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194. Diggit Garden Tools | Elena Shemeta | Seattle, WA

Elena Shemeta Diggit Garden Tools
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Diggit, Inc. was born out of a mother and son collaboration between Elena and Paul Shemeta of the Seattle area. This northwest duo’s first gardening tool hit the market in 1997 at Seattle’s Fremont Sunday Market. It had a black handle and the advertising was a piece of cardboard with magic marker that said “weeding tool $5.00”. They sold out of all 10 diggit tools they’d brought to the market that day. While Paul was tasked with the refinement of the tool and the fabrication process, he credits Elena for the creation of Diggit, Inc. It was Elena who was responsible for the initial concept and the drive to get it to market.

Elena has fine arts background and an imagination that just won’t quit. So, when she got fed up with the mess that a weeding claw was making of her soil (only to leave virulent weed root fragments behind) it was only natural that Elena would go in search of a better tool. After rummaging around her cluttered cellar for some time, her tool of choice was a foot-long tent stake. When she began weeding with the tent stake, to her surprise, it worked phenomenally. It uprooted the weeds efficiently and cleanly, roots and all.

After using the tent stake for some time, Elena realized how useful this could be as a weeding tool for other gardeners. When Elena convinced Paul (who was now an accomplished mechanical engineer) that they should figure out how to refine and produce it in volume, they were on their way.

paul-shemeta-diggit-cofounder

Paul worked for a year perfecting the tool. According to him, his process was “a lot of trial and error with assembly methods, the design and size of the tool, digging weeds at halftime during football games, asking people their opinions about the latest design…” Using it was the real key for Paul though. He went through a lot of different handles before settling on the one they use now. He knew it was the right one because even during intensive weeding sessions, he says, “It didn’t give me blisters.”

Paul and Elena have come a long way since they sold those first Diggit tools at the Seattle Fremont Sunday Market. With an enthusiastic customer base that gives great feedback, Elena’s ingenuity and determination and Paul’s technical know how and passion for problem-solving, the Diggit tools just keep coming and keep getting better and better.

Tell us a little about yourself.

When the company started

Southern California

big shock

in the nineties for the last few days

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

It’s funny I didn’t really start gardening in my 20s which is about 60 years ago!

We moved a lot, this was the age when engineers and their families moved from one coast to the other. I’d plant strawberries and somebody else got to pick them. My first gardening experience was maybe planting a lily bulb. It would take me forever because I had to dig everything up

and replace the soil and the amendments.

I always had to read my sunset garden book

they wrote about us 3 times so it’s worked out really well.

You might have more experience then a lot of us developing all these different areas.

How did you learn how to garden organically?

I just think it’s just something you naturally do

especially when you’re at my age

there was not a lot of stuff that you could put in the garden back when. It doesn’t just happen, I mean I guess it does.

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

Well the big problem is when I really when I lived in seattle I could grow incredible tomatoes. I noticed my daughter who lives close to me, she lived in California

she doesn’t have any tomatoes

last year,

2nd growing season

last year my tomatoes weren’t very good

this year they’re even worse! I contributing that to the heat records. At 100º some days

boiled them to death, I haven’t done much but I have done really well with my gora

common

whilrling butterflies

exotic thing I could never

poinsianna

amazing fern like leaf thing

makes these incredible bright orange flowers

just the gora and the poinsianna

and a whole bunch of seemed

native grasses

herbs are just fine

I have

  • basil
  • lemon grass
  • lemon thyme

they’re just fine

not very many people grow

I like it

I put it in everything

  • sage
  • peppermint

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

I’m just trying to survive

not really thinking about this year

so crazy

look at the temp in Rhode Island

Seattle is quite cool still

holy mackerel

have to go out for a walk before 9,

  • rosemary is doing well too
  • cat
  • chives

they seem to like to be

Back when we were raising our 6 kids

we could only afford to go camping

held down by footlong tent stakes

moved to washington to the Seattle Area in general

3 differenet cities there

out weeding just had the stupid claw

messed up everything

left the roots in

Diggit Garden HAnd Tool, Diggit Hori Hori Garden Knife and Diggit Duck Garden Hand tool

I found one of these old tent stakes

could get between the good stuff and the bad stuff

it would be more comfortable with a handle on it

took a whole blooming year to figure out a nice pointing

tol with a soft comfortable handle

ended up with cement

That was the Diggit!

Paul said people told him we love the Diggit what will get into tiny

hole to hang it on

that was that

branched out into the hori hori garden knife

is absolutely amazing

started out in the adirondacks and ended in Seattle

we started in 1997!

Sent one to a garden writer

and she then wrote an article about the tool and she liked it

The original Diggit

when we were selling it to one of the big garden shows

saw a bunch of sunset people

lost the tools but had the card

called me and then interviewed me

tiny article

didn’t have a website

excpet my phone number

wonderful

called me

lasted for 2 yeras even after  5 years

I saw the article in my doctors office

I would give

the interesting thing

too

Paul is a mechancal engineer

fine art

stores wanted us to make some kind of poster explain how to use the tool!

one of my son’s friends had one

hori means

dig

lots of different prices

we think our’s is the best

paul’s done some kind of a coating so it never rusts

stainless steel inside

then he’d give the tools to another garden writing

Siscoe Morris

test stuff and break it if possible

if he could break it

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden.

Not really, I suppose miserable little clover

worst foe

because of it’s underground roots

tunnel under

play submarine

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden.

Everything else I just like

being out there, everybody says it soothes my soul

whatever you were worried about

amazing therapy

What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?

Plant tomatoes really deep

they’ll make more roots

in Seattle I could grow

I really don’t know

sandy clay

endlessly

It’s funny in

people don’t garden

or they have a gardener do their yards…

A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?

Mainly I would just put slices of tomato on a piece of pizza I don’t have any peppers

I don’t really cook that much

mainly Ive always grown flowers

when I was working in the bellevue school district I ouwld bring in flowers

open in the afternoon

kids would come in just to watch the flower open over the day that they were there.

exciting and fun

my garden was always my painting

I didn’t grow that many vegetable

the usually

arugala

whatever’s hanging around

ginger root and garlic

problem

really kind of a solution

we go to a farmer’s market every week

they have amazing stuff

introduced to persimmons

what they even were

the farmer’s market amazing!

they’re real adventure

right now peaches and nectarines and plums

grapes

persimmons

brussell sprouts

absolutely amazing!

A favorite reading material-book, mag, etc you can recommend?

My Sunset Western Garden Book

The New Western Garden Book: The Ultimate Gardening Guide

The New Western Garden Book: The Ultimate Gardening Guide

no matter what I plant I always look it up

just in case

that I don’t remember

that’s just sits on our table in our living room…

If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra produce or get started in the industry?

IDK, just have to have a certain combination of creativity and technical knowhow if you have an idea and find a solution

come up with it

“It’s the best place to see miracles unfold!”

How do we connect with you?

Diggit garden tools website

https://diggitgardentools.com/

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About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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