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Garden Tool Care and DIY Storage Bin

Cleaning and organizing the garden tools may not be the most glamorous job, but it certainly gets the gardening year off on the right flip flop. Plus, I discovered a handy new way to organize my small garden tools and that’s pretty darn exciting (if you disagree with me now, just wait until mid summer when you have a hundred things to prune and you can easily find clean, sharp snips in no time at all – yeah, that’s exciting).

I’ve read in a few places that a great way to store your tools is in a bin filled with sand and a little oil. Last summer I decided to give this a try. They ‘recipe’ recommend adding coarse sand to some sort of bucket and adding motor oil. I didn’t want to use motor oil as I was worried about the adverse affects on my organic garden, and I thought vegetable oil would go rancid, so I left out the oil and just oiled my tools regularly.

The benefit of this method is that your tools are easy to grab and easily kept organized. The drawback is that the sand really mucks up your tools, particularly the pruners. It gets into all the crevices and it just doesn’t work for me. I do not recommend storing your tools in sand but if you have a way that it works for you, please let me know.

Since I liked the organization I got with my small tools, I decided to replace the sand with river stones. This works beautifully! Fill up 1/3 of a shallow but wide bin with round river stones and insert tools. It holds them in place so you can find them easily, it takes up very little room, and it’s simple to maintain.

It’s also a good idea to wash and sharpen your tools regularly. Many gardeners will wash, oil, and sharpen pruners before each gardening day. Others may do it more often (i.e.: between plants which is always a good idea if there are disease issues that can be spread), and some do it less often (one a week, a month, never.)  Keeping tools clean and sharp will ensure they perform as you wish, last a long time, and don’t spread disease.

I try to keep my tools clean and sharp but it’s not a perfect system. I work best with scheduled activities so in both the spring and fall I like to follow this hand tool maintenance program:

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Green Roof Birdhouse Tutorial

Green roofs are all the rage right now but why should we humans have all the fun? In this Weekend Project you will learn how to make a removable, plantable roof addition to a standard cedar birdhouse. Adorable.

My husband is a hobbyist woodworker. Lucky me, right? And since we were talking about setting up some nesting boxes for our chickadees, he found some plans online, bought some wood, and then a few hours later we had this beautiful little birdhouse.

Gorgeous and perfectly made, with vent holes for the bird family’s air circulation, and the rough wood facing in so the fledglings can crawl up to the perfectly-sized hole for their first venture out into the world. Oh, and it has a hinged roof so that you can peek in on them <ahem> clean the birdhouse at the end of the season.

Me: “Great birdhouse, Honey. Let’s make a green roof for the birdies.”

Husband:  “Um, ok, well….but if we put a green roof on it we won’t be able to lift it up to look clean inside.”

Me: “There has to be a way. We can figure it out, right?”

Husband: “Um, yeah…”

If you speak husband like I do then you know that basically means, “I don’t know what you’re up to, Crazy Woman, but I’m not touching that birdhouse”. So I waited for him to go to work and I got busy building this fabulous removable plant tray that acts as a green roof. Want to make one too? Here’s how:  (If you don’t see the tutorial, please click ‘continue reading’.)

 

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The Magic of the Grinch Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree that graces the Garden Therapy house this year is not a huge, lush, extravagantly-adorned spectacle as it has been in the past. Nope, this year we almost didn’t put up a tree. I was feeling a bit grinchy and will admit that the holidays have been difficult in the past, the last few years in particular. So this year the plan was to just skip Christmas all together, keep busy through the winter and pop out on the right side of Spring, ready to get diggin’ again.

You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch / You’re the king of sinful sots / Your heart’s a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots / Mr. Gri-inch! / You’re a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce! 

 

But then and idea hit me. Like a vision appearing before me it was suddenly clear as day: a Grinch Tree. A tree design that celebrates not just the joy and wonder of the season, but celebrates the difficulties and challenges as well.

If those little Who’s could sing their hearts out in tough times, then so can I. I bought a potted cedar and rigged it up by pruning and re-attaching some branches so that the ball on the top would hang over just right. The perfect green ball and ribbon were easy to find.

The decorations are a combination of simple white lights, wooden ornaments, felted acorns, and kitchy silver disco balls. And the base is wrapped simply in burlap with a big green bow.

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