Our new patio – and the tools that helped make it. The edger cut the turf, the shovel lifted it. Then the hoe broke the soil up, which was shovelled into the wheelbarrow. Then the area was raked before the slabs were laid flat with the help of the spirit level. Now we need the rain and wind to slow down so that we can use the new patio!
A customer kindly copied this article and sent it to us. Here is the text in full:
“An archaeologist wouldn’t have made the mistake that I used to make with my gardening tools. He or she would have known about the change in tensile qualities produced by mixing copper and tin. Copper and tin can be bent easily – but bronze doesn’t bend. My bronze gardening tools are therefore lighter and stronger than any steel tool I’ve owned or used.
Thick clay soil bends gardening tools quickly. I once bought a spade and fork set in a famous DIY shed at 7am and angrily recycled it by 8am. My bronze tools are a pleasure to wield. The blade on my trowel is thin, pointed and cupped sufficiently to hold a mound of loose soil, and the edge is sharp enough to slice through woody perennial roots. However, there is a problem – the handle has that rustic wooden look, which means I frequently misplace it. I need to paint it red!
My bronze spade is also slightly cupped. The blade is angled only slightly from the straight, relatively long handle, making leverage and balance perfect. The top of the blade has been wrought to give it integral treads – I have several steel spades where one of the treads (added at the end as part of the manufacturing process) have disappeared and my wellingtons have concomitant holes in their soles.
The bronze spade is a pleasure to dig with. It’s shiny and beautiful to look at. Wet clay sticks to it, but then wet clay sticks to everything. I reckon it would even stick to spades coated with PTFE (Teflon). It certainly sticks to stainless steel. My stainless-steel spades are heavy and very bendy.
It’s true that bronze gardening tools are pricey. Perhaps you shouldn’t buy them as presents – it would be awful if you bought one for a friend with an allotment and for some reason it was never used. But they are invaluable in clay soils like mine. So treat yourself – they’re worth every penny.”
Praise indeed, coming as it does from such a fiercely impartial magazine as Which?Gardening. We didn’t know anything about it until our customers told us.
Read Marian van Eyk McCain’s story of receiving her new trowel in the post.
Her blog is lovely to read. Her description:
MARIAN VAN EYK MCCAIN’S OCCASIONAL THOUGHTS ON GREEN AND CONSCIOUS AGEING, SIMPLE LIVING, GREEN SPIRITUALITY, LOVING THE EARTH … AND LIFE IN GENERAL.
We can say yes to that!
Another use for the small riddle: tidy up the tubs. I removed the top layer of soil, added some compost, then riddled the soil I had removed back into the tub. This left the riddle with the stones which had disappeared down into the soil over the last year. I put them back on top of the tub. Nice and neat!
Just had an email from customer Jeanette Jones, with feedback that lit up our weekend:
“I bought this trowel at the Whitchurch Potato Days about 3 years ago and use it constantly at my allotment. It is lovely to use and is perfect used on its side in a chopping motion to despatch slugs as well as for weeding and planting. I would totally recommend it.”
Sometimes everything comes together just right – and it did for this show.
The sun shone, the displays were breathtaking, and you could feel everyone’s spirits lift at the sight of it all.
The nurseries excelled themselves with original displays.
There were snowdrops, of course.
And hellebores and daffodils, all beautifully presented.
One of our favourite stands was Hardys of Whitchurch, with a soft spread of cottage garden plants.
There was a flower arrangers’ stand, too.
Our stand was behind a display of irises.
In front of us was the citrus grove of Plants for Gifts.
This hand-made wooden wheelbarrow was part of our display. An enjoyable and exhausting couple of days.
I sowed a pack of 80 Marmande tomato seeds at the end of January, put the tray on top of a kitchen cupboard where it was warm and safe, and waited. A week later they had started to germinate – all of them. Our greenhouse is small, so we will only need four plants. Marmande tomato seedlings, anyone?
Suggestion for a gift: an inscribed Mira Trowel.Use this or your own choice of wording for the inscription. If you’re in the UK, place your order by Monday 10th February and we’ll get it to you in time for Valentine’s day.
We’ll be there on the Sunday, talking about Viktor Schauberger, water and copper. The organiser is one of our founder customers, a lovely inspiring man with a track record of organising this sort of thing (he used to run the Leamington Peace Festival, which is still going strong every year). Click on the link below for further details.
A4 POSTER HBMS FESTIVAL
Many people report that wearing a copper bracelet helps to ease arthritis. I have often seen gardeners and farmers with copper bands on one or both wrists, presumably because the cold damp conditions they sometimes work in aggravate the symptoms. However, it never occurred to me that using bronze (mainly copper) garden tools could have a similar effect.
A few years ago I received an extraordinary letter from a customer, a professional gardener in mid-Wales (known for its damp climate). She had been given a Mira Trowel as a gift, and had noticed that the arthritis in her hand and arm had eased. She did not link the two phenomena until she lost her trowel – and the arthritis came back. Her letter accompanied an order for a new trowel.
This was such a strange story that I put it in my mental ‘mystery box’ of curiosities, pending further information. Then I received a phone call from another professional gardener in the south of England. The Vega Hand Fork was the only tool that did not trigger her colleague’s repetitive strain injury in their hand and wrist, and they needed another one.
However, two stories do not make a trend. With a copper bracelet the metal is in direct contact with the skin. With our tools the gardener holds the wooden handle rather than the bronze tool head, so I still can’t see how using it would make a difference. Maybe it’s because the tools are sharp and smooth, so there is less resistance from the soil as the gardener works. Or maybe somehow the metal itself does have an effect even through the (electrically insulating) wooden handle. Or maybe it’s just coincidence.
The stories are still in my mystery box!