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Affordable solution to knock back weeds?  RSS feed

 
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I was in the market for a Scythe until I realized outfits cost $300.
Usually it’s 100 for blade, 100 for snath, 50 for peening jig, and 50 for shipping. (I’m in California.) I’ve gotten quotes from all the popular vendors listed here. I was shocked a hand tool was this pricey!
I have a 1/2 acre hilly plot with weeds that have gone to seed for at least two seasons.
Can anyone recommend a solution for 100 bucks or less that will be permaculture friendly (not muck up the soil or spew gas)?
I would love to use a Scythe but it’s too much.
Thank you
 
pollinator
Posts: 313
Location: Western Washington
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You could maybe try an electric weedwacker. Mine works really well. I'm not sure if the cheaper ones are worth it, though. 1/2 an acre is a lot of area to cover, but maybe you could try cardboard if you can get enough of it. A lot of businesses have tons of waste cardboard they are willing to give away, depending on the area. You just need to weigh it down with rocks on each corner or mulch. I was in a similar situation once but ended up with a scythe eventually and found it was much less effective than the hype
 
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Depending on the growth you're dealing with, and in what kind of environment/volume, some options to consider are bush hooks, slashers, corn hooks, or long, thin machetes. There are also so-called brush cutters and "weed whips", though I really hate to recommend them unless the skill of the user is quite low--they work, and they're cheap, but they're exhausting to use for extended periods because of their inefficient cutting mechanic.

Scythes are an investment, not just in money, but in the time to learn how to use them most effectively. Once you know what you're doing with one (and it has about the same learning curve as using a straight razor) they're an incredibly powerful and versatile tool that's more than worth the effort.
 
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Matt Browne wrote:
I have a 1/2 acre hilly plot with weeds that have gone to seed for at least two seasons.
Can anyone recommend a solution for 100 bucks or less that will be permaculture friendly (not muck up the soil or spew gas)?


Get/rent a cow, sheep, goats or alike?
 
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Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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Matt

As you don't put any info in your profile, I don't know where you're located. But if you're near enough to any community of, say, 1000+, it may be worth your time to spend half a day each week "recreational shopping" the used market.  Find where people post their sales, whether craigslist, bulletin boards, local newspaper classifieds, Saturday morning radio (yes, truly, in the deep midwest). And let hardware store personnel know what you're looking for - they see a lot of people who use many tools for long periods of time, and occasional get rid of some. And any other people that might get the word out for you. If you're on a driving trip, swallow your pride and stop at the "antique" shops like any other tourist. Also, when you're on the road on the weekend, stop at the "garage sale" signs.

The above applies to just about anything you're looking for. I have two old scythes  from a garage sale 10-15 years ago in Skokie, IL a suburb of Chicago at least 60 minutes away from any kind of pasture land. One has a very marginal snath, but at $15 and $25 and a few hours work to clean them up, they can have a space on my wall and earn their keep for a few hours each year. You can find stuff like that too, but it helps to make a habit of looking around regularly. And everywhere. I was visiting the family of a friend in Colorado Springs and go bored with the BBQ and went for a drive - happened on a farm auction and one of my small regrets in life is not getting the old vise I saw there for $12.

But if you need something NOW... Well, that's when you fork over the buck$.


Cheers,
Rufus
 
pollinator
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A book of matches and a non-windy day?  :>)  

Borrowing a neighbor's goat is pretty inexpensive.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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It's worth noting that while, indeed, it's possible to find excellent deals on an old scythe at yard sales, it will almost certainly be of the American type (that's fine--I prefer them, personally, though I own numerous varieties from across the globe) which have different "care and feeding" requirements than the Euro sort, and it can be difficult to consistently get a good quality candidate for restoration if you don't already know what to look for. The restoration process itself typically takes me at least 8 hours of continuous, active labor to bring a vintage find up to ready-to-mow condition, and that's with knowing what I'm doing and having some specialized equipment handy that speeds up the process. It's well worth the effort, but an option best undertaken by those who are already at least moderately savvy with restoration work and very basic wood- and metal-working skills, with at least a spoke shave, rasps, a sturdy vise, an anvil surface of some kind (for working out kinks in the blade, if present), and a suitable cool-cutting grinding tool like a specially-formulated grinding point or a wet grinder.
 
Mike Homest
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Matt Browne wrote:I was in the market for a Scythe until I realized outfits cost $300.
Usually it’s 100 for blade, 100 for snath, 50 for peening jig, and 50 for shipping. (I’m in California.) I’ve gotten quotes from all the popular vendors listed here. I was shocked a hand tool was this pricey!
I have a 1/2 acre hilly plot with weeds that have gone to seed for at least two seasons.
Can anyone recommend a solution for 100 bucks or less that will be permaculture friendly (not muck up the soil or spew gas)?
I would love to use a Scythe but it’s too much.
Thank you



I see blades (vintage) starting from 10 US$ on ebay, complete Scythe starting at 60 US$?
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Mike Homest wrote:

Matt Browne wrote:I was in the market for a Scythe until I realized outfits cost $300.
Usually it’s 100 for blade, 100 for snath, 50 for peening jig, and 50 for shipping. (I’m in California.) I’ve gotten quotes from all the popular vendors listed here. I was shocked a hand tool was this pricey!
I have a 1/2 acre hilly plot with weeds that have gone to seed for at least two seasons.
Can anyone recommend a solution for 100 bucks or less that will be permaculture friendly (not muck up the soil or spew gas)?
I would love to use a Scythe but it’s too much.
Thank you



I see blades (vintage) starting from 10 US$ on ebay, complete Scythe starting at 60 US$?



See my above post. Vintage units, even when found in new-old-stock condition, need a decent amount of work to get them ready to mow. At a minimum, the blade needs to be ground and honed and the tang angle heated and bent to the proper angle for the given user. The nib (side handle) bands may need to be resized to fit snug at their appropriate positions for the user's dimensions. This is all pretty easy for someone who knows what they're doing already and has a clear idea of their end goal, but can be a real challenge for someone who doesn't even know what "sharp" means for a scythe just yet.
 
Posts: 92
Location: Illinois USA - USDA Zone 5b
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For less than $100 it is difficult to find a solution for 1/2 acre.

Goats require fencing. You might be able to create a moveable electric fenced pen for that budget. They can eat many weeds, but not all. Look at the species growing to be sure they aren’t poisonous to goats. You would have to move the pen daily until the entire 1/2 acre was cleared. Think of a chicken tractor, only larger, for goats.

Speaking of chickens, they do a decent job of clearing land also. With enough time and daily moving, it might be feasible to clear 1/2 acre via chicken tractor, depending on terrain.

Brush cutters are hard work. I would hate to clear 1/2 acre with one. But they are cheap. If you are young and strong it’s an option. I used one when I was MUCH younger! :D

Depending on fire hazard conditions in your area, and your expertise, a controlled burn could potentially solve your problem, but NOT in areas where wildfires are a risk. In my region this is the preferred method. It could be criminal in other areas, so learn about your area before you do anything with fire.

Electric weed eaters at the below $100 price point do not have the juice to clear 1/2 acre. Possibly you could do it in small segments over time, like with the animal tractors mentioned above.

Hope this helps a little. :)

 
Mike Homest
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Benjamin Bouchard wrote:

Mike Homest wrote:

Matt Browne wrote:I was in the market for a Scythe until I realized outfits cost $300.
[..]
I would love to use a Scythe but it’s too much.



I see blades (vintage) starting from 10 US$ on ebay, complete Scythe starting at 60 US$?



See my above post. Vintage units, even when found in new-old-stock condition, need a decent amount of work to get them ready to mow. At a minimum, the blade needs to be ground and honed and the tang angle heated and bent to the proper angle for the given user. The nib (side handle) bands may need to be resized to fit snug at their appropriate positions for the user's dimensions. This is all pretty easy for someone who knows what they're doing already and has a clear idea of their end goal, but can be a real challenge for someone who doesn't even know what "sharp" means for a scythe just yet.



I see your point, but even a new Scythe needs sharpening and experience/training to get 2000 or so m² done. Especially if you have lots of stones and alike in the terrain Some cheapo/used small brush-cutter should be much easier to use. Though I dislike all the plastic you loose in the soil, but those metal blades tend to get damaged if you happen to have many stones. At least there are two companies selling fibers that are 100% biodegradable, though of course more expensive then the casual plastic crap.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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There's a big difference between needing grinding and needing routine honing. Touching up even a damaged edge that was recently ground to proper shape is much less work than grinding a vintage blade for the first time in goodness knows how many decades. It's a lot more metal to hog off. Generally the learning process is easiest if you start with a ready-to-mow kit from a specialty retailer so you have an idea of what you're shooting for, and it gets easier from there.

Something like an Italian "Scansano" pattern slasher on the end of a pole with a single nib, ridden on the ground like a scythe or a "Sardegna" pattern used with an underhand stroke like a bush hook would probably do the job well enough. It's just the stubble it'd leave would be higher and less even than using a scythe.
 
Rufus Laggren
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I happened on these two old scythes today in a resale shop northwest of Chicago. The price tags say $6 and $7. I just glanced at them but was moving quickly and did not pull them out of their pile to check carefully;  they should be worth that at least. From what I saw, the blades have metal left to work with; the snaths are on the wrong side of marginal but everything looks to be there. Just possibly if the snaths were slathered with boiled linseed oil for a week or two, they might be workable for a season of gentle mowing; maybe with a couple of wrappings with #22 copper wire at critical places. They would need wedges and shims etc to install adequately into the blade.

They seemed to have been there a while and the counter told me that prices went down after a few months. Shipping/handling would might amount to $40 ?. These might provide somebody with the time (a lot of time, as Benjamin pointed out) and work shop with bench vise and such a way to look into scythes for an initial $50.

The seller:
Alden Resale
Gary & Carol Shulz
(land line: 8 wun fv - sx fore ate - 4 fv fore 5)
aldenresale.net
aldenresale  a.t    msn.  cawm

Sorry for the hieroglyphics - I try not to feed bots.


FWIW,
Rufus
scythes_blade.jpg
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scythes_snath.jpg
[Thumbnail for scythes_snath.jpg]
 
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