The odd bit of weeding can be mindful and meditative—head down in the borders, it’s easy to drift away as you pull out pesky roots and unwanted seedlings. But when the soils starts to warm up in spring, those same beds can suddenly be carpeted with freshly sprouted growth. And as with most jobs there’s the perfect tool for this.
The Nunki weeder is a beech handled tool with a sharp, curved blade in a horseshoe shape; pull it gently over the top of the soil and it will slice away at annual weeds, which can then just be raked free of the earth. Like a small hoe, the Nunki works quickly to eradicate weeds and moves easily between any perennial plants or shrubs you want to protect, with minimal disruption to the soil.
But this is a double-edged sword—because this tool (which is made from 95% copper) is not only very strong but is also thought to leave trace minerals in the soil that wards off slugs and snails, too, and improve soil health. It’s made by PKS Bronze, which produces a whole range of equally beautiful and task-targeted tools, all with copper blades and solid wooden handles. The company was launched when Viktor Schauberger, a forester turned inventor and engineer, first researched the effects of using copper machinery in the 1940s (field trials showed higher yields and fewer pests where a copper plated plough had been used). But it wasn’t until the 1990s that his descendants put his ideas and research into production with a range of copper tools.
In England the tools are sold at Implementations and the store’s founder, Jane Cobbold, had a similar lightbulb moment two decades ago when she first started to use the tools on a vegetable plot that was overrun with slugs and snails; suddenly the damage was dramatically reduced. (Today, she has handed over the reigns of the business, and the company has moved to its new home at Waltham Place, an organic and biodynamic farm in Berkshire, England.)
For more on tools, see:
- 5 Old-Fashioned Tools for the Modern-Day Gardener
- Tools of the Trade: Japanese Garden Tools
- Landscaping 101: A Garden Arsenal to Fight Weeds