In my week off, the weather was very kind. For the most part, there were long sunny intervals, and a few short but heavy shower bursts to keep the ground sufficiently moist. Great news for our crops but it also means that the weeds and grass need tending to much more regularly. At the moment we’re in a bit of a middle ground where we’re doing lots of shifting around, digging out and preparation, so there has been quite a lot of bare earth around. As many of you will no doubt already know, bare earth is a breeding ground for weeds. Whilst I don’t mind a few flowering weeds and we’re far from neat, tidy and sterile, we do need to keep on top of things. Lots of weeding, pruning and cutting back.
Recently Presentsformen.co.uk asked if I would like to sample a couple of their gardening products. Whilst I am clearly (I hope) not a man, there were plenty of gardening bits and pieces for me to try out (pretty much all of them, with anyone and everyone able to do gardening of one sort or another). With so many ‘maintenance’ type jobs to do around The Smallest Smallholding, I decided to put on my practical hat and try out a Burgon & Ball handheld razor hoe and a barrow bag.
Originally I thought the razor hoe was for cutting down small crops – much like a scythe – but actually, you can use it in a drawing motion under the soil to uproot and get rid of annuals and some perennial weeds really easily. We have a few problem spots with nettles – the ground is really hard and compacted and the nettle roots strong, so digging them out by hand is a nightmare. The razor hoe makes it much easier to get in and under the roots. And if left unchecked, even on an innocuous bit of open ground our sandy soil quickly forms a hard crust and becomes quickly colonised with weeds, so hoeing regularly is a must when the soil needs to be kept bare (not for long – polytunnel plans!). I find it very difficult to dig with a fork and use a long handled hoe because of my back problems, but surprisingly using a handheld razor hoe has been very easy! It makes short work of compacted soil and uproots annuals easily by loosening the soil quickly around the roots:
The second product I opted for was a barrow bag that increases the volume of the wheelbarrow. It unfolds and sits inside the barrow, making the sides taller so that you can transport more to the compost bins. This has been really handy as we have several hedges and large plots that have needed a bit overhaul (ie lots of green matter for the compost bins). The bag seems tough and durable, and folds down nicely afterwards so it’s easy to store, and great for lazy bums like me who don’t want to be wheeling back and forth to the compost bins all the time! It also has two handles so it can be easily lifted out of the barrow, into the boot of our car and taken to the green waste containers at the the tidy tip. It took me a couple of days to fill up the barrow bag, and I think it pretty much doubles the wheelbarrow’s capacity at least. Very handy and highly recommended!