THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Oct24

Charles Dowding on Copper Tools

Charles Dowding Uses Copper Tools

Charles Dowding, from his book on Vegetable Gardening, on why he uses copper tools in the garden…

“My favourite tools are made of copper, or to be precise they are 95 per cent copper and 5 per cent tin … the metal is strong, not magnetic and does not rust. This is a keen advantage for trowels, hoes and spades where smooth, sharp blades make for effortless use, and there is no need for regular cleaning or oiling to protect the metal.

“Although the copper alloy is a little less hard than iron, and might suffer in soils with flint or large amounts of stone, the tools are designed to endure. I have found copper trowels last better than ones made of hard stainless steel, which often snap after a year or two, at a weak point near the handle.”

copper tools charles dowding

No Dig Organic Home & Garden

We met Charles Dowding at his own garden in Somerset last year – read about our excellent visit here.

His market garden produces a huge amount of vegetables and fruit for a local box scheme, all organically grown, incredibly tasty and really it is produced with very minimal input. His system is based around spending more time doing what is important – growing the vegetables, making sure the soil is undisturbed, rich, full of life, which then allows him to harvest the best vitamin filled crops.

Everyone’s dream…

But we love what he says above, in the quote from his book. The tools are designed to endure. It is simple, clear and brave – and it all comes from long experience using them.

We get people ask us a lot of questions about the copper tools, about how good they are. We love them, use them regularly (alongside this Diggy Diggy Knife) and highly recommend them. But we are at pains to say to people that copper tools are not a magic bullet – you are not suddenly going to become an amazing gardener just by owning them! (Sorry to break it to you guys, but there are no magic bullets, or magic beans. But there are magic mushrooms. Perhaps that says something about the world…?)

dowding dibber

If you are looking for great tools to use in the garden, you won’t go wrong with the copper tools. We say so. Charles Dowding says so (and he is a fantastic resource for a No Dig Organic Home & Garden)

But as with any copper tools, you do need to make sure you get outside and use them!

See the whole copper tool range now.

Apr28

Phillyrea From 1682

Worlidge Phillyrea

Phillyrea is one of my favourite plants for topiary. I have been using it for quite a few years as a specimen shrub, mostly due to the fact it clips well and has a tough habit – all good characteristics for a topiary plant. It also has a  reputation for being an excellent nectar source for bees… Read more about Phillyrea here. Mentioning this to Malcolm Thicke, a market garden historian and writer, he sent me a some photos of topiary and phillyrea mentioned by John Worlidge in Systema Horticulturae from 1682…. incredible! He also mentioned to me that in …

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Apr27

Kites And Strings Podcast – Topiary In The Garden

kites and strings podcast

Kites and Strings is a podcast about creativity, hosted by US-based Stephen Ploum and Catherine Chinnock. Back in March they asked me to come onto their podcast and talk about topiary, my past writing plays, the stand-up I did and how creativity can fit into your life. The Kites and Strings podcast was great fun and Stephen and Catherine are fantastic hosts. Listening back today I am surprised by some of the ideas I talked about (somehow I even started to describe a future where I run a ‘School of Creativity’ by the sea…. where did that come from?!) but it …

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Apr27

Robinia – Pruning A Beautiful Tree For Small Gardens

topiary Robinia

Robinia is often forgotten – by me, actually! – when thinking of plants for topiary. But when I work on it I do love it, brittle and soft as the wood is if you climb into it. But that danger of snapping a branch with a heavy step and falling out of the tree aside, I love it for the dappled light it allows into the garden space. Robinia Near The Sea Below is a Robinia I have gently clipped over the last few years, down near Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. The tree was large when I arrived, although it is …

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