I’m always looking for easier ways to garden and here’s one: a garden tool that will pick up fallen nuts and fruits rapidly, easily and, even better, without you having to bend over!
I’ve seen it sold under several names (nut and fruit gatherer, nut gatherer, nut broom, Nut Wizard, etc.) and it is certainly easy enough to use. Simply use the handle to roll the oval gathering basket back and forth over the ground, pressing lightly as you go. The basket’s flexible wires pull open when it hits any fruits or nuts in the sector and in they pop. As it rolls, it picks up more and more objects, even in fairly tall grass. In fact, I found it even able to pry loose and pick up fruits and nuts half sunk into the ground.
When it’s full, simply hold it over a pail or other recipient and spread the wires apart to release the basket’s contents.
We use it to pick up the thousands of crabapples that fall from our very prolific crabapple tree each fall. When they fall in flower beds, I just leave them be and let them decompose on the spot. On the other hand, when crabapples litter the path or lawn, it becomes very slippery and possibly dangerous. We used to spend a lot of time raking crabapples into piles and getting down on our knees to pick them up. Now, we just run the nut gatherer and it’s all done in an instant.
My wife calls this tool “the eighth wonder of the world”, so easy is it to use! And my stepdaughter makes delicious jellies with the crabapples we harvest!
The model we purchased is, according to the instructions, designed to pick up objects from 3/8 inch to 2 inches (1 to 5 cm) in diameter. That would include crabapples, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, pecans, ginkgo fruits, acorns, sweet gum fruit, olives… and golf balls. Actually, it will pick up much larger objects than it claims to: I tried it on larger objects and had no trouble picking up full-size apples, pears, pine cones and tennis balls. So, it’s good for objects at least 3.5 inches (9 cm)—the size of the oranges I tested it on—in diameter. However, with larger fruits, the basket does fill up more quickly. Not to worry, though: there are models with bigger baskets specially designed to pick up larger objects.
Note that the rolling basket will not pick up soft fruit like tomatoes and plums without damaging them, nor is it very good with seriously rotten apples: it tends to mush them up and break them into pieces, although it does admittedly pick them up. To gather soft fruits, you will still probably have to get down on your knees.
You ought to be able to find a nut and fruit gatherer in larger garden centers or in big box stores. If not, you can order one at Lee Valley Tools (Canada and USA), Nut Wizard (USA) and Garden Weasel (USA). In Europe, look for it on Amazon and on eBay. Lee Valley delivered ours in only two days!