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Garden Dreams: Reel Mower

February 28th, 2009

I have a long list of things I want for gardening, new tools, new books, more pots, more manure, more plants, the list goes on and on. One that I’m really dreaming about is a new reel mower.
I used one of these when I was young, in fact it’s the one I still have and use occasionally. It’s a vintage Craftsman mower from years gone by. It still works, but the tires have no tread left and you can no longer adjust the cutting height.
I like to follow the motto “Cut it high, let it lie” and this mower does not allow me to do that. Perhaps I can find someone who will fix it for me, but until then I’m dreaming of a nice shiny new reel mower (I know not a girl’s typical dream, but designer bags or new shoes are not for me).

Here are a few mowers I have been eying.

scotts-reel-mowerThere’s a Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower Although I don’t really want to buy a plastic mower, I love that my old one is all metal. This one doesn’t have great style, there’s just something very attractive about my old beat up red one. Plus I just don’t like that green & orange color scheme.

razorcut-mowerThere’s the RazorCut premium that’s made in Germany (if it’s anything like their cars it would be a good investment). I have seen this one in person and it seems really nice, but it just looks a little too futuristic for a reel mower. I love the old-fashioned look better. I have heard a lot of good things about this mower though, if you’re going to buy a new one this may be the way to go. Lehman’s also has a bunch of other people powered lawn tools, like a leaf sweeper (although I must say I’m pretty fond of my rake).

lee-valley-tools-mowerThere is also the Lee Valley Tools one (if it’s like anything like the rest of their tools it would be a great mower). This one appeals to me the most because it looks like it’s a no-frills quality mower. I looks most like the old one that I have and I’m sure it’s built to last just as long. The green color is also fantastic, although I do wish it came in red (perhaps a can of spray paint could fix that). I also like the grass catcher, that would be handy for collecting the grass clipping occasionally for my compost pile.

AHHHHH, mowing without the sounds of an engine, only the swish of a blade? No exhaust to pollute the environment or my lungs? No longer running out of gas and having to run in to town. Better for the grass because it actually slices the grass not smashes it. If I can find someone to fix up my old mower I will do that, until them I’m using my gas powered one to mow. If I can’t find someone to fix up my old mower perhaps in a year or two I’ll have a nice reel mower to use, or maybe I’ll dig out my dad’s scythe and learn to use that.

What do you use to mow? a reel mower? (take the poll)

Quote of the Day: W.E. Johns

February 27th, 2009

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.

~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show


As my seed packets pile up and my seedlings grow taller, I’m anticipating great bounty for my table and pantry from my gardens.

What are you anticipating most about coming gardening season?

It’s Coming, Spring That Is

February 26th, 2009

We had a beautiful day yesterday, it was sunny and in the mid 40’s. I decided to walk around the gardens to see if there were any signs of spring. It’s still winter here and it will be for several weeks (March 21 is the first day of spring here in the Northern Hemisphere). Most of the garden is still looking like winter, the raised beds are still protected with their mulch and a small blanket of snow.
Brown is still the dominant color in the garden and dried seed heads still take of the place of the summer flowers.
The raspberry canes are still showing their purple hue with not a leaf or berry in sight.
The blueberries are still hidden behind their fortress of chicken wire to protect them from the nibbling deer.
There are signs of life in the gardens though, the sedum out front is touting it’s early spring glow.
The larkspur seedling are ready to grow rapidly once they have a few warm days.
The foxgloves are waiting to send forth their tall spires of flowers as soon as the ground warms a little more.
Best of all, the chives are bursting forth ready to add flavor to all kinds of spring dishes.
I’m really excited for spring this year. I’m looking forward to working outside and I’m most excited about eating fresh green things from the garden (I did harvest more spinach on Tues, 4.1 oz).

Are there any signs of life in your winter gardens? What are you most excited about come spring?

Plants for Thought

February 25th, 2009

I’ve never been a lover of coniferous plants. There are a few I like, but I think I have seen far too many blue spruce and other evergreens thrown in front of new homes with a little mulch around their feet and been called “landscaping”. I only have 2 coniferous plants in my gardens, they were planted by the original owners of the home (I had 2 more but they were oddly placed and they were cut down during the first summer we lived here). I have never had much of a desire to add conifers to my garden, I always felt like they would be out of place and boring (since they are around every new house you see). I’m a big of a cottage gardens, large, boisterous and messy and I always felt like the orderliness of evergreens would seem out of place here are Chiot’s Run.
While reading through, A Year at North Hill: Four Seasons in a Vermont Garden I came across this photo and thought to myself, “perhaps I should include a conifers in the gardens here for winter interest.” This is photo of their conifer border, it really is lovely I think. This paragraph from the book sums up why I have always disliked conifers and why I should give them a second chance:

These (conifers) are all known in the nursery trade as “bread and butter” plants, for they may be rowed out as cuttings and grown to a salable size quickly and without much trouble, thereby supplying nurserymen with reliable income. They are the darlings of developments contractors also, for they are relatively cheap, easy to come by, and they may be plunked down against the foundations of a raw new house to give it what they call a “finished” look, though of course it rarely is. The ubiquity of these conifers in new housing developments and in front of filling stations causes many sensitive gardeners to shun them; but the very qualities that make them so treasured there also recommend them strongly to the gardener for they are easy and quick to grow, are often amenable to shaping, and are relatively disease-free.

I’m hoping to add a few conifers to my gardens this summer. I already have a small Frasier fir from the farmer’s market to plant this spring and I’m sure I’ll be buying a few more. They will definitely help add winter interest to the gardens and they’re beneficial for birds (which we also like around here).

Do you have a kind of plant that you dislike? why?

Trading Seeds

February 24th, 2009

A few of you commented on my Cinderella Pumpkin post about being interested in some seeds. I mailed those off last week (so if you wanted some and didn’t get you packet let me know, they may have gotten lost in the mail).
It’s been very fun because I have received some seeds back as a trade for my pumpkin seeds. It’s very exciting to get free seeds in the mail, particularly for a kind of tomato you’ve never heard of. I’m very excited to try these tomatoes out this summer. So what kinds of seeds did I get back in trade for my pumpkin seeds?
So far I’ve received San Marzano, Dr Wyche’s Yellow, Black from Tula, and Brandywine Tomatoes from Chicago Mike.
I also received Stupice (Czechoslovakian heirloom, early & delicious), Wapsipinicon Peach, and Zapotec Pleated Tomatoes from Kelly over at Populuxe.

Have you traded seeds with other gardeners? Did you get something exciting?


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.