Browsing Category: Outdoor/gardening

The Sunbathing Companion

It seems like women like to have huge bags with many unnecessary items on hand at all times. When my girlfriends and I head to the beach, this gets to be a bit much, as you want as little as possible for fear of someone snatching your stuff while we are having fun in the water. When I found this precious towel craft, I wanted to go make one right away and hit the hot sand! This extremely simple and even more useful project is a great way to bring your towel and the essentials that are needed for the beach, without the huge tote.

 

For full directions with photos, check out the “recipe” for cuteness at Moda Bake Shop.

 

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DIY Garden Water Can

Why buy a watering can for your garden when you can easily make one using an old jug?  Such a simple idea, but those are usually the best! Such a clever way to upcycle old milk or water jugs. Love this!

Found on A Journey To A Dream

What you’ll need:

  • Old jug with lid
  • Sewing needle
  • Matches

Heat up the needle and puncture holes in the lid. That’s it….simple right!?

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Book Planter

My husband and I really love old books thus I was attracted to this cool DIY planter. It seems like you can always pick one up for fairly cheap at a yard sale or second hand store. This could make an interesting centerpiece for a coffee table or could look neat as an accent just about anywhere around the house.

For full instructions please visit DIY Real.

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Garden Penny Ball

My wife was cleaning out an old purse last night, and kept pulling out handfuls of pennies.  I always save all of my change in a jar, as a vacation savings plan.  I’ve been saving for close to 4 years now, and plan on cashing in next summer.  I don’t, however, save the pennies in my vacation savings jar.  So I have a bunch of pennies laying around as well.  So I decided to take a look to see what I could do with all of the pennies besides cash them.  I found this awesome looking penny ball that you can make for uh… pennies.  All you need is some good UV resistant and waterproof glue, a bunch of pennies and an old bowling ball.  I find bowling balls at thrift shops and garage sales all the time, and for a dollar or two.

One of the really cool things about this penny ball is that it not only looks really cool, in my opinion, but also repels slugs from you garden, and if placed near your hydrangeas, will turn their flowers blue!

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Mini Water Garden Fountain

There is nothing quite as relaxing as the sound of a gurgling stream, or a bubbling brook.  I have a pool at my house, and I love the water, but when I am out by the pool on a hot summer day, I think having that sound of water would just take the whole scene up a notch.  One of the things I really like about this, is that it is not only a fountain, but a mini water garden as well!  We grow a lot of of vegetables and fruits in pots on our deck in the summer, and having a water feature nestled in there with some cool water plants would look great.  This little project looks like a cheap, and easy way to achieve that without taking up too much real estate on my deck!  I found this DIY on CanadianGardening.net, and they not only give the the DIY for the fountain, but a list of plants that would do well in a small fountain such as this.  Here is what they say to do:

Pump primer
To make these potted ponds, I used a 95 GPH pump (GPH stands for gallons per hour). Although 95 GPH may sound like a lot, it’s one of the smallest sizes on the market and is only appropriate for containers. Here is one I found on Amazon for $13.

Here’s the formula for calculating the volume of your pond or container using imperial measurements: length x width x depth (all in feet) will give you the cubic feet of a rectangular container. Multiply this by 7.5 to obtain the number of U.S. gallons. The galvanized-steel tub used in the picture below measures one foot deep by 11⁄2 feet square: 1 x 1.5 x 1.5 x 7.5 = 16.88 U.S. gallons. To calculate the size of the pump needed, divide the total number of gallons by two, which means you would only need an 8 GPH pump for a container this size.  Here is a container I found on Amazon for $27.

But that’s just the beginning. The size of the container can also influence the strength of pump required. The longer the tubing from the pump to the water output, the more GPH is needed to keep the water moving. A waterfall entails its own set of calculations, as distance from water pump to water output can be significant. For the best advice and information on selecting a water pump, visit a retailer that specializes in water gardens.

Installing water plants
To install water plants, remove them from the plastic containers they’re sold in, wrap the soil and roots in burlap, then place in small mesh baskets (specifically made for water plants and available at most garden centres).

Cover the top with pea gravel (this will keep the soil down). Remember to check the pump’s filter periodically, as this is where residual soil will collect.

The smaller the pump, the smaller the filter and the more frequently it needs to be cleaned out.

The plants

  • Corkscrew rush (Juncus effusus ‘Spiralis’): A marginal water plant, meaning it can be grown either at the edge of or in a pond but still in soil, this unusually shaped rush reaches 60 centimetres tall and does best in sun or part shade. Make sure you’re not buying J. balticus ‘Spiralis’, which is less upright and has a tendency to spread. Zone 4
  • Dwarf or miniature cattail (Typha minima): Another marginal plant, it reaches up to 45 centimetres tall and grows best in sun or part shade. Zone 3
  • Chameleon plant (Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’): A marginal plant that produces white flowers in early summer, it must be planted in a perennial bed and mulched to successfully overwinter. It reaches 15 centimetres tall, does well in sun or part shade and tends to spread. Zone 5
  • Needle rush hair grass or spike rush (Eleocharis acicularis): A marginal as well as an oxygenating plant (essential for the survival of fish), this North American native grows to about 30 centimetres tall and does best in sun or part shade. Zone 3
  • Fairy moss (Azolla caroliniana and A. filiculoides): This tiny moss (one to three centimetres across) floats on the surface of the water. The green fronds turn red in fall; the plant spreads rapidly. Overwinter indoors; native to North America.

Tub time (shown below)
A large, galvanized-steel tub (30 centi-metres deep, 46 centimetres square) serves as the base for this water feature.

The pump was installed on the bottom, then covered with a plastic pot. A trick I learned from Canadian Gardening’s previous editor, Beckie Fox, is to use a piece of gridded plastic (the type that’s installed over fluorescent lighting) as a foundation for the top layer of stones. I added a variety of larger sizes (not pebbles) and finished it off with a flat slab of slate, which forms the ledge over which the stream of water runs.

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DIY Pallet Planter for Strawberries

I have been growing strawberries in pots the last couple of years, and they just don’t flourish the way I feel they should.  I started looking for ways to grow strawberries that would suit my home.  I looked at hangind planters, which I really liked, but just wasn’t a good fit for my house, I looked at different types of boxes and hanging planter.  But then I found a site called LovelyGreens.com that shows how to make a planter box out of a pallet, and I knew that was right up my alley!  They also give a great tip on how to make sure the pallet you are using is safe.  Pallets that cross international borders must be treated.  Some use heat treating, and some use chemical treating.  Check out the picture at the bottom of this post from LovelyGreens.com that shows how to tell the difference.

So, here are the instructions on making the planter, but if you want to see more pics, then follow this link to LovelyGreens.com for more.

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How to Make a Better Strawberry Planter out of a Wooden Pallet
You will need the following materials:
- A suitable pallet as described above
- A hand-saw or jigsaw
- Electric drill or hammer
- Two sizes of screws and nails – approx. lengths 4 cm (1-1/2″) and 8cm (3″)
Optional:
- Heavy duty chisel/wedge and iron mallet
- Non-toxic paint and paintbrush
Step 1: Cut the pallet into three equal pieces
The easiest way to do this is to cut lay the pallet so that the long planks are in parallel with your own position. If your pallet has nine planks, like mine did, then count over three planks and then saw the wood between the third and fourth planks. Saw right in the middle, to keep things easy and to ensure that all of your proportions remain correct. Continue another three planks and cut again. Remember that you’ll have to saw in the exact places on both the front and back of the pallet.
Step 2: Trim and remove excess wood pieces
You’ll have three pieces of pallet now, all of the same height and width. Two of the pallets will be formed from the top and bottom and will have chunky blocks securely fixed to them between one of three planks on the front side and the single one left on on the other. You’ll want to trim off the excess wood jutting up from each one of these wooden blocks. Please refer to images for step one and two. Though I chose not to do it in this project, you could also remove that single plank on the back side. If you do this then you could have a deeper planter – it’s up to you.
The piece that made up the centre part of the pallet also has thick wooden blocks sandwiched between its front side and stubby planks on the other. Pull these blocks and stubby planks off but keep them in reserve – you’ll need them to complete the project. If there are nails sticking up after removing these pieces then either hammer them flat or remove them completely.
Step 3: Fix the two end pieces to the middle part of the pallet. Screw in from the other side of the middle (bottom) piece. 
The two end pieces will be the sides of your planter and the middle piece is the bottom. Though the image shows the structure right way up, it’s actually easier to flip it over in order to fix the bottom piece to the sides. You’ll want to screw or nail the bottom piece into the wooden blocks still attached to the side pieces.
Step 4: You should have three to four of these pieces that were removed from the centre piece of the pallet. Separate them into individual blocks and planks.
This is easier said than done if you don’t have the right tools. Since pallet wood that has been heat treated can be brittle if you try to pull the plank off with the tongs of a hammer. If you have a heavy duty chisel then I recommend that you use it to separate the block and the plank and sever the nails in two. If you’re planning on doing any more pallet projects you could really save yourself a lot of tears and invest in one along with an iron mallet down at your local hardware store. If any of your pieces have bits of nails sticking out then try to hammer them flat.
Step 5: Use planks to create the sides and the blocks for feet
If you’ve followed the directions in step 1 and sawed in the middle between the long planks, then the little planks leftover from step four should all be approximately the same length. They will also be the same width you need to create the shorter sides of your planter. If your original pallet was the same size as mine then you’ll have four of these planks to make up two pieces for each side. The bottom planks for each of the shorter sides can be created by re-using the bits of wood you cut off the side pieces in step two. For a more pleasing and symmetrical effect, line the small side planks up with the planks along the front and back pieces.
Attaching the wooden blocks as feet can be a bit tricky and in the end I drove very long screws in sideways to attach them to the bottom of the planter. Putting feet on the piece will help with drainage and slow down the process of the bottom rotting. I think they also make the planter look nicer.
I can foresee some people finding pallets of slightly different sizes to mine and being left with less small planks and blocks in this step. In fact it’s more likely that you’ll end up with three of each rather than four, especially if you’re using a smaller pallet. In this case you’ll be cobbling together more scraps to make and additional side piece and having to find a fourth block to use as the last foot. In this case I’d look at removing one of the inner blocks from the side pieces to use.
Step 6: Project Completed!
Well almost :) Turn your planter right way up and have a look at it. Does it feel sturdy? Are the feet wobbly? Are there extra bits of wood sticking up that you could trim back? Once you feel the planter is complete then either plant it up as is or use a non-toxic outdoor wood paint to paint the exterior. Being wood, this piece will eventually rot down but some tlc now can help extend its life.
Step 7: Plant it up
Soil and compost will erode through any unprotected opening in the sides or bottom of the planter. Putting down your choice of barrier materials will help keep that soil where it’s supposed to be. I chose to line the bottom of my planter with scraps of wire then a layer of gardening fabric that will let water out but keep matter in. Since I placed my planter against a hedge I also chose to roll the black material up the back since I won’t be planting any strawberries on that side. On top of the fabric and running up the sides I used straw as an organic erosion barrier.
The easiest way to plant your strawberries is to work your way up from the bottom. A layer of compost, mixed with well rotted horse manure and slow-release organic fertiliser went in first. Then I placed the plants in the bottom slots along with straw. Another layer of my compost mixture and then I repeated the process for the next set of slots. You’ll also notice that I’ve spaced my plants out far more than you’ll see in most other pallet planter tutorials. If you want strawberries to produce well, it’s recommended that you place the plants at least 35cm (14″) apart. I’ve also made sure that each plant will be able to grow and spread out without smothering any plants underneath.
Choosing your pallet
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1 Simple Tip For Better Tomatoes

I grow tomatoes every year, because I just love the taste of a vine ripened tomato nice and hot from the sun right off the vine.  My tomato growing skills however are a bit lackluster, so I am determined to change that this year.  Everyone I ask who has great tomatoes always says the same thing.  Remove the sucker branches.  (See the photo below for which these are.)  They grow between the main branch, and the large side branches.  These suckers take away a lot of the energy from the vine that the plant should be using to grow tomatoes.  They also create a lot of shade within the plant, so the more important branches don’t get sun.  One of the cool things about removing these suckers is that you can root them and grow a whole new plant!  Or, you can just stick them in the ground, keep them watered, and they will grow on their own!  As they say on AGardenForTheHouse.com: Now, you don’t have to remove the suckers from your vines. But left to their own devices, I can tell you that tomato plants soon grow an enormous quantity of stems, require vast amounts of space and endless tying, are susceptible to disease, and produce low-quality fruit. However, a well-pruned vine, one whose leaves are all exposed to the sun, invites both health and jumbo-size produce. And such a vine can be easily maintained in small, 12-to-18-inch quarters.

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Glow In The Dark Log Stools

One of the great things about the summer time is getting to be outside more.  Not just during the day, but getting to be outside at night is extra magical.  I love sitting around an outdoor fire at night, just sitting quietly listening to the fire crackle, and the sounds of night bugs and frogs.

I built a great fire pit at my parents’ house that is circled by log stools for sitting around the fire.  Once it starts to get late, and the fire starts burning low, the stools become hard to see, and I have stubbed many a toe on those stools!  This is a super fun way to keep those stools visible and ad some glow fun to the fire pit.

Paint the tops of your log stools with glow in the dark paint.  I looked through a lot of different glow in the dark paints, and found these to be the best bet: Glow Inc. Paints from Amazon come in a couple of different colors like green, blue, purple, and white.  I was unable to find any in red and oranges like those shown in the picture below from Pinyourhome.com, so if you can find any good ones, please let me know in the comments.  Aside from just painting the logs with the glow paint, I would suggest also giving them a quick coating of spray shellac just to make the paint last longer out in the elements.

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Repurposed Keys To Hang Your Keys

My oldest son and I were going through an old bag this weekend, because he wanted to use it.  I hadn’t used it in a while, but it still had a bunch of stuff in it.  One of the things we found was a ring of old keys, keys that I had no idea what locks they opened.  I wanted to see what I could make with them, and I found this great DIY on SierraClub.org.  I am always losing my keys, and am really in need of a place to put them when I come in the house.  I have a pretty big key chain, It only has 4 keys on it, but I keep lots of small tools hanging on there as well, so I always have what I need.  This would be a great way to keep my keys in the same place every time, and to make something that looks cool to hang by my door!

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Instructions:

  1. Place a key in the vise and carefully bend the stem into a hook with the pliers. (This is one thing I would do a little differently. I would use a needle nose pliers, and apply a small amount of heat so that I could bend the keys up a little more without breaking them.)  If you don’t have a vise, bend the key by gripping the stem with the pliers and pressing the head against a hard surface. Repeat with the remaining keys. (Note: If you are using very old circular keys, you will need metal working equipment to heat and bend them).
  2. Line up the bent keys on the piece of wood. Measure and mark the points where you want to attach them.
  3. Attach the keys to the wood with nails or wood screws (for a nice touch, use decorative furniture nails).
  4. Attach to the wall using picture wire, or screw the wood directly to the wall.

Use Vinegar To Kill Weeds

When we moved into our house a couple of years ago we inherited an amazing garden that somehow stayed weed free for years.  I’m not sure how the previous owner was able to pull that off, but it seems reign over the weeds has ended, much to my displeasure.  So, I am on a mission to maintain her legacy, and once again eradicate the weeds from our garden!  I’ve tried pulling them out, which works for some of the weeds, but others have roots that just don’t want to come out, and the tops just break off.  Then they just come right back.  This looks to be my best option so far, mostly all natural, with the exception of a small squirt of dish soap.  I found this recipe on Alternative Gardening, an amazing resource for gardening, gardening naturally, and gardening with kids.  Here is what they had to say:

Homemade Weed Killer

What you’ll need:

  1. 1 gallon of white vinegar
  2. 1/2 cup salt
  3. Liquid dish soap (any brand)
  4. Empty spray bottle

Put salt in the empty spray bottle and fill it the rest of the way up with white vinegar. Add a squirt of liquid dish soap. This solution works best if you use it on a hot day. Spray it on the weeds in the morning, and as it heats up it will do its work.

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