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The bio-intensive garden is a very interesting method of cultivation because it wants to be at the same time natural and productive, respectful of all forms of life. So also of your back!
In order to work comfortably and effectively, some tools recently conceived and designed to give are used maximum ergonomics. These tools are manuals: no noisy and polluting tractors. It is worth discovering these tools, they are often very simple ideas, which can concretely improve the life of those who cultivate.
From the grelinette to the cycle cultivator, let's talk about modern equipment, well designed to work effectively and pleasantly… With a straight back! Certainly not a small thing for those who cultivate the vegetable garden, whether it is a small family production or income agriculture.
The importance of practical equipment
The bio-intensive garden is a method of professional cultivation. To have a productive and not very strenuous manual agriculture you need intelligent tools, capable of optimize time cultivator and enable him to work comfortably.
This way of treating vegetables has ancient roots: it was born in Paris in 1800. For unknown reasons it disappeared at the beginning of the First World War. It had enabled the French capital to be self-sufficient in vegetables for a century!
The birth of the bio-intensive method. If you want to follow us on an interesting journey in the Paris of the 1800s, we will discover together where this cultivation method was born.
For about fifteen years, the bio-intensive vegetable garden, also called the Market Garden, has been convincing more and more professional gardeners all over the world and also in Italy. Thanks to an excellent organization of crops the farmer can easily optimize his work. Scientific studies carried out on the French farm "la ferme du Bec Hellouin", In collaboration with the Agricultural University of Paris, demonstrate how the right manual care allows you to produce many vegetables in a small space, at the same speed as in fields cultivated with a tractor. The pages of “Miraculous Abundance” tell this story, a beautiful book. It is not an agriculture manual but rather the story of their experience, it seems a fairy tale, but it is true! Reading it you will want to become a farmer, a book to keep on the bedside table and to give to friends.
Today, many growers who practice the bio-intensive garden put their ingenuity at the service of the community, sharing their experiences on social media. Through this sharing of knowledge and practices it was possible develop super ergonomic hand tools that are comfortable to use, like the ones we will discover below.
In the bio-intensive vegetable garden, the gardener first of all cultivates the soil, not only looks at the health of the plants but also establishes a symbiosis between all forms of life present in the garden. With his work he creates the ideal living conditions for everyone, from the most microscopic living being through the earthworm, and obviously also for himself. The biological treatment of diseases ensures a poison-free environment, healthy even for us humans. The tools we use must take this approach into account and be respectful of the ground and of all life, even microscopic, contained in it.
The soil of the bio-intensive garden. As in all gardens, the land must be fine to ensure a good harvest. Let's see in detail how to best take care of the soil.
The grelinette is a particular gallows invented by a Frenchman in the 60s. Wider than the normal fork spade it allows to work the soil in depth without overturning it. The soil is not the same on the surface as it is in depth: overturning it means killing many beings
living things that compose it. A pity, especially because it is these microorganisms that feed our plants ...
With the grelinette the earth is ventilated but its structure remains intact. This allows it to be naturally soft. In the bio-intensive garden it is used instead of the cutter. Give it a try, it's cheap and you will immediately realize a greater difference ... With the grelinette you work with the singing of birds and the buzz of bees; without the smell of petrol ... Not bad right ?!
Specially invented to work even in difficult terrain it can be used without problems when the earth is clayey. The ergonomics of this tool have been specifically designed to protect your back and save fatigue. There are many different models, not all of them are valid. It must have two handles, personally I prefer that they are made of wood so they don't get hot in the summer sun. The teeth must be made of a quality metal and fixed very well to the tool. They must not be more than 20 cm long. I personally rely on a blacksmith in France who quickly ships his tools at a competitive price.
The grelinette or aero forca. This very useful tool is almost unknown in Italy, it is worth learning more and maybe experimenting with its use.
The cycle cultivator
The cycle cultivator (or weelhoe) is a tool very versatile, let's not be scared by the high-sounding name: it is. very easy to use. Many tools can be mounted on the same cycle cultivator, which are interchangeable. A tool for every job. There is a wide range of accessories to manage the various cultivation needs. Used with the oscillating weeder creates an excellent seed or transplant bed, makes it quick and easy weeding and weeding. With the Bio discs you can also make the holster on carrots, beets, fennel and other vegetables. Comfortable!
It is an equipment suitable for good sized gardens, where it can replace the hoe. In Italy you can find the Terrateck cycle cultivator, with all its accessories from Officina Walden
The oscillating weeder
Imagine a weeder who doesn't break your back… Nice to think, right?
The oscillating weeder allows you to weed young weeds and break the crust formed on the soil surface. It is a blade fixed with a pin on a wooden handle. The fact that it does not have a fixed angle allows the blade to always be parallel to the ground, adapting the inclination to the movement. Unfortunately it is not easy to find oscillating weeds in garden centers, I always recommend Officina Walden.
Standing up, your back straight and your lumbar muscles relaxed, you will remove all the herbs that prevent the good development of your vegetables. At the same time ventilate the soil surface. What more could you ask for?
Sowing by hand is rarely done well, because it is inevitably not very precise. Often too many seeds are sown and it is necessary to thin out or too few seeds are sown and many spontaneous ones are born. There are various models of manual seeder, I'm not happy with everyone ... The JP1 is a precision seeder, it works in all types of terrain.
Unfortunately, its price reserves it to professionals or to truly passionate hobbyists. I don't know of any seed drill of this quality at a lower price. Even if it is not so bad to do without it for a small garden, the ideal would be to use a seeder even on a small scale.
For those who cannot use it a little trick: Mix your 50/50 seeds with river sand or topsoil. IS hop! Sowing by hand becomes more uniform. Rudimentary.
Tools for transplanting
Transplanting by hand is a pleasure. But strangely the paddles are not very ergonomic, after a while they hurt the wrist. Have you ever noticed how strange and unnatural the angle of our hand and arm is when we transplant? Over time it creates health problems for professionals.
Anyone who wants to spare his wrist must change the angle of the mannequin to have it at 90 ° of the headstock. In this way the tool becomes much more ergonomic.
For professionals there is an absolutely extraordinary tool: Paperpot.Invented in Korea, it turns hours of work into minutes! The Paperpot is a super convenient manual transplanter!
What tools are needed in the family garden
A hobbyist doesn't need all these tools to start his bio-intensive garden! In fact, you already have everything you need.
Instead of the grelinette it can be used a simple spade gallows. Although it is less comfortable and takes you longer to do the job, you will get the same result as with a grelinette.
If your garden is small you can use a rake to make fine earth on the surface, it is certainly not compulsory to have a cycle cultivator. For weeding it is also fine the hoe… If used correctly.
The bio-intensive garden is first of all a comfortable organization of cultivation.
The bio-intensive method. Let's deepen the principles and practices of this very interesting cultivation method.
Anyone who tries it will realize that you can grow more than you think in a very small space. The tools only serve to make work smoother, less tiring and more precise. If you sell your tiller you will have enough money to buy all the tools a hobbyist needs and even invite your friends to the restaurant!
For those wishing to learn more about the secrets of the bio-intensive garden, I invite you to read the other articles published on the site, and I also recommend reading the book by Jean Martin Fortier "Cultivating Bio with Success".
The garden must create a pleasure! They are places to relax, to empty yourself from thoughts and find your smile again. They must be beautiful to look at and offer healthy, beautiful and tasty food. Grown with passion and cooked with love, they are the secret of health!
Article by Emile Jacquet. Photographs by Elisa Scarpa (@ elisascarpa.travelphotography) and Nicola Savio (Walden workshop).
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