12 December 2011

Outmoded objects for the kitchen garden

(A Non-Gift List for the Observer and Guardian)
Loyal tools and aids which have avoided the dump and even the bulldozer would make original gifts for the modern kitchen gardener. If only we could buy them online. Following are some of these indispensable facilitators which are still in use at Marsh Hall, though some are less popular than others. Put them on your Christmas list, and hope for the best.

The Bowser (above). Admired by many though hated by some, due to its phenomenal weight when full. A sloped allotment is useful here: it is important to pull a full bowser down, and an empty bowser up. It's a water butt on wheels.

Barr's Bulb Dibber. Originally intended for tulips etc., allotmenteers could also put it to use in the dedicated potato bed. Designed to be used standing up, with a servile helper at ground level dropping bulbs or seed potatoes into the neat hole created by the dibber.

The glass cloche. Works best in a row. Doesn't look as though it should transport easily but the handle and wire arrangement is fine. Putting it down again and not crashing into another glass cloche is important here.

Pointy spade, or perennial spade. It is smaller and shorter than a border spade and is designed for people who don't mind getting close to the earth. (warning: may be heavy).

Small border fork, ditto. Lower ratio of cast iron to wood, so lighter.

A handy peg and line. The weight, length and narrowness of the iron peg is part of the appeal, as is the vertical 'brake' at the top to prevent the thing unravelling. Old painted metal pegs just get better with age.
Long brick wall to grow things against. South, West, or East facing preferred. North acceptable.

Lead sink. This one at Holkham Hall in Norfolk comes with a tap: it's a perfect receptacle for watering cans.

Does it have to be beautiful and useful? The brambles are a giveaway for this lovely lawn roller.

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