My favorite gardening tool

Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade.

Rudyard Kipling

Gardens can require a lot of work, but I have one tool I probably use more than anything else. My hori hori knife has been invaluable since I bought it last year. Also known as a Japanese soil knife the word hori translates as, “to dig”. Hori hori also works as an onomatopoeia for the sound of digging.

I first saw the hori hori on Gardner’s World used by Monty Don. The knife has a decent six inch blade with a concave shape. One edge is serrated, the other sharp. The blade is almost full tang, going into the handle making it secure.

This is a multifunction tool. Its main purpose is to remove weeds. It does this wonderfully for me. I’d tried a number of different weeding tools and none quite satisfied. When we moved in the garden had been neglected with many deep rooted dandelions. This allows me to cut in deeply and precisely into the lawn to remove weeds down to the roots. 

The knife also acts as a trowel as the curved blade allows you to dig. I use this for digging a lot of the smaller holes for plug plants. It’s also good for digging around plants for moving. The serrated edge can work through roots. It is equally good for splitting perennials.

I also find it works well for edging the lawn where the sharp and serrated edges allow me to mark the line I want and then saw or cut through giving me a neat, precise line.

The blade also marks depth with the ruler on the knife. This can be used for planting bulbs. It goes into the soil easily. A little wriggle and you have a hole ready for a bulb. I prefer it to my traditional dibber as I’ve mainly planted large bulbs like daffodils and aliums where this has worked better.

With the size of the handle and blade it does feel a bit like taking a machete to the weeds, but that is rather satisfying in itself. It is a tool I’ve seen described as, “fun to use,” and it is. It makes an otherwise dull job somewhat pleasurable. Allowing you to lose yourself in the zen of weeding. While not the cheapest tool it has replaced a number of tools in my gardening arsenal. I highly recommend the hori hori to garden lovers. 

Alice on the other hand favours the watering can. Used by her both to water plants and deadhead flowers as she brandishes it in all directions, smiting any flowers in her way.


Follow on twitter @jobasha for more gardening, wildlife and outdoor adventures.

Birds of a feather

Having written about my new bird feeder I think it’s a good time to look at what I am getting in the garden. Often Summer is quite a quiet time for the feeders with an abundance of food around for the birds they can find themselves. But with the sporadic weather going back and forth between torrential rain and baking sun when the sun is shining the birds are looking to fill up on high energy foods.

Nothing puts the pigeons off coming to the feeders. Even in the rain they will sit out on the feeder getting plumper.

With lots of young sparrows around the feeders have seen the house sparrows back and forth on lots of visits.

The starlings have been swarming in large numbers, then flitting off as quickly as they came.

The blackbirds have been enjoying the wet ground, picking though for the worms come to the surface.

The goldfinches mentioned in a previous blog.

I’ve almost seen the whole tit family. There have been blue tits, great tits, long tailed and coal tits. Although I haven’t managed any photos of the coal tits.

The ever present herring gull shed mafia has been keeping watch over its domain.

I’ve also seen wrens, collared doves, jackdaws, chaffinches and thrushes. Part of the reason for getting so many I believe is down to the variety of food on the feeders. The tits seem to be going mad for the suet and peanuts. The jackdaws come for the meal worms and kitchen scraps. The pigeons seem to devour everything. The finches like the niger and the sunflower heads.

I also have feeders on different levels. Some ground feeders and some up higher on the station. Then I also have some located hanging in the trees and these seem to be favoured by the smaller birds. It’s worth trying putting more than just a seed mix out if you want to attract a variety of birds. Or if there is something you particularly want put out appropriate food.

The insect life has also been pretty good with a good variety of butterflies, dragonflies and bees coming in.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my whistle stop tour through my garden birds and all have good weekends.

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I’ll finish with an Emily Browning poem.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Link party

Just a quick update to draw your attention to the August link party. The link party is kindly organised by the old house in the shires. The idea is to link related blogs, this link party is aimed to link blogs on all aspects of gardens. Some super blogs there.

Watching the daisieshas been on some lovely garden visits as has old house in the shires. I like the vertical planting ideas on gardening limited. A nice activity making ladybirds. A rather nice project upcycling a broken chair. Some good food for thought for anyone interested in gardening.


Link to link party again
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Photo uploads

I currently host a lot of my photos through photobucket. However they have changed their settings, so I can only do third person hosting if I pay $399 a year. For a blog written for fun where no money is made that’s too big an expense. This is undoubtedly going to see people stop using photobucket and look for alternatives. They changed this with no notice, so there are now blogs lacking photos.

I do pay for one of the lowest bands of wordpress. So I could go pay for the photo hosting though here, but again it’s a big cost for a blog written for fun. As I like posting high quality images this may mean I post less or stop altogether unless I can find a decent alternative.

 

The Great Butterfly Adventure

When I wrote the focus on painted ladies I mentioned a documentary that was no longer available. Well it is back on iplayer for a limited time for UK residents.

The Great Butterfly Adventure

This was a good quality documentary charting the amazing painted ladies migration. Well worth viewing a second time.

I’m also going to make some time for the British Garden: life and death on your lawn.

A documentary with Chris Packham presenting, tracking five gardens over the course of a whole year. A chance to show how many species live within our gardens and how important our gardens are to wildlife.

Carnival

Today was the Hornsea Carnival parade. Not quite the spectacle of Rio or Notting Hill. More a celebration of English quaintness.

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We saw three bears accompanying a juvenile offender.

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We saw Morris Dancers. For non-English readers Morris Dancing is a form of folk dancing where you tie ribbons and bells to yourself and prance around. It isn’t generally an activity you’d admit to on a first date or for that matter in the first year of a relationship.

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There were a lot of craft stalls: wood carving, rope making and jam, chutney and pies.

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In the arena area we saw a bird of prey show. However the bird wasn’t having any of it mainly deciding to sit in the trees.

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At the side the birds rested on their perches. It was nice seeing these fantastic feathers fiends for free.

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Live music played at the bottom of the hill with a eclectic mix of covers from Green day to Van Morrison

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Back at home Alice still wanted to be a butterfly with her backpack on. Tomorrow the carnival is still on so we’ll see what other eccentricities we see.

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30 days of wild: day 26-sharing

Today has seen me sharing my wildlife passions. The morning has been the culmination of several months of hard work. I changed schools this term and took a promotion to become am EYFS coordinator. We’ve had local authority moderation looming over us. So we’ve had a frantic couple of months collecting evidence and teaching the children to the level we needed. This morning we had the moderation and it went really well. Everyone of our assessments were signed off by the LA. So this lunchtime I spent a bit of times enjoying the children’s company.

On the main playground where the kids go out at dinner there is a wildlife garden. There is a ponds and planters with wildlife attracting species of flowers: lavender, rosemary and nettles.

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The kids currently are worm obsessed. Second in their interests are ladybirds. So at lunch I spent the time finding a ladybird larvae.

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And found a good few pupae. Both larvae and pupae ate probably the invasive harlequin menace, but children have a fascination with naming and understanding these things.

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Teaching natural history and the names of animals, birds and minibeasts has been shown to teach care for the environment. Then from this deeper empathy for other people. A useful lesson for a calm school.

Returning home my passion has rubbed off on my partner. She’s been taking photos while I’m out. This one stands out as pretty good and I like the subject matter too.


This is all part of what 30 days is all about though. Enjoying wildlife for your self is great, but getting more people to enjoy nature gives me an even greater joy. 

Who will you inspire?