Here in sunny southeast Ireland the grass is growing like the clappers. Temperatures are lower than usual and although the vegetable patch is struggling the ongoing dampness makes it ideal weather for grass growth. Cutting the grass with a ride-on or push mower can be an all consuming job this time of the year and with the price of petrol, it eats away at the purse strings. Environmentally, petrol is never good news. Firstly it’s a non-renewable source and secondly the CO2 it emits contributes to global warming. When, oh when, is someone going to invent a biofuel lawn mower?
But in the meanwhile, it is worth considering traditional methods of grass control. Leaving some areas of your garden to grow wild creates a habitat for wildlife and will make your life easier. You can cut it down once a year using a scythe. (Yes, like the one the grim reaper carries…..) But first you have to master the art of scythe mowing. It’s not easy and takes a lot of practice as Denis demonstrated yesterday to a group of us. Keeping the blade on the ground, it’s all in the swing. A sharp blade is vital and you will find yourself stopping every 10 minutes to sharpen the blade. After a lot of patience and persistence you should get a rhythm going and well…I suppose it’s like learning to ride a bicycle.
Accomplished scythe mower Denis uses an Austrian scythe. It is a slightly different shape to the traditional Irish model and has a smaller blade. The two handles on the scythe are adjustable to fit your body size. The lower grip should reach your hip bone when the scythe is standing straight and if you rest your elbow on this handle the tips of your fingers should reach the top handle. Denis swears that not only is it cheaper, healthier and friendlier to the environment it is also quicker than a strimmer. Certainly, a weekly scythe would eliminate the need for expensive trips to the gym. I am determined to be “reaping” the benefits of scything before the year is out. Maybe I’ll start a club- it’ll be the new Zumba….anybody?
These very helpful instructions are from the Scythe Shop UK who also run courses:
Practice the motion on a bit of lawn or mown grass. Don’t even attempt to cut grass, until you can perform the following motion:
Swing the scythe around your body in a circular arc. The tip of the blade should describe the same arc as the beard (ie the near end of the blade. Keep the scythe blade on the ground at all times. Swivel on your waist and hips. Keep your hands at the same height above the ground at all times. Shift your weight from your right foot to the left as you make the stroke. Try flexing your knees, the right knee at the beginning of the stroke and the left knee at the end of the stroke.