Organic farming: a flat cutter instead of a cultivator

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On the way of every person to his dream – his own well-groomed and fragrant piece of land, there are, at first glance, insurmountable obstacles: incredibly hard physical labor and large financial costs. And it takes a lot of time. So isn’t the dream destined to come true? Today we will talk about “how to make a fairy tale come true”. It will be about a unique invention of the twenty-first century – Fokin’s plane cutter.

Organic farming: a flat cutter instead of a cultivator

In the previous articles of the cycle about organic farming “Main features” and “Stop destroying the soil by digging and weeding”, we decided that deep moldboard tillage has a detrimental effect on the structure and fertility of the soil, destroys soil inhabitants. As a result, the amount of humus is catastrophically reduced, and the earth dies.

Back in the 40s of the twentieth century, E. Faulkner in America and T. Maltsev in Russia proved that in order to restore land fertility, the moldboard plow must be replaced with a moldboard plow cutter. In the 50s and 60s, machine plane cutters of various designs were patented in the USA and Canada, which are still widely used in most farms today. In the 70s and 80s, Russian scientists-agronomists (A.I.Baraev and F.T.Morgun) invented the first domestic machine flat cutter, and thanks to their efforts and efforts, non-moldboard tillage spread at that time in Kazakhstan, Siberia and Trans-Urals, and later came to the central part of Russia, to Ukraine. Some progressive farms of the countries of the former CIS still use machine flat cutters for processing their fields, but, unfortunately, there are not so many of them..

Modern field processing

In vegetable gardens and small household plots where the land is cultivated by hand, such a tool came relatively recently. In 2000, the Russian engineer-inventor Vladimir Vasilyevich Fokin patented a manual flat cutter. This event became the starting point in the development of organic farming, which every year gains more and more fans among people who love and understand nature, as well as among those who value their work and take care of their health..

Vladimir Vasilievich Fokin - Towards the earth with science

In his book “Towards the Earth with Science” V.V. Fokin claims that with the help of his tool it is possible to perform about twenty types of work at an incredible speed for an ordinary gardener – weaving per hour, that is, a standard plot of six hundred parts can be processed in one day … Fokin’s flat cutter replaces almost all the tools that are in the sheds of every gardener, not only a shovel and a hoe, but also a rake, pitchfork, scythe.

Having mastered the correct technique of work, with the help of this tool in two days off you can do as much work as you did before in one and a half to two weeks. And this – without unpleasant consequences, back pain and calluses on the hands. As Fokin himself says, the plane cutter was invented out of necessity, when after a heart attack he could no longer work at full strength. Circumstances made me think about how to work the soil without straining – and this is how a manual flat cutter appeared.

Well-groomed vegetable garden

And the most valuable feature of Fokin’s invention is that this tool allows you to work the land to a shallow depth (5-7 centimeters), which helps to increase the humus layer and restore fertility. Let’s figure out how to work correctly with this unique tool..

How to properly prepare a flat cutter for work

Today, in specialized stores, you can find two types of flat cutter – large and small. The large one is used for all basic work in the garden (loosening, cutting ridges, hilling, and so on), and the small one is intended for jewelry work between plants in the beds (mainly weed removal).

Fokin's flat cutter

The design of both types is absolutely identical. A plane cutter is a specially curved and sharpened blade that is attached to the handle with bolts. Just big – the blade is longer.

After buying a flat cutter, you need to choose the right handle for it and screw the blade correctly. It should be noted that the best option would be a shank of exactly a quadrangular shape, since it provides reliable bolting. In addition, such a handle is convenient to hold in your hands – a round handle can be taken in different ways, and a quadrangular only in one way, which ensures the correct position of the plane cutter relative to the surface to be processed..

There are several options for attaching a large blade to a handle:

  1. For right-handed-left-handed people – we put the flat cutter on the handle with the sharp part and direct its nose to the right or left, depending on which hand is your leading.
  2. Fastening depending on the physical capabilities of the person. Here you need to take into account the fact that the longer the blade, the more effort you need to apply during work. Try the standard mount first. If this is difficult for you, the plane cutter gets stuck in the ground and is difficult to pull out – you need to reduce the length of the blade. To do this, first we put a flat cutter, and on top of it a handle, so the blade becomes shorter.
  3. Fastening depending on the height of the worker. There are always two holes on the blade, which makes it possible to change the angle of attachment to the handle. The smaller the height of a working person, the larger the angle. For a man of average height (175-177 cm), the blade is attached to the handle almost perpendicularly.

Fokin's flat cutter assembly

The small flat cutter does not need to be adjusted so carefully to fit your hand. It will be easy for them to work in any case, since the length of the blade is small here. Some are mistaken, thinking that if the plane cutter is small, then the handle should be small. The main task is not to bend your back when working, so we take the handle for a small blade as long as for a large one. We attach the plane cutter perpendicular to the handle in the desired direction (for right-handed-left-handed people) and that’s it – the tool is ready to work.

With the help of the Fokin plane cutter, you can perform various types of gardening work. However, as with any new device, you need to adapt to it. This especially concerns the choice of the optimal angle of attachment of the blade to the handle. Having assembled the plane cutter, work with it for a while and evaluate how comfortable it is for you. Most importantly, be patient. If there are certain difficulties, you need to correct the angle of attachment, and everything will fall into place. After you find an option that is convenient for you, then you will no longer need to reconfigure the plane cutter.

Fokin's flat cutter is ready to work

Basic techniques when working with the Fokin plane cutter

As already noted, this tool can be used to perform almost all gardening work, from cultivating the land to mowing grass and weeds..

Cultivating (loosening) the soil is the most important work, but also the most time consuming. Let’s see how you can perform this operation without spending a lot of time and effort..

To loosen the ground, you will need a large flat cutter. To make it easier to work, tall weeds should be cut. It is recommended to cover heavily overgrown surfaces with black polyethylene, roofing felt or old linoleum two weeks before starting work. Under such a blanket, the weeds will lose strength, the earth will loosen, and it will be much easier to cultivate it..

So, we take a flat cutter and start work. We stick the tip of the tool into the ground at a distance of about one and a half meters from ourselves, while deepening it into the soil by about 3 centimeters. The inventor of the plane cutter V.V. Fokin recommends keeping the blade parallel to the ground when cultivating the soil. However, many seasoned gardeners believe that it is better to tilt it a little, especially if virgin land is being cultivated, or an overgrown area, strongly entangled with roots. The only thing that can not be done categorically is to put the plane cutter blade perpendicular to the surface to be treated. Do not work with a flat cutter like a hoe or hoe – this is a fundamentally different tool! By the way, this also applies to all other works (weeding, cutting ridges, hilling).

Hilling with a Fokin flat cutter

Then, in one long movement, we drag the tool towards us. It is important that this movement is not abrupt and short, as when working with a hoe, but rather smooth and long. This needs to be learned. If you do everything correctly, the blade of the tool moves to a depth of 3 centimeters, while trimming the roots of the weeds. It is the top layer of the earth that looses, which, as we have already found out, is especially important for the “health” of the soil and all its inhabitants.

Another important point when working with the Fokin flat cutter is that you need to ensure that during processing the earth remains in its place, and the soil layers do not move. If you held the instrument and a pile of earth is left at your feet, this is wrong. The movements performed should be slow and smooth, if your instrument is well sharpened, then such work does not require much physical strength and is easy.

Loosening the soil with a Fokin flat cutter

If it is inconvenient to work with a movement towards yourself, then there is another loosening technique using a flat cutter. In the same way, we unfold the blade, deepen it into the ground by 3 centimeters, and then move the handle from side to side – movements exactly reminiscent of those that are performed when working with a scythe. That is, we mow the earth at a depth. In this case, it is also necessary to ensure that the layers of the earth remain in their places..

Yes, you need to adapt to Fokin’s plane cutter. Do not be discouraged if something did not work out the first time, practice, tune the instrument for yourself. If you master this land cultivation technique, then you simply will not want to take any other tool in your hands, and from work you will receive not calluses and back pain, but one sheer pleasure.

We use a flat cutter to cut grass

During the season, it becomes necessary to mow grass around trees or beds. And for these purposes, a flat cutter is also ideal. As you know, only a strong healthy man can work as a scythe, but using the Fokin flat cutter, any woman can handle this work.

It is very easy to mow tall grass with this tool. The technique is simple. The blade goes parallel to the ground, and the movements are the same as with a regular scythe. If you need to remove sufficiently thick stems, then the tip of the blade must be tilted slightly downward – an oblique movement (from top to bottom) is obtained, in which there is much more force – and powerful weeds in this case give in easily and easily. It should be noted that for such work, the tool must be perfectly sharpened..

Weeding with a flat cutter

The grass has been cut, it needs to be removed. Having a plane cutter, you do not need to go to the barn for a rake or pitchfork. Keeping the blade slightly tilted, we rake up what we mowed. If there is a lot of grass, you can put the plane cutter perpendicular to the ground – do not bury the tool in the ground, work on the surface. We shovel the grass onto ourselves, slip the blade under the formed pile (for convenience, you do not need to make it too large), and, holding on top with our hand, transfer the grass to the compost pile. Mowed weeds are an excellent material for the preparation of such valuable fertilizer as compost. How to cook it correctly, we will talk with you in the next article..

How to sharpen a flat cutter correctly

Any gardener knows that all gardening tools must be sharp. And Fokin’s plane cutter is no exception. A blunt flat cutter can only remove small weeds in the aisles, and for all other work, the blade must be perfectly sharpened.

One of the main reasons for the inconvenience when working with this tool lies in its improper sharpening, since many try to sharpen the flat cutter’s blade in the same way as the rest of the tool.

Take a close look at the cutting surface – it is sharpened at a certain angle, and it is not taken from the ceiling. The inventor himself says that the harder the surface to be treated, the less sharp the angle should be. When you sharpen the Fokine plane cutter, do not make it sharper than it was originally (40-45 degrees is optimal). If the blade is made too sharp, it will easily sink into the ground, but it will be much more difficult to pull it out of there..

Fokin's plane cutter sharpening

And one more important point: which side to sharpen? Pay attention to the cutting edge of the blade again. During work, the lower part of the blade is facing the ground, and it is necessary to sharpen it, and from the upper part, you just need to remove the burrs with a file. Sharpening the blade tip is essential. The sharper it is, the easier it will be for you to fight powerful weeds and raise virgin soil..

It is possible to sharpen the Fokin plane cutter using a regular file, while the pressure should be minimal so that the operation takes place without heating the metal, which will preserve the hardness and wear resistance of the tool. It is necessary to sharpen the blade regularly, avoiding its final bluntness. For winter storage, the tool must be lubricated with something, this will protect the metal from rust.

To buy this tool, in order to avoid counterfeiting, you should only in specialized shops selling gardening tools. Usually they sell a kit (large and small blades, a handle and a brochure on the correct use of this tool). Do not buy hand-held flat cutter from random traders in the market. Please note that the blade must be made of chrome manganese or other self-hardening steel. The flat cutter should never be painted (this is a fake!), The real color of the tool is brown-black.

Fokin flat cutter set

Today, in almost all large cities of the former CIS countries, “Clubs of organic farming” are organized and operate. It is very profitable and convenient to purchase a Fokin plane cutter right here. Here, in addition to the set, you will also be offered the inventor’s book “Towards the Earth with Science.” Experienced gardeners from this organization will be able to answer all your questions regarding working with a flat cutter. Such clubs regularly hold lectures and seminars on theoretical and practical training in the method of organic farming..

As you can see, this unique tool has practically no drawbacks. And here are its main advantages:

  • careful correct attitude to the soil;
  • ease when performing all types of garden work – both a young and an elderly person can work with a flat cutter without much stress;
  • speed: the speed of processing the land – weaving per hour, the ability to perform the necessary work without changing the tool;
  • availability – the price of a Fokin flat cutter makes it possible to purchase it for anyone, even a not very wealthy person.

The main thing is to treat the development of this device thoughtfully and with a certain amount of patience. There is no need to resist and hold on to the old, just because “I have been doing this all my life.” Learn, try, consult with specialists – and then the Fokin plane cutter will become the most necessary tool for you, without which you simply cannot do.

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