SOIL—GETTING THE MOST FROM YOUR KWIK EDGE and other garden tools
Kwik Edge sales have exceeded all expectations. We are currently out of stock for the second time. There have been many comments, the majority of which have been positive, however statements such as: “does not work as advertised, difficult to use in clay soil, I don’t know many people that have soil like that,” have prompted me to make some clarifications. This is not a disclaimer nor is it an attempt to defend the Kwik Edge. The Kwik Edge tool needs no defense and people are entitled to their own opinion. I address some of these opinions because the explanation will benefit anyone that enjoys gardening, with or without a Kwik Edge tool.
The Kwik Edge garden tool began as a curiosity the summer of 2017. I wondered if other gardeners would appreciate it the way I did and apparently they do. Thousands across the US are now using it and I am receiving inquiries from other countries. The success of the Kwik Edge tool has been gratifying and has given me the opportunity to interact with many new friends. The Kwik Edge’s unique design makes it the best tool on the market for maintaining flowerbed borders. It is not meant to replace tried and tested favorite tools, but is a great addition to the garden arsenal; each tool having its own task to perform. When any tool is asked to do the job for which another is intended, the job is made more difficult and the performance of the tool becomes a disappointment. For example, I don’t know of a better tool than the half-moon step shovel for creating and defining the grass border of a flower bed. However, attempting the same job using the Kwik Edge would be a physical challenge, tiring and generally less effective. However, with the grass border defined, no other tool can compare to the effectiveness and ease of the Kwik Edge in maintaining the border. The half-moon served its purpose, but is not practical or effective as a maintenance tool to keep aggressive grass roots in check.
The Kwik Edge videos demonstrate the use and results of the tool. However, due to misconceptions, a small percentage of customers have expressed disappointment. I am told by some it doesn’t work in their clay soil, doesn’t perform as depicted and one must have good soil for it to work. I can’t argue with that because it is basically true, given the conditions. The secret to the Kwik Edge’s performance is not in the tool. It is, after all, a tool in the hands of an operator and it holds no magic that will make it work regardless of how or where it is used. The secret is in the soil.
To get the most from your Kwik Edge, or for that matter, any other garden tool, soil condition must be as close to ideal as possible. For example, even the finest plow behind a powerful tractor is useless in the snow and rain. One customer said that in her area the soil is heavy clay, as if that were somehow a reflection on the Kwik Edge tool. Her comment suggests that her soil is an unfortunate matter of fate with which she must learn to live and cope. This is not the case and as proof I offer the concept of the raised bed. Raised beds are structures filled with a garden soil of the gardeners own making. A Google search will reveal a plethora of soil recipes designed for optimum performance. This is one way of overcoming the dreaded clay soil dilemma and it works, but there are some who don’t seem to realize that the same idea works very well for any planting bed; raised or otherwise.
Changing the composition of the soil in your planting bed is not difficult and when you’ve done it, your shovel, hoe, Kwik Edge tool, etc. will do what they are meant to do and will be a pleasure in your hands. A Google search will yield a nearly unlimited number of articles telling you how to change, or amend, your soil’s composition. Most of them are good, but if you find one that says sand should not be added to clay soil, delete it and move on. Sand is already a component in any soil; its concentration level is what makes the soil sandy or heavy. It makes no sense to suggest it should not be used as an amendment. The soil you see in the Kwik Edge video is clay based and was amended with sand. The addition of sand is especially important and effective in wet and humid climates. The sand will improve drainage so that the soil will not be constantly wet and sticky.
There are five basic elements in the composition of soil; clay, sand, silt (organics), air and water. The first three determine the structure of the soil and are the ones that can be worked with and altered. It doesn’t have to be scientific or complicated. Poor dirt is simply soil that is out of balance. The most problematic is the heavy, or clay soil. If you expect to find a tool that will do magic in your clay soil, you will be disappointed; there isn’t one. Change the soil; it will do magic with your tools! You don’t have to live with poor soil.
Adjust the composition of your soil in the places where it will make the biggest difference and improve your garden experience. If you have a heavy-soil bed in your lawn or you want to create one, (grass will thrive in heavy soil) remove the sod (shallow) in the shape and design you want. Use a half-moon and/or conventional shovel to dig and define the desired edge to the depth of the shovel. Discard the border soil you’ve removed or add it to the inner part of the bed. Cover the entire area with a couple inches of sand (fine or course) and two or three inches of peat moss or compost. (Vermiculite is often recommended, but it can be expensive and sand is just as effective.) Use a tiller to mix the sand and compost with the existing heavy soil or turn it with a shovel to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. If the mixture is still ‘heavy,’ add more sand. If it is too sandy, dig a little deeper and pull up more clay. The addition of compost is beneficial annually, particularly in the fall. This may sound laborious, but the effort is like an investment with perpetual dividends and is nothing compared to a perennial battle with heavy clay soil.
With islands of ideal soil bordered by established lawns in heavy soil, you will find that the Kwik Edge really does work and easily maintains the border, slicing along the heavy soil edge, checking the aggressive grass roots and directing the conditioned soil back into the bed. With the soil on the dry side of moist, roots and soil will not hang up on the blade and sharpening will not be necessary. I have used my tool for many years when it was just my idea and have never sharpened it. The Kwik Edge will maintain the pleasure of gardening in the new bed and using it will be its own reward.