The Real Seed Reference Library:

'How To ....' Guides to help you save your seed & harvest grains

As time allows (always busy growing seed!), we add to this section:

A few recipes to help you use up your surplus

What's Ben up to in the Potting Shed?



Some Thoughts on Good and Useful Tools you may not know about

OK, this is a short list, but here are a few tools you really should know about. Quite simply, these tools will change your life.

The first is a scythe. No, seriously. Modern scythes come in many sizes including small ones specifically designed for the garden. Having fought with various petrol and electric strimmers over the years, it was a complete revelation when we finally tried a scythe just for fun. Two strokes and Ben was convinced. A completely superior tool, and not just for cutting corn. Simon Fairlie from Tinkers Bubble has found some of the last few real scythe manufacturers in Austria. A one-man scythe revival, he's doing a great job. Check out his website at ! It really helps to be taught by someone, as there is a 'knack' to it, but there is now a how-to-scythe DVD available, Simon might have them.

Secondly, a European digging mattock, called an Azada. Not the heavy pointy thing we call a 'mattock' in the UK! Most small-scale peasant farmers in europe have only one tool - and this is it. Hard to describe but simply incredible in the way that at last you can dig without backache. We couldn't possibly grow all that we do without them. Luckily, Simon Drummond is importing them from Spain, and you can get them from his website at although you'll need to cut the handle down to proper length (1m); his come far too long.

And, two hoes that will make keeping your garden weed-free a much more painless task: Firstly, the Collinear hoe - an ultra light-weight, extremely sharp hoe that slices the weeds off with minimal effort. Use in the 'thumbs up' position as described by Eliot Coleman in his book (see below) for easy weeding with no backache.

For those with a big plot and too much weeding for a hand hoe, try the wheel hoe - and hoe your whole plot in the time it would have taken to do a couple of rows. The wheelhoe isn't cheap, but definitely worth it if you garden on a bigger scale. We tracked down both and bought them direct from their Swiss manufacturer after reading about them, but Dave Taylor at Blackberry Lane has now had had the time and energy to organise importing both the collinear and wheel hoes into the UK - see his shop at for more details.