As you may know from some of my recent posts (especially “Rows and rows of windrows” last year), I cut the grass in a large part of my garden using a scythe. Why, you might ask? There are many good reasons including effectiveness, exercise, no pollution, no noise and low expense. One extremely important thing that goes along with my scythe is a good hay rake. I didn’t know or expect this a few years ago but a good, traditional hay rake has become one of my best friends in the garden – it makes the work so much easier and is very effective even though the design is simple.
I like buying things that are handmade by local craftsman (part of “Use 10 Percent Less” and trying to keep things simple and local), and back in 2015 I found what I was looking for in a company called The Natural Gardener (I have affiliation with them at all – I just like their stuff). I’ve bought a few things from this company but my favourite is their “Handmade Wooden Hay Rake” (you’ll find a good story about how these rakes are made on the their web page). Read more
As you might already know, I do a bit of scything around my garden, and you may be wondering what happens to all the grass. Ok, that thought probably never entered your head, but I’d like to think it did. In my garden, I like to try to keep everything circular – everything that’s produced by the garden goes back into the garden – and I use all the grass that I cut to enrich the soil. This requires windrows.
What is a windrow?
The dictionary definition is something like “a long low ridge or line of hay or a similar crop, designed to achieve the best conditions for drying or curing”. When grass is cut with a scythe, the cut grass tends to line up on the ground to the left of the direction the scythe is swung, and that tends to create natural windrows. However, it works out that there’s cut grass all over the place in general. If the grass is cut in the morning, it’s best to just leave it spread out to dry in the sun for the day and, near the end of the day, to rake it up into windrows.
Why create windrows?
Back at the end of October we got our first frost of the year and I had no idea what it would be like scything with frost.
I know, you’re probably thinking “scything!” Cutting grass with a scythe? Yes, it’s all true and it’s not as crazy as you think. Back in 2015, our back garden had hip-high grass and I was wondering how to get it under control. I went on a scything course and learnt how to go about it. It’s not as hard as you might think and it’s a nice activity. And it’s not expensive. I costs only £118 for a beginners kit that includes everything you need and only about £150 for an advanced kit. That’s cheap compared to buying a lawnmower and a strimmer plus the fuel, etc. And a single scything blade can last 10-20 years if looked after properly.