Tried&Tested - Honda Versatool's Cultivator Attachment.
The burst of spring sunshine encouraged many gardeners outside last weekend to finish (or start) the backbreaking job of digging over their vegetable patches.
It certainly got me up to my allotment for the first time in a few weeks, and I made sure I took a Honda Versatool (www.honda.co.uk) with a cultivator head attachment to test out.
The Versatool comes with a choice of seven clip-on tool heads. Last year I found the brushcutter attachment more than a match for the brambles threatening the bottom of my allotment, thanks to its four-stroke engine – many power tools only have two-stroke engines.
So I was pleased to find the cultivator attachment is just as robust, churning through the soil a lot faster than I could have managed with a garden fork.
I also found the Versatool cultivator reasonably easy to handle: it is lighter than larger cultivators because of the mini-engine design, but just as effective as it dances over the soil digging down several inches and spitting out weeds.
However, like larger cultivators, you have to be reasonably strong to direct the rotating “teeth” in an orderly fashion, and after 15 minutes or so I had to rest my arms before firing up the machine again.
Thankfully, starting the engine is pretty easy and it only takes a few pulls on the starting chain to get the motor running.
The attachments available are a brushcutter, long hedge trimmer, pruner, short hedge trimmer, leaf blower and edger, as well as the cultivator. Prices start at £360 and £130 for additional attachments.
There is also an extension pole available so you don’t have to use a ladder for trimming high hedges, which is much safer.
Other safety features include a secondary clamp that you can push on after clicking the attachment on to the handle.
The quick release button makes changing attachments easy and you can hang them up in your shed or garage safely out of the way.
Of course, the only problem with using a cultivator is that you are left with chunks of weeds to collect up afterwards, and you sometimes need to get your garden fork out to make sure they are not still half rooted.
Cultivators can also cause more work if it chops up problem weeds such as couch grass, because each small piece of root can easily regenerate into a new plant.
So after I had finished using the cultivator I covered the soil with old carpet to prevent the weeds photosynthesising and regrowing.
By the time I am ready to plant up the area, any weeds left uprooted on the surface should have died off and be biodegrading into the soil.
The carpet will also help to warm up the soil ready for the potatoes I have been chitting on a windowsill, and the leek seedlings that are coming along nicely.
But before I plant anything I’ve got to go back to the allotment with the brushcutter attachment to chop down the brambles that are now fighting back.
I think the Versatool will be able to see them off.