A dibber or dibble is a pointed wooden stick for making holes in the ground so that seeds, seedlings or small bulbs can be planted. Dibbers come in a variety of designs including the straight dibber, T-handled dibber, trowel dibber, and L-shaped dibber. In some countries (such as New Zealand) the term is also often used to refer to a mattock.
The dibber was first recorded in Roman times and has remained mostly unchanged since. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, farmers would use long-handled dibbers of metal or wood to plant crops. One man would walk with a dibber making holes, and a second man would plant seeds in each hole and fill it in. It was not until the Renaissance that dibbers became a manufactured item, some made of iron for penetrating harder soils and clay.
This is the classic dibber. It is anything from a sharpened stick to a more complicated model incorporating a curved handle and pointed steel end. It may be made of wood, steel or plastic.
This dibber is much like the classic dibber, but with a T-grip that fits in the palm to make it easier to apply torque. This allows the user to exert even pressure creating consistent hole depth.
The ideal T-handled dibber is fashioned from the remains of an old fork or spade handle, retaining the T, and with the shaft whittled to a point.
In colloquial use, the term 'dibber' is often now used to refer to electronic timing units worn on a finger such as the SI-cards used in orienteering events. The earlier units were shaped a bit like (small) wooden dibbers, while more modern rounded versions may be likened to sleek marbles and are carried in leather thumb pouches for safekeeping.
In popular culture
British comedian Lee Mack donated a T-handled dibber to the British Lawnmower Museum, Southport, and spoke about it on the panel game show Would I Lie to You? (Series six, Episode three, first broadcast 27 April 2012 ).
- William Bryant Logan, Smith & Hawken The Tool Book, 1997
- Antique Farm Tools
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