I’m a skimmer, and I’m proud of it.

Skimmimg is my way of clearing ground of weeds and plants. Basically, it’s skimming along the soil at about one centimetre below the surface with a spade and cutting down everything within the spades path. There’s no more to it, it doesn’t take a lot of effort and it’s very effective. Strangely, I have never seen any reference to skimming in any gardening book or magazine.

So I don’t strim, nor do I pull out weeds or plants out of the ground (with the exception of the horrible perennial weeds). The idea is that the plants foliage is cut off at ground level leaving the roots in the ground.

The top photo is one of my beds this autumn prior to clearing, and the bottom photo shows the adjacent bed after skimming. The beds are approximately 5 metres wide and 4 metres deep. It takes me around an hour to skim and clear a bed of this size – it’s hard work but I can manage it easily – and I’m ancient.

I have also cleared neglected plots with this method, with weeds up to six foot tall – just skim it all off. Not all at once of course, but a bit at a time. If it takes 1 hour to clear 4 metres it should take around 5-6 hours to clear a plot – one hour a week for 6 weeks and a clear plot - hey presto. One caveat, do clear any debris – bricks, wood, metal first – and do bag it up and take to the tip immediately – leave it hanging around and it gets in the way, is an eyesore, and depressing.

You do need a good spade. I recommend a stainless steel spade which isn’t too heavy. I’ve had my Wilkinson Sword spade for about 40 years and it’s as good as the day I bought it. I think it cost £30 when I got it, which is a quick google tells me is £120 in today’s money, so obviously quiet an investment at the time. Another google says that an equivalent spade today would also cost around £30 – not cheap, but well worth the investment. Interestingly, I found out that all spades sold in the uk are now made in either India or China – some still say they are uk made, but it’s only the painting or cosmetics which are done here. Monty has in the past boasted about his British made Bulldog spade, which was the last brand manufactured in Britain, but sadly the forging equipment was sold to India a couple of years ago.

I’m also a great believer that autumn is by far the best time to clear and prepare plots as much as possible – every minute spent now is five minutes saved next year.

So my thought for this week is SKIM DON'T STRIM

The dilemma is what to do with the plot having cleared it. There are a number of options and I’ll cover my thoughts in next weeks blog.

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