Gardening: Tool Box: I let the garden go to blazes

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FIFTY years ago, Allied troops armed with flame-throwers blazed a trail across France. Recently I have been engaged in a peaceful version of a similar campaign: attacking weeds with a Sheen X300 flame-gun. Easy to assemble and operate, it burns a mixture of paraffin and air, pressurised by a pump built into the fuel tank.

There are drawbacks: an implement that roars like a liverish dragon and belches a foot or two of flame is not ideal for the faint-hearted gardener.

The X300 works well if you follow the instructions and adopt a two-stage strategy that first kills the weeds, then burns them a day or two later.

During a spell of dry weather, however, I was concerned about the risk of glowing embers blowing away and setting fire to a nearby barn.

In my mind's eye I could also see a story that had recently appeared in the local paper, telling of a man whose flame-thrower caused a fire that 'badly damaged his neighbour's house' and threatened to engulf others.

'A chance in a few thousand,' was the fire brigade's verdict, but the incident underlined the need to be very careful when fighting tenacious weeds with high-pressure fire.

The Sheen X300 costs pounds 141. Sheen Equipment, Greasley Street, Bulwell, Nottingham NG6 8NH (0602 272321).