Friday, 2 August 2013

Machetes for Gardeners.


Many years ago someone who was interested in some of my writings invited me to visit him in Austria. This was my second visit to Austria but my first in the area of Kitzb├╝hel. Famous for its winter sports, it is also a very pleasant place to visit in other seasons. Ultimately that association led to me writing my first book. One memory that sticks with me is how often you would see a scythe hanging on the outside of a house. These were more than rustic decorations, however. On several occasions I saw homeowners using these scythes to trim the edges of their lawns. A much more elegant choice of tool than the noisy strimmers so often used in other countries. 

Jumping forward a few years and I was holidaying on a certain Caribbean island. There on several occasions I witnessed gardeners or municipal workers at work and often the only tool they would have was a battered machete, the handle invariably replaced with electrical tape. They only had a machete since this was all they needed. If planting flowers in a flowerbed the end of the machete would serve to dig the necessary a hole a few inches deep. The flat of the blade would then pat the earth flat again. The edges of lawns were trimmed by deft swipes of the machete. Moss and grass was cleared from between paving stones by grubbing it out with the blunt back edge of the point.

If you are a gardener you may have a whole shed full of tools and my observations above make me wonder how many you really need? The machetes I saw in use were the fairly typical “GI-pattern” but being of a certain ilk I began to wonder if about a specific design of gardening machete.

Here is one possible design. The blade is about a foot long and the long handle allows a variety of grips for fine control or long slashing actions. The end is designed to serve as a trowel and a blunt hook like extension serves several uses including grubbing. Perhaps I should make the butt serve as a digging stick?