by Andy Cawthray, 21st January 2020
Spring is just round the corner (believe it or not!) so it's time to get prepping
Job for the Month
One thing to really focus on this month is your tools and machinery. Your power tools, be they petrol or electric, need a thorough check-over and service before you need to use them.
There’s nothing more annoying than setting about the fi rst cut of the lawn come March or April and finding the mower won’t start, and then finding that you’re not alone and the waiting list for a service is four weeks long! Get the job done now and you’ll miss the rush and be ready for the spring.
The same applies to your hand tools, too. Blunt blades make for hard work, and spending some time cleaning and sharpening them now will help with early-season cutting and pruning.
If the tool has moving parts, like secateurs or hand-held hedge clippers, it’ll benefi t from oiling and, while you’re at it, check the nuts and bolts and tighten if required.
For your other hand tools, make sure you clean them of any dirt by giving them a wash with some soapy water. Be sure to dry them afterwards to prevent rust. In fact a light rub-over with an oily rag on the tines of the fork and blade of the spade won’t do them any harm. Just be sure not to oil the area were you apply pressure with your foot!
And finally, the hoe, which we tend to forget is ultimately a cutting tool, designed to slice weeds off below the surface. Clamp the hoe in a bench vice and sharpen with a fi le, then when you set about using it, you’ll be surprised at how easily a sharp hoe can cut through the tough job of weeding a border or bed.
Tip of the Month
To help manage your time in the months to come, get a box with dividers in it, and file your seed packets by the month they need to be sown in
Q: What’s the difference between coppicing and pollarding?
A: Coppicing is to regularly prune a tree close to the ground to encourage strong basal shoots. Pollarding is pruning back to the main trunk or branch frame, but is also used to encourage new growth at that level. Both techniques were done to provide regular firewood or stems for basket-weaving or fencing. They also ensured new material was accessible, making harvesting easier. Today, pollarding is used to enhance leaf size on ornamental trees or restrict tree size to a manageable level.