THE MODERN MINT BLOG
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.”
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.
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…?)
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!
Making a new topiary out of the large, dull facade of a Taxus blob… My work was to change it up from a ‘jelly drop’ shape and give it texture, open it out and let the light through, and make it a sculptural feature in the background of the garden in summer… yet a major part of the garden in winter. A few more years before it becomes something special, but there was far more leaf and growth inside the plant than I thought and so it will not take too long for it to gain in character and become …
Two weeks ago I was invited to teach topiary at the garden of Griselda Kerr, the author of The Apprehensive Gardener. I love teaching and sharing skills, but I was placed on the spot in the afternoon and asked to show how I would make a new topiary from an existing shrub. So below is a speeded-up video of me creating a cloud-pruned topiary from an old boxwood tree. I particularly love the ending when the class get involved….! See the video here. One hour was all it took, and though it needed a little tidying-up, it was made by …
Charlotte Molesworth, my topiary mentor, and I are running our popular topiary workshop again in 2022. You can email me for details – or go here for information, your ticket and to find out about dates. Book A Spot On A Topiary Workshop, September 2022