THE MODERN MINT BLOG
We at Modern Mint had a lesson in scything the other day when visiting Waltham Place.
Here are 9 things we learnt…
1) It is normal to scythe without your shoes on (it is near impossible to cut your own foot, though very easy to cut your hand when cleaning or sharpening the blade…!)
2) English scythes have curves, Austrian scythes less so, and Eastern European scythes are straight. There are also lightweight scythes from the USA made of aluminium. These seemed to divide opinion between love and hate.
3) You know you are scything well when you hear a swuuushh… swuuushh… swuuushh… it is the most beautiful sound. Not that we heard it much when we were scything…
4) Scything is on the increase, with the factory in Austria that makes them struggling to keep up with demand.
5) You should not walk on the meadow before it has been cut – the scythe is used to create a pathway into the field for you to walk on. In Austria a hay field is treated with great reverence – it is said that if the crown jewels were placed in the middle of a hay field, an Austrian would not take them because they would not step onto the uncut meadow.
Of course, if they are that keen on scything, they may cut themselves a path towards it…
5) It is 70% technique and 30% grunt.
7) The people who we met on the scything course were people who normally use strimmers and are getting sick of them. They mush up all the grass, are heavy on the arms and back, cost money to buy and the cord takes time from your day when you have to stop and fiddle about replacing it.
8) A good scyther can mow an acre of field a day. That includes clearing it up to!
9) It is better to cut grass when it is wet – so work can start earlier in the morning than with a mower, and because it is quiet can be done later at night.
How do we think Scything make be of use?
Savings on fuel and benefits to health are the obvious ones, but we think the most important reason to embrace scything is that it is easier to store the equipment. A small London garden may have a lawn, in which case it will also need a mower and a shed to keep that mower in.
Here is an updated list of books for keen gardeners. I have enjoyed these books immensely, they range from designers and how they work to helping wildlife to thrive. And by buying from here you are helping local or independent bookshops to survive too. Here is the list – go take a look and nab something to read now!
I compiled a list of books using Bookshop, a new online shop to rival Amazon. I like it because it is supporting independent bookshops, helping them out by giving them an audience whilst their own physical premises are closed. The books I’ve listed are not all about gardening, but worth a look through and an order anyway as they are wonderful and have seen me through lockdown – and I hope they bring you some joy too! Check out the books I recommend here.
Hedge laying is something I’ve been meaning to try for a long time, a type of pruning that can bring huge benefits to wildlife as well as looking amazing. So last year I went down to Dorset/the edge of Devon, to spend a day learning to lay a hedge. Hedge laying is a way of building a stock proof fence. It does take time, and some practical and physical skill, but once you get the hang of it I would think developing your instinct about what to prune and where to lay the branches is where the true proficiency arises… …