Up the ladder, without a wobble

This is one of those lustful garden posts that I make no apology for. Since we saw the Henchman ladders at the home shows a year or two ago they’ve been on my wish list. But no longer, as we finally took the plunge and bought a six foot tripod ladder with three adjustable legs, and I was probably a little bit too excited about it.

I’m a bit wobbly up ladders you see. But when I nominated MOH to try one out at Grand Designs earlier this year, he was impressed too. So when our existing stepladder became even more wobbly than before (and without any extra help too I’ll add) there was only one choice for us both.

The decision really was, what size and how many adjustable legs.

My new henchman ladder

And in case you’re wondering, we went for 6ft and 3 adjustable legs.

adjustable legs henchman tripod ladder

As you can see that gives us quite a bit of flexibility. We probably could have gone for a larger size, but we wanted to make sure it went in the shed. But the three adjustable legs are great. Our garden isn’t flat or level, not many are in reality are they, and with the slate beds around the grass this will come in really handy.

What we should have bought at the same time is the rubber feet, not because we need them for the garden but because we both think this is going to be a useful purchase and it’s more than likely that we’ll use it indoors too.

3 legs on my ladder

The lowest step is a way off the ground but it’s do-able, even for me, and the extra stability and confidence in the stability are worth it. It’s really light too so is easy for me to move from one end of the garden to the other. I used it at the weekend to tame the out of control chilean potato plant which was growing at least three foot above the top of the fence.

6 foot henchman tripod ladder

And for a change MOH didn’t have to stay close by while I was up the ladder (I really am that wobbly up a ladder), the only trouble is it’s much easier to cut more down and clearing it all up back on ground level really isn’t much fun at all.

At some point I’m sure I’ll let MOH use our new purchase, but perhaps not just yet.

A quiet blow for my leaves

Brrrr... It's a tad on the cold side right now isn't it? I know I was tempting fate by anticipating wind this weekend, but I didn't necessarily need, or want, the cold weather to accompany it. But at least it was dry. And the skies were blue. But still it was cold.  My two concrete hares in the garden looked as if they were quite enjoying their blanket of leaves, but we were keen to get the leaves off of the slate.

Hares and a blanket of leaves

There was also a pile of leaves gathering along the fence, and while the euphorbias (and weeds) are valiantly doing there best to grow through the leaves, I'm not sure they're doing the patio much good.  That really eaten and and almost lacy set of leaves belong to a weed, with no doubt a huge tap root. I'm not sure what's eating it, but it's having a pretty good go isn't it?

Leaves accumulating in corners of our garden

But first, leaf duties

Wellies on, gloves on, blower at the ready and I was set. I was expecting my new Stihl BGA 56 Blower to be quiet, but I wasn't expecting quite so much power from this lightweight and relatively small garden tool.
Getting to grips with the Stihl leaf blower

My plan was to blow the leaves into orderly piles, and that generally worked, but the grass also got a bit of a blow and it gave the impression that it was clinging on for dear life.  All the grass stayed in place, of course, but it was noticeably moved. 

Neatly and quietly choralled into a pile

Once the leaves were in piles, they were quickly bagged and set aside to do their thing, and provide fantastic leaf mould in a year or two.  Where this blower will come in handy will be retrieving leaves from our flower beds, as you can see from the photo below I've been giving the leaves fair warning!

A new and welcome tool in our garden - the Stihl BG56 leafblower

It was still chilly though out there - the joys of having a north facing garden - even though we were wrapped up and with glimpses of sun there were only short bursts of work. We've still leaves to collect - mostly in the flowerbeds now.  If the snow takes hold as the forecasters would have us believe, they might have another week's grace.

Leaves? What leaves!

But parts of the garden are looking much less leaf covered, and smarter for it too. We know there's little chance of us capturing every single leaf in the garden, so it'll be a bit of an ongoing project. But one that's a whole lot more fun - and productive - than doing it by hand!

* This is a collaborative post, but all views and opinions are my own.

Anticipating wind this weekend

A week or so ago I unboxed a new garden tool from Stihl, which I'm fully expecting to help us tame the leaves in our garden.  You can see from the first photo in my conservatory plans post just how many trees we have in our garden (just) and how they're all pretty much bare right now. As you know all those leaves have to go somewhere and I can tell you it's not up, it's most definitely down and along some. We've leaves covering the flower beds, in the slate (much to MOH's disdain) and quite a few have sought solace together in random sheltered spots around the garden. You know the places that you'll twist and turn to get into and then struggle to turn and twist to get out of without dropping the clutch of leaves you've gathered. 

Yes exactly.  Collecting leaves by hand is often a futile task, and one that kills your back, even more than digging I think. 

But leaves are good. Well rotted down leaves are good, so in a year or two's time, the leaves that are creating quiet chaos in our garden will be the stars of the show, providing valuable leaf mould. We've a leaf mould compost bin over on the allotment as well as a smaller bin in our garden, as we gather sack fulls of leaves. And as we'll use most of the leaf mould on the plot, it made sense to "make" leaf mould there, of course the challenge is to get the sacks of leaves over there in the first place, but that's a small logistics matter...

Did you know that the simple black sack is your friend when it comes to leaf mould?  

Making leaf mould is one of the few things I use black sacks for, and I buy the cheapest ones I can get hold of. Before I fill it with leaves I take great joy in laying the sacks out on the grass and stabbing them with my garden fork. The leaves need some air, and I tell MOH that it's good for his grass too...

If your leaves are wet then simply fill your sacks and tie the top and leave in a quiet corner of your garden until you find them about the same time next year, when you can give them a look and see how they're doing. Depending on what kind of leaves you have, they may take longer to do their thing, but it won't be long before you've got some fabulous homemade goodness to use in your garden.

But back to my new garden tool

You'll know I'm an advocate of STIHL, the company and its products and am already the proud owner of a compact grass trimmer which now I regularly "wrestle" MOH for. It's his favourite too, but don't worry I do pull rank and claim it back as my own, most of the time... Sometimes it's just as well to let him get on with it, while he's happy.

The new tool I've unboxed is a compact cordless blower, hence the prediction for more wind to come at the weekend.  Once again it features a 36V Lithium-ion battery and Stihl's quiet technology, which they say on their website means you don't need to wear ear protection. Remembering my visit to their Competence Centre in Kufstein and the work and testing they undertake on their products, I'm looking forward to hearing - or rather not hearing - what they've achieved with this model.

It's arrived - my Stihl leaf blower (BGA 56)
Unboxing my Stihl BGA 56
The rechargeable battery on the STIHL BGA56

Like the grass trimmer before it, this is easy to manage and designed to be easy to use.  There's a couple of other features which I'll be testing out at the weekend, these include the length-adjustable blower tube which can be adjusted for whoever's using it to ensure that the blowing force (now get me) remains at the optimum level to make short work of those leaves and twigs.

Taking a closer look at the Stihl BGA 56

The blurb says that everything you need to operate the blower control functions and the safety locking lever are incorporated easily into the handle, which has been designed so it's easy to use for both right or left-handers. I'm sure that for many lefties, that's music to their ears. 

Waiting for my battery to charge
So let's hope the weather is as nice as it was last weekend (sadly I don't think I'm going to be that lucky), or at least let's hope the only wind around is the self-made sort courtesy of my new leaf blower! I'll let you know how I get on, but in the meantime if you want the technical details they're readily available on the Stihl site.

* This is a collaborative post, but all views are my own.