My Japanese sickle is an important member of the close- knit family of tools I call my old trusties. These include a hand trowel, secateurs, a hori hori (part trowel, part knife), scissors and a hand fork. They all live in my tool caddy (Pip, Issue 25) which I carry with me when I am gardening and means I no longer lose my tools to the far corners of the vegie patch.While it might not be as regular a friend as a trowel or secateurs, for the jobs that it does do, there is no other alternative. The Japanese hand sickle has a curved blade that’s 17 centimetres long with serrations on the inside of the curve. It is perfect for when you need to clear areas of soft-stemmed bushy plants, such as comfrey, mint, grains, cover crops and green-manure crops.