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With such wonderful weather right now there is no place I would rather be than down my allotment enjoying the sunshine and tending to the crops, doing a bit of weeding and a bit of digging and generally enjoying the peace and quiet, away from the hustle and bustle that comes with living in London.
When you take on an allotment there are plenty of websites out there which give you hints and tips on what you need to get started and when we took on our allotment, the allotment society produced a really handy guide to getting started. Surprisingly you don't need to rush straight down to your garden centre, B&Q or Homebase to start buying everything in sight. The tools you need depend on your plot type and what you need to clear. Naturally a spade, shovel, fork, hoe and some good cutting scissors are beneficial but then once you have made a dent into clearing your patch the fun really begins with the tools you can buy.
It's a shame I can't add pictures to Dooyoo but in any case you will just have to use your imagination. The plot we have is long and oblong shaped and in allotment terms is a 10 pole allotment, which to you and I is around 250 square meters of land that we pay a fee for each year. So over the past year the Husband (Gingaro) and I have worked on removing excess weeds, brambles, Japanese knotweed and now excess grass is being removed and this has been done through digging using a spade and a fork and then onto what is called a twist tiller for the soil. Now having rotovated half of the plot and dug out the roots of some of the more difficult to deal with weeds I needed to be able to break the soil up a little more and that's when I came across the 'Wolf Garten DAS Multi-Change Soil Miller' which costs between £29.99 and £45 depending on where you purchase it from.
Wolf Garten is a well known German brand of gardening and allotment tools and equipment that have been around for 35 years. Their range of tools and equipment is quite vast ranging from your more traditional tools such as spades and forks right up to the more funky looking multi-change tools which the Soil Miller is one of. By Multi-change it means that you have one specific handle for each different tool which simply slots on and off at one end of that handle, its like a man sized universal tool that your Dad would have with a corkscrew, screwdriver, pliers all in one thing which he swore you would always need.
So the Wolf Garten Soil Miller is described as being "ingenious tool is a favourite with allotment holders nationwide as it can save literally hours of work on the plot". So an ingenious tool which looks like some sort of contraption my Dad would make in his garage to complete every gardening job that needed to be done, only to fall apart a few hours into the job. So looking at this Soil Miller the first thing to notice is that it has four star shaped spikes made of stainless steel, which look and are extremely sharp and they sit on a roller which allow the spikes to turn in the soil when it is used. The other part of this tool is what is referred to as the 'rear blade' or the 'oscillating hoe' to give it its proper name and this helps to cut through larger clumps of soil and weeds and this helps keep a constant depth. The only other thing you need to use this tool is the handle. The handle itself is sold separately and costs between £7 and £15 depending on where it is that you purchase it from and the handle fits over 50 different tools from the Wolf Garten selection. So the handle is a definite must have for any tool you might be considering purchasing.
Putting the soil miller together isn't as difficult as it looks. Once you have attached the handle to the actual tool itself, which is an easy slot in and locking system and then using the release button to remove the handle from the slot on every tool from this range is the same shape and size. The handle itself is described as being "Ideal for gardeners who are 5'5" or over in height" which includes me just because I am 5'6" tall but there are other handles available for differing heights. Also like every tool within this range it comes with a 10 year guarantee.
Once the contraption is put together the fun can begin. After you have rotovated your ground, there are more often than not large chunks of the earth which haven't been broken down for one reason or another, usually because there is a big weed root growing right through it that needs to be removed. The star shaped spikes at the front of the soil miller run through most of the big clumps of mud and soil with no problem and they are worked down further by the oscillating hoe as you push the device through the lumps and bumps you see it breaking the soil down so that it becomes much more workable and manageable. Some of the weeds which are brought up will need more work to remove further weeds and their roots.
Until I started to use this tool, I thought the word 'ingenious' was a little over the top, however as someone who has spent many hours digging, raking and tiring myself out and ending up with lots of aches and pains, I think the word 'ingenious' is not quite enough, it is an absolute god-send to use because when you do use it you are upright the entire time because the handle is selected for your height, so rather than being bent over like you would be using a fork or spade you remain upright and merely push the soil miller along, using increased pressure where necessary. Then once your soil has become finally milled it should be ready for the adding of any manure, which again you can use this product to mix the manure into the soil and then all that is left for you to do is plant your crops, seeds and bulbs and wait for them to grow.
As you can imagine after a few hours of dragging this tool through the soil it becomes quite dirty and in need of cleaning. Whenever I clean mine I use flash wipes to remove the mud and ingrained dirt and it is back to new.
Now that I have this tool I have used it to replace raking the ground after rotovating and it definitely makes life a lot easier and I can use it for milling, weeding and raking all at once instead of having to chance tools and it is less labour intensive and I absolutely love using it and cannot recommend it highly enough.