Is it any wonder that men (by which I mean grown up boys) confine their gardening to the lawn nowadays?
There’s no doubt about it, gardening was more fun in the old days. You didn’t just venture out with a spade or a trowel; if the mood took you, you could use a stick of dynamite or a blow torch instead. The dynamite was used to prepare beds for cultivating as an alternative to double-digging, or for removing tree stumps or for making a hole in which to plant a tree. Trials were carried out under the auspices of the Royal Horticultural Society which showed that explosives placed 18 inches apart and 3 feet deep would prepare the soil more effectively than traditional digging methods.
Even more fun could be had with a blow torch. There were two types – the Aetna, which produced a 9 inch flame and the Tarantella which gave a 14 inch flame. The main purpose of the blow lamp was to kill off weeds but they were also used against garden pests such as the turnip fly and woolly aphids, and the most fun was had by going out at night and zapping slugs and snails.
This is how it was summed up in a lecture to the RHS by Herbert E. Durham Sc.D.,M.B., B.C., F.R.C.S.:
“Notwithstanding the addition of explosives and blow-lamps to our gardening apparatus, I think that you will probably agree with me that we have not yet arrived at a sort of horticultural millennium when all deep cultivation will be done with explosives, when the surface weeding will be done with a blow-lamp and specimens of the spade and fork become some of the most valued antiques in a museum of the Royal Horticultural Society”.*
*Journal of the RHS, Volume 40