Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Weeding in tight places

Japanese hand weeder
The usual implement for hand weeding is a hand hoe, and the best of these, in my experience, is the so-called "Japanese hand hoe" also called a nejiri weeder. This is a sharp-edged relatively long-handled tool, balanced and light enough to use for hours without strain.

Sometimes, the work to be done--a rock garden, say--is too delicate for even the smallest hand hoe. For such tight spaces, very good is a worn-out paring knife re-purposed as a mini-weeder.

Yet another excellent mini-weeder for delicate work is a table fork--a large, sturdy old-fashioned fork, often silver plated--much larger than those we eat with today. The highly-curved tines work well to pop tiny weeds right out of the ground.

out of the kitchen: re-purposed mini-weeders

However, in my garden is a hillock steep enough so that even these great tricks won't work.   The slope, as yet imperfectly stabilized, is planted to a ground cover which is in the process of setting down roots. A useful soil crust has formed on this hillock, and I am loathe to disturb it.  Where it has been disturbed, rills have began to wash with every rain, but where it remains undisturbed, the rills are fewer, and the rain tends to sheet more uniformly off the crust.
scissor grip

Disturbing this crust with even so small a weeder as an old-fashioned table fork is too disruptive. As the hillock slopes away sharply, I cannot successfully get close enough to the top of the slope to be at all accurate with the paring knife.

In this situation, a pair of scissors from the discount store worked very well. I held the scissors with my thumb and pinkie finger, with my forefinger along the top blade. (Make sure that forefinger stays along the top blade, too, or there will be a cruel pinch!)

Using scissors, it was possible to weed with precision and control, very close to the establishing ground cover, without disrupting the soil surface.
very close to the ... ground cover

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