Saturday, October 20, 2012

Gardening Hoes

Once upon a time I was a disciple of the 'no dig' method of gardening and my shed was filled with boxes of yellowing newspapers waiting to be layered on the ground at a given opportunity and dutifully covered with straw and compost before planting. Then I stopped buying newspapers, going instead for the online content or the breaking stories courtesy of Sky. All the while I was discovering that working the soil was a much better option than 'no dig', for under all those decaying newspapers lived small armies of earwigs, pincers at the ready when exposed to light and families of slugs delightfully entwining in each others shiny slime. Not only these creatures at work but strange white lace of fungal mycellium like nets across the soil surface often appeared. My soil was crying out for a bit of lights, camera , action... So out from the back of the tool shed came my various tillers and hoes. Many of these are home made, improvised and crafted from bits left over and attached to new handles. The single bladed hoe is great for hilling up the soil around leeks or moving soil up around the base of squash and zucchini to give them a firmer footing in the soil. It also has the the ability to chop at some of the more firmly rooted weeds which take hold such as dock or thistles. The three pronged tiller is my favourite as it is lightweight and the thin prongs are able to go deep enough to lightly cultivate the soil as well as lift small weeds right out of the ground. There are always some weeds which can only be removed by hand and these are the ones that grow too close to the base of the particular vegetable or flower. I still use lots of mulch such as pea straw or sugar cane but instead of leaving it as a single layer on the surface of the soil it gets broken up and mixed with the top soil layer as I go along the row. The soil surface is uneven, with some parts covered in clumps of mulch and other parts exposed but at least now the soil is happy and has developed a great texture and 'crumble'. Happy Gardening..........

1 comment:

  1. I htoo have gone through the 'No dig' phase, and encountered colonies of termites under the newspapers. Your tool is ingeneous!