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Autumn winds and Scythes of Ash

We have survived the violence of winter storms, bringing copious quantities of rain!

It's almost the end of the gardening year. All the parsnips harvested and just beetroot and some final broccoli still in the ground. We have apples galore on the espaliers where the warmth of the wall keeps them fast attached to the branches – and still a few tomatoes, basil and grapes in the greenhouse.

It always surprises me how fast the new fruit trees grow. Here's the new green-gage tree “spreading its wings” after just 10 months in the ground! The new tree was cut back to about 18 inches above the ground when planted – then just 3 buds were kept (one going up, the other 2 out sideways). The sideways shoots have been tied onto their wires whilst the leading shoot was cut again to produce yet another 3 buds which have already grown (as you can see) – ready to take off next spring.

It's always an enjoyable task, peeling, slicing and blanching the parsnips – just a couple of hours productive work in the kitchen. We've already started dumping all the cleared vegetation (pumpkin leaves and parsnip tops for example) onto the new open compost bins for next year.

When the weather dries up and we've had a few frosts we will be able to clear and weed the garden before a final rotavation before winter sets in. It will be time then to let the garden rest until we spread the new compost after Christmas. Today I found a fine butterfly sheltering under my wheelbarrow. What a beauty of creation!


The response to all types of scything activity continues to very positive. It's rewarding and encouraging to see how enthusiastic newcomers can become after their first struggles to master the skill. Several of the “actors” in the Harvest film business have bought scythes after their experience near Oban. I have also developed a productive relationship with the growing movement for establishing wildflower meadows. Here again there was a very positive response during a recent workshop where I was able to demonstrate the effectiveness of a sharp scythe for managing the rampant growth in the early stages of a new meadow.

For anyone interested I have a number of ex-demonstration scythes in very good condition for sale now at £145. My latest batch of new scythes are made from high quality seasoned Scottish ash with an excellent 65cm all-purpose blade – for sale now at £195. These strong tools will last a lifetime – a great pleasure to use!


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