A friend received a set of bronze gardening tools for Christmas. The craftsman-made tools look fabulous on the website and the claims are impressive as they ‘are kinder to slugs and snails, meaning no need for chemicals or insect repellent’. Unfortunately no-one treated me to a designer sickle that protects herbs through ‘copper-ion-protection’ thus retaining the ‘ingredients, minerals, vitamins and etheric oils’. Another company  professes each bronze tool ‘enriches the soil with trace elements’. They make other claims. A further company also lists the advantages of its copper tools – bronze being predominantly copper with tin added. Copper ‘does not disrupt the electrical fields in the soil’. One fact is indisputable and that’s the cost. These are at least four or five times the price of stainless steel equivalents. Sadly as I don’t have any bronze tools and my friend has been unable to hoe ice I can’t vouch for the efficacy of these wonder tools.

I did however receive no fewer than two sets of stainless steel hand tools for Christmas. Stainless steel is tried and tested in our garden. I doubt whether they add trace elements to soil and I’m not too sure about those electrical fields but stainless steel is stronger than bronze and slugs don’t like being neatly sliced by a sharp, hand-held implement.

Conducting this cutting edge investigation has revealed some pertinent information about copper, slugs and snails following research by the RHS at Wisley in 2018 who discovered that copper does not deter the pests after all. Which renders another overly optimistic purchase redundant. I’m going to cut the tape into bits and copper-ionise the soil.

I imagine all those proud possessors of bronze gardening tools, eyes feasting on their gorgeous, rustless artefacts as they work away with the steel sharpening file. They’ll get plenty of practice.

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