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 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
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
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
exotic thing I could never
amazing fern like leaf thing
makes these incredible bright orange flowers
just the gora and the poinsianna
and a whole bunch of seemed
herbs are just fine
- lemon grass
- lemon thyme
they’re just fine
not very many people grow
I like it
I put it in everything
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
look at the temp in Rhode Island
Seattle is quite cool still
have to go out for a walk before 9,
- rosemary is doing well too
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
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
didn’t have a website
excpet my phone number
lasted for 2 yeras even after 5 years
I saw the article in my doctors office
I would give
the interesting thing
Paul is a mechancal engineer
stores wanted us to make some kind of poster explain how to use the tool!
one of my son’s friends had one
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
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
because of it’s underground roots
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
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
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
whatever’s hanging around
ginger root and garlic
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
A favorite reading material-book, mag, etc you can recommend?
My Sunset Western Garden Book
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?
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