down again as gently as possible, without turning it over.
  4. There’s no need to lift the spading fork to move backwards. Simply drag the tool backwards by 10 to 20 centimetres, depending on the work required.
  5. Then repeat the movement with your arms stretched forward. No more backache when preparing and loosening the soil.
  6. A simple pass with a hook, claw or rake will allow you to finish crumbling the soil surface before planting or sowing. To simplify this task, you can also make a perpendicular pass with your grelinette.

But do you know when to use your grelinette?

Beware of bad habits with this grelinette


In many videos, I see users lifting the grelinette to plant it, when it’s so simple to place the feet on the horizontal frame to help the tines penetrate the soil. If one foot isn’t enough because the soil is heavy, you can use all your weight and both feet. If need be, small oscillating movements from right to left will allow the tines to penetrate to the desired depth.

Another stubborn habit, and in my opinion counter-productive, is to shake your sleeves to crumble and break up clods of soil. The risk of this habit is to upset the different layers of soil in the same way as digging. It’s the same fault as ploughing. The effect on your plot will be immediate: weed seeds will rise to the light! A wonderful false seedbed that needs to be weeded. There’s also the risk of exposing earthworms to the light.

To loosen clay soils, you need a quality grelinette.


If you don’t already own a grelinette. I would strongly advise you to invest in a quality hardened steel tool to prepare your garden soil. In fact, with clay soil, there’s a great risk of quickly bending one of your tool’s teeth. Heavy soils are compact and exert an incredible force of resistance to effort. The forks of your grelinette must be forged to prepare the ground properly before sowing a lawn or cultivating your vegetable garden.

My advice for a good grelinette

  • Curved tines for leverage and shock absorption when working with stones. The number of tines depends on your strength and your soil.
  • Good fork diameter (14mm) to prevent twisting.
  • A blacksmith-refined tip for easy entry into heavy soil.
  • An ash wood handle, as this is the most resistant if properly fitted in the direction of the wood grain in the socket. Maintain with linseed oil for longer life.