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Tamworth pigs, public footpaths and ploughing

Image from

The newly-released Tamworth pigs, two abreast, “unzipped the turf down the public footpaths, following the exact routes on the Ordnance Survey map, heading diagonally across the fields. We realized that what they were doing, with the undeviating propulsion of slow-motion torpedoes, was zeroing in on all areas of the park that had never been ploughed – margins rich in invertebrates, rhizomes and flora. In the first few days of their release the pigs drew an accurate blueprint of what modern farming had done to our soil.” ( page 110 of ‘Wilding’ by Isabella Tree, Picador 2018)

‘Wilding’ by Isabella Tree is an inspiring account of an experiment to return marginal land, ill-suited to intensive agriculture, back to the rhythms of nature. As well as leaving the land to regenerate, they reintroduced grazing, browsing and rootling animals – the last being some Tamworth pigs.

The man who inspired our tools, Viktor Schauberger, had a horror of what modern ploughing was doing to the land. At the time, he could not imagine cultivation without ploughing, so he searched for an alternative, less destructive material to make the plough, and came up with copper. Subsequent field trials bore him out. The crops were healthier in areas cultivated with the copper-plated plough.

Times have moved on, and we are rethinking our relationship with the land. We know that the use of chemicals has long-term unintended consequences. Organic growing is becoming mainstream; it is hard to remember how it was seen as eccentric and unrealistic a generation ago. No-dig gardening does not disturb the life of the soil. No-till farming is proving its value. Bronze garden tools, the inheritors of Viktor Schauberger’s vision, share their sentiment of working with nature rather than against it.

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End of a chapter

Today, using my Mira Trowel, I harvested the onions from the new raised bed.

The frame of the bed was laid on the lawn last August, then the grass was covered with cardboard and the frame filled with about four inches of home-made compost. In September the onion set was planted.

The boiler room now has a decidedly oniony aroma. And I have transpanted some calabrese seedlings to where the onions were.

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No-dig works

Last summer this was part of our lawn.

One afternoon in August, partner Nigel made a timber frame. I laid cardboard over the grass, and then filled the frame with compost.

This is how it looked by the end of that afternoon.

In September I planted some onion sets and sowed some spinach and broccoli

Now, half a year later, the onions are flourishing, and I have been picking spinach leaves for meals. This is the first time I have managed to grow spinach that hasn’t bolted. Note to self: from now on, sow spinach in the autumn, to overwinter. The broccoli isn’t looking wonderful, but there is plenty of time yet for that. And as a bonus, some self-seeded land cress has appeared. A side-effect of using our own compost. I’ll put up with the weeds for that!

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Found my Mira Trowel!

My 15-year-old Mira Trowel disappeared in the garden last spring. I couldn’t find it anywhere. And this afternoon, there it was, stuck in a flowerbed where I had left it. The leaves had died back to expose it. The blade and handle (which was oiled every year) are as good as when I last used it, but the ferrule is a bit rusted.

Not bad – a great start to 2019!

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No-dig raised bed

Made in an afternoon: a new raised bed using the no-dig method.

Partner Nigel made the timber frame and laid it on the lawn. I sorted out some cardboard that the tools had arrived in and laid it inside the rectangle, covering the grass. Then with the  Libra Shovel and Perseus Rake, I sorted out the compost and filled up the new bed. Now we will wait until the compost settles.

The lawn underneath will die and we haven’t disturbed the soil. No worms were harmed in the making of this raised bed (although I disturbed a wasp’s nest in the compost heap).

For more about no-dig, visit

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Lack of slug damage – the evidence

Slugs used to devastate pretty well all of the young plants in our garden. Since we have used the bronze tools we don’t worry about them any more.

Here is some spinach I transplanted early last week, in a space between the overwintered onions. No protection – no damage.

Exhibit ‘b’. Bedding plants in the front garden. Plugs of lobelia and ageratum from a supermarket, planted out ten days ago. One of the lobelia was a bit withered – and was shredded by the slugs. The others are as you see them here.

Exhibit ‘c’. Partner Nigel scattered some seeds in the floor of the greenhouse, and they turned out to be lettuce. Untouched by slugs, as you can see.

However, some plants still get stripped. The slugs took a dislike to a perennial lobelia I planted in the front garden. So I won’t plant it again.

More about the slug and snail effect here.

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Where do the tool handles come from?



maia dibbers

Here are some of the Maia Dibbers. The one nearest the front is made of apple wood. A neighbour of PKS in Austria contacted them to ask if they wanted the wood from an apple tree they were about to cut down.

Other handles are oak, ash and beech, all locally sourced. We can’t guarantee which wood your dibber handle will be made of. It depends which trees were ready to be felled recently.

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A naturalistic business model?

A paragraph from our autumn newsletter:

“Implementations will be fourteen years old next year. No signs yet of a turbulent adolescence. In fact, from our experience so far, we wonder if we can propose a new business model. Viktor Schauberger’s daughter-in-law, Frau Ingeborg Schauberger, has a favourite saying: a good thing looks after itself. Our focus has been to make sure the business stays good so that it can look after itself (and us in the process). Then we can all feel clear in what we do. After all, the different elements of the natural world are mutually supportive, so why not copy the system that sustains us all?”

More thoughts on this theme:

1. Money. The purpose of a business is to make money, right? Well, sort of. In the naturalistic model, money is necessary but not sufficient. The fact that it turns a profit is an indicator that the business is alive, but no more. If that was all there was to it, I’d find it hard to get out of bed in the morning. It’s the japanese knotweed business model – rampant smothering growth without thought for the effects on anyone else. We prefer the oak tree model- a rich, steadily growing  ecosystem bringing enhancement to all.

2. Sales. I had a jaundiced view of sales before launching Implementations. I saw salespeople as crooks, out to get the best deal they can. Maybe some are, but there are others, the ones who stay. I now think a good sale is an honourable exchange, in which both parties feel they have done well.The oak tree shelters the squirrels, who plant the acorns and then forget some of them … and everyone can thrive.

The tools are hand-made of expensive materials, so they are not cheap. We price them to be as affordable as possible. This means that you will not see them in many shops, because we cannot offer enough discount for the shops to justify the shelf space. On the other hand, our resellers are people who have a value for the tools and what they represent, and who can talk from experience of using them.

3. Marketing. I regularly receive emails from people offering ways to ‘drive more business to your site’. I do not want to drive visitors to our site like a herd of sheep. Nature works by invitation, not imposition. (That was a major insight for Viktor Schauberger. More about him on the ‘concept’ page of our site.) I want to invite interested adults to engage with us.

So on our website it is not assumed that you will want to receive our email newsletter. If you want it, the invitation is there.

There is much more that could be said on this – about employment, for example. And probably others have said it before me, so I might be reinventing the wheel. But this is how I like to think about a business.