You have no items in your shopping cart.
RSS

Blog posts tagged with 'tools'

Spring - playing catch up!

 

Believe it or not Spring is just around the corner. In Sussex the earliest date recorded to celebrate this most vibrant of months is Feb 22nd, but I have researched the history of the seasons and find the Celts used to celebrate Feb 1st as the first day of Spring.  If you want to know more about our seasonal year, you can go to http://guydeakinsgardening.com/blog/seasons/  for more info.

All that said, we are not quite there yet and there is much to do! As I always say to my clients, we have 12 months in a year, 4 months of that you can actually get things done in the garden with no issue. The rest of the year you are playing catch up. (With this mild winter in Sussex, I am still playing catch up).

At this time of year, I always try to clean the greenhouse from top to bottom. A power washer set on wide spray is ideal for the task of cleaning the glass, however, many of you will have a glasshouse on the allotment so this is sometimes impractical. The best method therefore is to buy a soft broom and a large bucket. If you are organic, fill the bucket with a safe mix of water, detergent and malt vinegar and scrub away – remembering to wear some waterproofs and a face mask as you will undoubtedly get wet. If you don’t follow organic codes, you can also use a single mix of Jeyes fluid or biocide and water.  Remember : Always read the label when using chemicals.

Once the glass has been done, turn your attention to the rest of the area. If you have a hard floor, scrub this. If you have bare soil, turn the soil, adding a slow release fertilizer such as Vitax Q4 and a small amount of slug bait, or set some beer traps. Now your beds are ready for the addition of fresh compost and plants when the air warms sufficiently.

If you like to reuse pots, now is the time to soak them, using the water mixture in the large bucket you used for the glass. Once they have been soaked, use a small stiff hand brush to scrub off any residual dirt or plant material.  Use the same process to clean your spades, forks and any other tool you have been using recently to dig over the wet ground to aerate it. If they have wooden handles a small amount of wood oil, rubbed in with a cloth will not do any harm and extend the life of your prized possession.

Now to your secateurs and other cutting implements. If you have neoprene gloves or similar, put them on. Carefully take the secateurs apart using a screwdriver or spanner, making note of how it went together. Using an old toothbrush, carefully clean the surface of the blades and gently scrub any areas where dirt or plant material could collect (this includes the bolts and springs). If you have a sharpening stone, now is the time to hone the edge to perfection then using a soft cloth, wipe a small amount of oil onto the whole blade. When you are satisfied the tool is clean and primed, put it back together and oil the joint.

If you have machinery, I always try to service mine in November, but if you have not had the chance for whatever reason, then now is the time to get them down to the local mechanic – before the mad rush at Easter fills their books out for weeks! 

Is your garden secure?


With the recent increase of thefts from gardens across the UK, I thought it would be prudent to write about ways of making sure your tools and even plants are safe from light fingers. Putting a good lock on the shed is a good start. It may surprise you to know, many people still think a simple latch will suffice when it comes to looking after your expensive tools.  However, a policemen friend of mine recently told me, in the majority of cases in a domestic garden, a simple but sturdy brace and lock will put off many burglars.  But you may want to go further and reinforce the doors and roof? Also try to lock any external gates if you have them. Anything that slows a person down will add to your security. Basically, you have to assess what your garden machinery is worth. If you have gone for the top end of the market, with a beautiful Stihl leaf blower etc, you are looking at close to £500 just to replace one item.

Perhaps you have insurance and think it will all be replaced if stolen?

Most insurers now will not consider replacing any items unless it can be proved that the utmost care was put into protecting your tools, then even if you can prove due care was taken, your premium will go up in the following years. A second way of protecting your tools is to mark them. The police will give you, if you ask nicely and flutter your eyelids, a UV marker pen. Write your name and postcode on everything you wish to trace. If you want to go one step further, you can get the items engraved, etched or stamped. Again the police can do this for you. The third way, is to be vigilant. If you see anybody loitering at the rear gate of a garden or looking over fences furtively should be reported. Or indeed, any unwanted visit from people offering their gardening or tree expertise, with no form of ID, should be reported to the police on the 101 number. Equally, anybody offering to tarmac your drive, suggesting pest control or just turning up 'lost' is also to be reported to 101. I am told by a senior police officer, that this will help in future intelligence work. When you do hire someone, make sure your gardener is qualified and insured, with the proper credentials. They may be remarkably cheap, but are they who they say they are? Try to get references and evidence of previous work. Again a policeman has informed me, that some who advertise as 'gardeners' you wouldn't particularly want near your property.

 
Tools

I am quite often asked about the tools I use and what are the most necessary items for a gardener. Quite often I reply that it is whatever tools you feel are necessary for your garden, but I do have my favourites.
I love my vintage border fork. The tines are so sharp as to scare me, but used properly it is better than a hand trowel or long cultivator. I can gently aerate lawns with it and lift waste or straw like a pitch fork. It is without doubt my favourite tool.

Second come the secateurs. A good pair is definitely worth investing in. There are the Swiss kind, or perhaps one of the other common brands but again a vintage pair properly made, always seems to work best for me. Lastly but not least, I insist on a good pair of gloves. I cannot stress this enough. Working in comfort and without fear of thorn or blister is something I relish.


On another note, I recently visited Devon and was quietly delighted in finding a hidden gem of a garden in Shaldon. Nestled above the River Teign is a small garden of historical note, which goes by the name of Homeyards Botanical Gardens. Five years ago, the garden had been an abandoned mess of weeds, but today it is a story similar to Heligan (yet less widely publicised). The overall design is in the process of still being discovered as there are no plans in existence, so by visiting and showing your support, not only are you creating history but perhaps one day this forgotten corner will be celebrated as other gardens are today.

-- Guy Deakins