2) Simple “tools” and tips

Here you find a description of simple tools and tips for gardening. The numbers of the tips are in inversed order. Newest tips on top.

Contents:

80. Wire mesh protectors over (lettuce) plants.

79. Planting big seed potatoes (for a big harvest).

78. Sowing in a (7 compartment) plastic dinner box.

77. Lifting hook for watering plants (e.g. lettuce, endive).

76. Simple draining aid (kitchen use)

75. Mouse proof storage box

74. Water-saving watering can

73. Moist toilet paper in a margarine box to sow on

72. Flower pots with insect mesh netting

71. Snail fences

70. Placemat with sowing holes

69. Frame of wooden laths around a seedbed

68. Shove tray made of margarine boxes

67. Small white plastic cap with seeds

66. Sieving dry cow manure

65. Sieve and flower pot dish to “make liquid cow manure”

64. Nylon string with knots at fixed distances

63. Flower pot dish with a reclosable water drain

62. Weighing (vegetables) using a luggage scale

61. Pulverizing cow manure pellets using bricks or paving stone parts

60. Little volume spoon for small (vegetable) seeds

59. Connecting 2 pieces of electricity conduit (for a garden foil tunnel)

58. Water tubes as a sowing tool

57. Plastic flower pot for drying (latex) gloves

56. Watering plants using a plastic window box liner and hoses

55. Support for sweet pepper plants in a circular mortar bucket

54. Keeping straw beans free from the garden soil (tip of Wim)

53. Frame with insect gauze (tip of Wim)

52. Greenhouse made of corrugated plate, standing on 4 wooden pins (tip of Wim)

51. “Baskets” to protect plants, made of wire netting and thick iron wire (tip of Wim)

50. Thick string with marks at fixed distances (tip of Wim)

49. Fastening bean stakes using a wire tensioner (tip of Wim)

48. Bottles on sticks, ice cream sticks as nameplates, empty beakers to sow in (some tips of Liane)

47. Sieving compost or (potting) soil throug a plastic flower pot

46. Strewing a thin layer of sand using a small flower pot

45. Pieces of curling cord to train stems of stake beans

44. Band of fabric to cover seeds right after sowing

43. Watering pot that can be opened

42. Planting potatoes using a bulb planter

41 Sprouting (chitting) potatoes in a cardboard egg box or in compost

40. Method to take a plant with a big root ball out of a flower pot

39. Aluminium foil behind indoor growing plants (tip of Frits)

38. Name plates made of aluminium Venetian blinds (tip of Sandor)

37. Supports for small leak plants

36. Stakes with loops to train tandrils of stake beans (tip of Wim)

35. Little board for sowing at fixed distances (tip of Wim)

34. Making sowing furrows with a wooden rake (tip of Wim)

33. Useful storage of sachets of seed (tip of Wim)

32. Tool for hanging a hose over the edge of a water barrel

31. Planting plants using a bulb planter

30. Modified step ladder for picking stake beans

29. Board for flowerpots with small plants

28. Box for fruit and vegetable waste (kitchen and garden waste)

27. Sowing tips (general)

26. Grey rectangular plate to see germinating seeds

25. Small seeds (tray, crown cap, cocktail stick)

24. Crop rotation and garden plan in Excel

23. Bucket greenhouse

22. Simple “dark space” for chicory

21. Chicken-food (mixed cereals) used as a green manure

20. Feeding birds in a butterfly-bush

19. Tools in a compost vessel

18. Cut square flower pots from tray

17.  Simple support for “heavy” pepper branches

16. Bean slicing tools

15. “Plank bridge” for storage of onions

14. “Newspaper skirt” for storage of potatoes

13. Tips for a water barrel

12. Making liquid nettle manure

11. Fixing strips for guiding stake beans

10. Fixing strips for sweet peppers or tomatoes

9. Cabbage collars and fixing iron wire

8. Planting stick for leak or stakes

7. “Greenhouse” made of a margarine box and a transparent plastic mushroom box

6. Lath with marks at fixed distances

5. Thin string with marks at fixed distances

4. Elastic band for sowing or planting in a straight line

3. Stepping board for loose soil

2. Board to make furrows (“furrow boards”)

1. “Greenhouse” made of 2 plastic margarine boxes

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The tips:

80. Wire mesh protectors over (lettuce) plants.

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You can put “wire mesh protectors” over lettuce plants. Under these protectors plants can grow big without being eaten completely. Small snails and slugs can visit the lettuce plants, but the plants will grow faster than they are eaten.

You can make the protectors as follows:

werkhandschoenen

Put on work gloves.

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Use metal mesh of 12.5 millimeters (0.5 inch). Cut a piece of 50 x 50 centimeters (1 ft 8 inch square) or 60 x 60 centimeters (2 ft square).

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Thickness of the iron wire is 0.65 mm (1/40 inch) and can be cut by normal scissors.

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At each corner, bend the mesh “double”.

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  • Fold each “folded corner” against one side.
  • Push the top of the protector higher.
  • Put the protector on a flat surface. When the protector wiggles, bend the protector until there is no wiggling anymore.

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Pu the protectors over the small lettuce plants. Let the plants grow bigger.

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Big lettuce plant under a protector.

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You can put the protectors over other plants such as Kohlrabi or Brussels Sprouts. They protect against Cabbage White butterflies that lay their eggs on the leaves. The eggs turn into caterpillars that eat much cabbage material.

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79. Planting big seed potatoes (for a big harvest).

You can buy small or big seed potatoes. Big seed potatoes produce more and/or bigger potatoes.

You can use big potatoes from your harvest as seed potatoes for next year. To get a bigger harvest.

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An allotment colleague gave me this big potato (Bildstar, weight 466 grams). The potato sprouts have not been removed from January (early winter) on.

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April (early spring): at left there is a purchased” seed potato in a planting hole. At right there is the big potato from above in a planting hole, with sprouts.

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July (early summer): right before harvesting. At left the plant that grew from the normal seed potato with 4 stems. At right the plant from the big potato, with up to 15 stems.

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July (early summer): At left the harvest of the normal seed potato, about 0.5 kilogram. At right the harvest of the big potato, 2.5 kilogram.

Conclusion: Big seed potatoes give big plants and a big harvest.

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Other seed potatoes from my harvest.

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Big potatoes of my own harvest at February 3 (mid winter). From January 1 (early winter) on, they are in this box at a cool spot and sprouts are growing. Photo date is February 3 (mid winter).

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When the sprouts grow too fast, you can shorten them:

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At two potatoes sprouts have been shorted.

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After shortening the sprouts, put the potatoes at a light cool place again. Let the sprouts grow bigger.

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78. Sowing in a (7 compartment) plastic dinner box.

You can use a plastic dinner box with compartments when sowing veggies or flowers.

This black plastic dinner box has 7 compartments and a transparent cover.

Fill the compartments with a mixture of potting soil and agricultural lime (ratio 20 to 1). Potting soil is a little acidic; agricultural lime reduces this acidity.

Spray water on the potting soil/agricultural lime mixture in the compartments.

Usefull: use sharp scissors to cut well fitting pieces of sink mat. And use a sowing stick when sowing (see further and tip 33).

These 3 pieces of mat fit well:

  • the middle mat only fits in the central compartment.
  • The top mat also fits in the lower compartment
  • The mat at top left also fits at top right, bottom left and bottom right (with small bumps up or down).

Sowing:

  • Put a well fitting mat on moist sowing soil.
  • Use a sowing stick to make shallow sowing holes in the soil.

  • Sow the seeds:
    • Put seeds in a “shove drop tray” with 1 fall tube. Shove seeds to the hole and drop them in the mat holes. Info in tip 33.
    • Or put the seeds in a (white plastic) tray. Use tweezers to pick each seed and to drop it in a mat hole (in a sowing hole).
  • Remove the mat from the sowing soil.

Repeat steps (mat on, make holes, sow, remove mat) at more compartments.

  • Cover the seeds with a layer of potting soil or don’t cover them.
  • Put a transparent cover on the box.
  • Put the whole at a warm spot and let the seeds germinate.
  • Remove the cover when first plants are visible (have emerged).

Remarks:

  • You better sow slow germinating seeds first (e.g. peppers) and a few days later fast germinating seeds (e.g. tomato).
  • Otherwise there will be “big” plants and germinating seeds in one dinner box., as shown on the photos above.

Or:

  • Use sharp scissors to cut loose “trays” from another dinner box (same design).

  • Put loose trays in empty compartments of the dinner box.
  • Put sowing soil in the loose trays and in the empty compartments.
  • Execute the above mentioned steps.
  • Lift the loose trays with emerged plants and let these plants grow bigger elsewhere at a light spot.

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bonen kiemen doorz kap 2

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You can use the transparent lids too to germinate beans or peas or so …. on moist kitchen paper.

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You can make a pile of “germinating boxes”. Put on a brick (against blowing away of the top lid).

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77. Lifting hook for watering plants (e.g. lettuce, endive).

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At warm, dry weather you can water plants with wide leaf rosette (lettuce plants, endive plants, … ) as follows;

  • Lift the leaves at 1 side,
  • Spray water on the garden soil, right next to the stem of the plant,
  • Let the water sink in the soil,
  • Lower the leaves again.

In this way the water flows towards the roots. The leaves don’t get wet during watering, so less risk of rotting leaves. The broad leaves of the plant prevent the soil around the stem from drying out fast.

You can use such a “lifting hook” to lift the leaves during watering while standing upright.

An make it like this;

Needed: 1 broomstick, 1 square bend screw hook (length 4 inch), 1 piece of plastic aquarium hose.

  • Make the screw hook “straight”. This goes well when using a bench vise.

  • Bend the screw hook “square”, near the center of the hook.

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Remark (bend a screw eye to a hook):

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You can use a big screw eye to make the hook.

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Use pliers and a bench vise to make the hook.

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  • Clamp the screw hook in the bench vise.
  • Slide the plastic hose over the screw hook.
  • Take the screw hook out of the bench vise.

  • Drill a small hole in one end of the broomstick.
  • Screw the hook (with hose) in this hole in the broomstick.

  • Use sharp scissors to shorten the hose.
  • The photo above shows the length of the hose after cutting.

The lifting hook is ready for use.

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76. Simple draining aid (kitchen use)

(no gardening tip, but still very useful when preparing a meal)

After boiling, you can use a colander to drain the water from the water/food mixture. But…

…… you can also drain the cooking pot. This procedure is good and safe when you can “lay the pot aside at the edge of the sink”. A strip between the lid and the pot makes a narrow opening. An elastic band holds the lid on the pot. You don’t have to stick with it; meanwhile you can do other work.

Needed: wide elastic band and thin V-shaped strips. You can use strips made of plastic or stainless steel. See further how to make the strips.

Hang 1 strip over the edge of a pot, about half way between the handles. Lay the lid on the pot (and on the strip).

Put the elastic band on the pot, over the lid, as shown on the photos above. Meanwhile push with one hand on the lid to keep the cooking pot at its place.

Lay the pot aside at the edge of the sink. Let the water drain from the pot.

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Remarks:

Always check the rubber band before putting on the cooking pot. When the band is stretched, dried out or brittle, use a new rubber band.

When draining “big food”, for example macaroni, you can put 2 strips on each other to make a bigger draining opening.

When draining from a big cooking pot, you can attach 2 elastic bands to each other and put the “long rubber band” over the lid.

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Making plastic strips:

Needed: one plastic freezing box, sharp scissors.

Cut (V shaped) strips from the plastic freezing box.

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Strips of stainless steel

Plastic strips can loose plasticizers during use. So you better use stainless strips. Below a description of making them.

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You can use a spatula used in the kitchen (price about € 3.00 ) to make a strip.

Extra needed: hack saw, piec of paper, bench vice, file.

Clamp the spatula (in a piece of folded paper, against damage) in the bench vice. Hold the hack saw slanting as shown on the photo above and saw the spatula.

Take the strip out of the bench vice.

Clamp the strip in the bench vice. Use a file to remove the metal flakes.

The strip after sowing and filing. Length about 9 centimeters (3.5 inch).

Clamp the strip (in paper) in the bench vice. Bend the strip in the right shape.

The finished strip, ready for use. After draining water, the strip can be very hot. Use a potholder (or something like that) to remove the strip.

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Small potato knife:

You can put the metal part of a potato knife between the pot and the lid. After draining the water, you can grab the knife at the (“cold”) handle and remove. So no fingers burning.

Using the straight part of a potato knife does not always go well. The drain opening can be so wide that fine material (spaghetti, rice) flows along the water out of the pot.

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75. Mouse proof storage box

You can make a storage box “mouse proof”. For example when storing winter carrots. The lid fits on the modified box. Below a description how to make.

Cut a piece of iron wire netting. You can use a pair of scissors to cut. Dimensions: about 32 x 20 centimeters (1 ft  1 inch  x 8 inch). Mesh of the netting is 12.5  millimeters (0.5 inch).

Fold the wire netting as shown on the photos above;

  • Fold both short ends “upward, towards the center”,
  • Make sure that the folded netting is “1/2 mesh shifted”. That’s how meshes (holes) of 6.3 millimeters (0.25 inch) are formed. No mouse can get through.
  • In the middle, 3 meshes (1.5 inch) are unfolded.

Turn the netting “upside down”, so the folded ends are down. Bend the whole in a “n”-shaped form.

Put (bend) the whole over the top edge of the box at the opening (the handle).

Cut 2 short pieces of thin iron wire. Bend them in an “u”- shape (“u-wire”).

Put each “u-wire” from the inside outer through the iron wire messing (yellow arrows):

  • A few millimeters (about 1/4 inch) “under the upper side of the handle”,
  • One “u-wire” near the top left corner of the handle.
  • One “u-wire” near the top right corner of the handle.

Twist both ends of each “u” shape wire together. Push the loose ends of each “u-wire” into or against the netting (to prevent injury).

When needed press on the iron wire messing to make it fit (better).

The box and lid are ready for use now.

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74. Water-saving watering can.

When watering plants, you can direct the water jet towards the plants. The plants get water while the surrounding garden soil remains dry. There is less water usage and less weed growing in the garden soil around the plants.

When you want to use even less water and/or the water spray is to wide, you can use a water-saving sprinkler head (right side on the photo above).

In the Netherlands, a set of 2 water saving sprinkler heads (1 small and 1 large) costs €2.50 and can be ordered  here    . The “Ruco v620” sprinkler heads are made by RUCO GmbH in Velbert (Germany).

The holes in the water saving heads are about 1.4 millimeter (7/128 inch) diameter. There is 1 hole in the center, 12 holes at the outer edge and 4 holes “in between”.

Make yourself: you can drill holes in a fitting cap. Maybe this   Youtube video     can help.

The small and big water-saving sprinkler head fits on 2 watering cans.

The water jets from the sprinkler head. This way of watering is useful when watering plants that grow in a narrow furrow.

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Remark 1, “storage position” of the sprinkler head

My experience;  the sprinkler head easily “gets lost”. You can store the sprinkler head on the watering can as follows:

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Fasten each sprinkler head to the handler of the watering can using a tie-wrap. Move aside the tie-wrap to release the sprinkler head. Fasten the head(s) near the front of the watering can; then the handle is free during watering (and no watering head is in the way).

Making:

  • Put 1 tie-wraps loose around the handler of the watering can.
  • Put the (cylindrical part of the) sprinkler head in the loop of the tie-wrap.
  • Pull the tie-wrap tight around the (cylindrical part of the) sprinkler head.
  • Cut off the free part of the tie-wrap.
  • Now there is a well fitting tie-wrap around the handler.
  • You can fix another well fitting tie-wrap next to it (for 2 sprinkler heads).

Under the tie-wraps the heads are firmly held.  When the sprinkler head is held too loose, tighten the tie-wrap (1 tooth). When the sprinkler head is held too tight, replace the tie-wrap with a new, looser tie-wrap.

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Also suitable at small watering cans.

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Remark 2, small crack in the sprinkler head

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There can be a small crack in the side wall of the sprinkler head (happened to me). You can put a tie-wrap around the sprinkler head to repair.

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A plastic sprinkler head floats in water, even when it has a tie-wrap.

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Remark 3, sprinkler head falls off the watering can

It can happen that a “normal” sprinkler head drops from the watering can during use. Cause: the diameters of the sprinkler head and watering can do not meet.

  • The cylindrical tube of the sprinkler head is slightly tapered (this shape /  \):
    • Wider at the opening, narrower at the sprinkler head.
  • You can use a hack saw to shorten the cylindrical tube (see photo above).

Now the sprinkler head fits better to the watering can (see arrow). It will not drop so easily during watering.

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73. Moist toilet paper in a margarine box to sow on.

Small seeds easily germinate on moist toilet paper. Use one layer of toilet paper in an empty margarine box. Or fold a small gray plastic plate in 1 or 2 sheets of toilet paper and put the whole in the margarine box;  seeds and roots are more visible.

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Moist toilet paper easily tears; that is useful when picking a little plant from the paper. Often a piece of moist toilet paper is hanging at the root. That’s okay.

Using a small grey plastic plate:

  • Use an empty margarine box (250 grams). a sheet of dry toilet paper and a small grey plastic plate.
  • A description of making such a plate is to be found at nr 26 of this tip.

  • Fold the plastic plate in a sheet of dry toilet paper.
  • Put the whole in a box.

No plastic plate used:

  • Use an empty margarine box (250 grams).
  • And a sheet of dry toilet paper, cut in half.
  • Put the half sheet of toilet paper in the box.

Using margarine boxes for a germination test:

  • Lay on the bottom of the margarine box:
    • a sheet of dry toilet paper with plastic plate folded in or,
    • a half sheet of dry toilet paper.
  • Spray or pour cold water in the box.
  • Keep the box slanted to drain much water.
  • Lay the seeds on the moist paper.

  • Use a well fitting lid to close the margarine box. You may click the lid on the box; there will be some air openings between box and lid.
  • Put the whole at a suitable (warm or cool) place indoors.
  • Regularly check the germination process. Also check if the toilet paper is moist. When needed, spray water on the paper.

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72. Flower pots with insect mesh netting.

Lettuce seeds germinate at low temperatures. You can put a flowerpot with mesh netting or a normal flowerpot (upside down) over germinating seeds.

These photos show at left a flower pot with mesh netting, at right a normal flower pot, upside down. At left the lettuce plants are better visible (through the netting) and the lettuce plants are less thin.

This mesh netting pot is made of 2 bottomless plastic flower pots and a piece of plastic insect mesh netting. The flower pots on the photo have “thin walls”

A thin-walled flower pot with mesh netting deforms, but you can use them in the garden.

You can also use 2 firm thick-walled bottomless flower pots. A thick-walled flower pot with mesh netting deforms less.

Needed:

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  • Two equal shaped plastic flower pots, about 9 centimeters (3.5 inch) top diameter and 6 centimeters (2.5 inch) high.
  • A piece of plastic insect mesh netting.

Making:

  • Use sharp scissors to cut a piece of mesh netting, 12 centimeters (4  3/4 inch) square.

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  • Cut the bottom with a small part of the side from both plastic flower pots.

  • Lay the piece of insect mesh netting on the open bottom of one flower pot.
  • Put the other bottomless flower pot on the mesh netting.
  • Push the upper flower pot over the netting, over the lower flower pot.
  • Push the upper flower pot down as far as possible.
  • The flower pot with mesh netting is ready for use now.
  • This flower pot has a raised edge. Useful when watering.
  • Use the same steps to make thin-walled (black) flower pots with netting.

Remark (cardboard mold):

  • You can cut a square piece of cardboard, size 12 centimeters (4  3/4  inch) square and use it when cutting pieces of mesh netting. Useful when making many pots.

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71. Snail fences

(instead of the fences, you can use wire mesh protectors against snails, nr 80).

When many snails are eating, lay plastic flower pot saucers upside down on your garden soil, with a small opening below. Snails hide under them by day. Each day check. Release the snails somewhere else or …..

Snail fences around lettuce plants. Below a description how to make the fences.

Needed: iron wire netting, 12.7 mm (0.5 inch) mesh. Height about 1 meter.

  • Thickness of the iron wire is 0.65 mm (1/40 inch) and can be cut by normal scissors.
  • Cut a strip of 4 meshes (5 to 6 cm , 2.2 inch) wide and about 1 meter long.
  • Cut “in the middle of the squares”.
  • In this way, the strip gets sharp iron wires at both long sides.

  • Cut narrow plastic strips (from the bottom of a plastic margarine box).

  • Or use (cut off pieces of) broad tie wraps.

  • Bend (roll) the wire netting strip in a round, cylindrical form.
  • Put a piece of plastic (or piece of tie-wrap) in the netting to keep the shape.
  • The snail fence is ready for use.
  • Big snails can not (easily) pass these small iron wires at the top side.
  • Put a small snail fence around a small lettuce plant. Later on when the plant is bigger, make the snail fence bigger.

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70. Place mat with sowing holes

Seeds are often sown on a seedbed. To sow at fixed distances, you can use a place mat with small holes.

This place mat contains (32) small sowing holes at fixed distances.

Making:

  • Measure the size of the place mat. This one is 45 x 30 centimeters (1 ft   5  3/4 inch   x   11  13/16 inch).

  • Draw lines and crosses on the place mat (see further).
  • At this placemat the smallest pitch between the holes is 6.2 centimeters  (2  15/32 inch).
  • The plants can be replanted using the (6 cm) replanting tube.
  • Info about this replanting tube at tip 42.
  • Below you find info about distances between lines and crosses;

placemat 3a

  • Draw a vertical center line in the middle of the place mat (yellow arrows).

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  • Draw horizontal lines on the place mat, distance between the lines is 3.75 millimters (1  15/32  inch).

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  • Draw crosses at the intersections of the vertical line and the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th horizontal line (yellow circles).

  • Draw crosses every 10 centimeters (4 inch) on the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th horizontal line.

  • Draw crosses on the 2nd, 4th, and 6th horizontal line, but …. these crosses are in the middle between the crosses on the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th line;
  • Measure a distance of 5 centimeters (2 inch) on horizontal line 2, 4 and 6.
  • Draw a cross at there (on horizontal line 2, 4 and 6).
  • Draw crosses every 10 centimeters (4 inch) from that point on.

placemat 3c

This photo shows the place mat with 32 crosses. Yellow circles show some crosses.

  • Make the sowing holes in the place mat at the crosses;
    • Each time put the place mat “flat” on a plastic cutting board.
    • Use a hollow punch of 10 millimeters (13/32 inch) and a hammer to make the hole in the place mat.
  • It is very hard (almost impossible) to drill holes in the place mat. Using a hollow punch works well. Price of a set of 9 hollow punches is about € 10 in a DIY shop.

  • When the place mat is not flat on the cutting board while making a hole: tears in the plastic.
  • A place mat with one or a few teared holes can still be used for sowing.

  • The place mat with 32 sowing holes.

  • Make a small hole at each corner (using a hollow punch or iron nail).
  • Before sowing tou can put fixing pens in these small holes.

Fixing pens made of iron wire, thickness 2.5 millimeters (1/10 inch). Length about 15 centimeters (6 inch), handle is about  2.5  x 3.5 centimeters (1 inch x 1.4 inch). See tip 37.

You can cut 1 big place mat in half and make 2 small place mats with “different” sowing holes.

You can cut small pieces of place mat with holes that fit in a plastic margarine box.

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69. Frame of wooden laths around a seedbed.

You can use a wooden frame to make a seedbed in the garden soil. A place mat with sowing holes fits well in the frame.

But……

…… you can also make a sowing bed by shoving garden earth aside (using a small board). Put the shoved garden earth somewhere else in the garden.

A place mat with sowing holes in the same sowing bed.

A sowing bed made without a wooden frame is just as good as a sowing bed made with a frame.

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Below is described how to make the wooden frame:

Needed:

  • thin wooden laths, about 5 centimeters (2 inch) wide and 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) thick,
  • thin tie-wraps.

  • Saw the laths to the right length; all laths are 3 centimeters (1.2 inch) longer than the length or the width of the place mat.
  • Saw the ends of the laths angled.
  • Drill 2 small holes in the laths, near each end of a lath.

  • Connect the wooden laths using tie-wraps to form a frame.
  • Cut the “loose ends” of the tie-wraps.

  • Folding: when you put 1 tie-wrap at 2 opposing corners (and 2 tie-wraps in 2 other corners), you can fold the frame.

  • When desired you can make one big and one small frame (that fits around a whole or a half place mat).

  • Using the wooden frame.

Lawn edging:

Instead of a wooden frame you can use a piece of plastic lawn edging, e.g.  this one  .

Push a piece of lawn edging in loose garden soil. A part of the edging is double.

Adjust the size of the seedbed so a place mat with holes fits in it.

You can keep the lawn edging in the soil for a long time. Useful at watering.

Even simpler:

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Using 4 (loose) wooden laths and 4 short bamboo sticks, you can make a deep garden bed.

Needed:

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4 Wooden laths, each about 6 centimeters (2.4 inch) wide and 1 centimeter (0.8 inch) thick.

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Bamboo sticks of about 30 centimeters (12 inch) long.

Making the garden bed:

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  • Dig 4 furrows in the soil to form the periphery of the garden bed.

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  • Put (lay) 4 laths in the furrows.

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  • Put a bamboo stick in the soil at each inner corners.
  • Shove garden earth against the outer side of the 4 laths.
  • Deepen the garden bed.

At each inner corner:

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Get the bamboo stick out of the soil. Use an thick iron pen to deepen the hole in the soil. Put the bamboo stick in the soil again in the deepened hole.

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Push the bamboo stick so deep in the soil. The plant bed is ready for use now.

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68. Shove tray made of margarine boxes.

You can shove a block of sowing soil with small plants from an adapted margarine box into the garden soil.

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Or scoop a block of sowing soil with plants out of the box. And put the block in (on) the garden soil.

Below a description of making the “shove tray”.

Left in this photo a shove tray with 1 open side. At right a lowered box with 2 “bites” cut in the upper edge.low a description.

The shove tray fits in the tray with 2 bites (it forms a “combination”). The tray with bites provides a tight side wall to keep the sowing soil in place. And no water will flow out.

Pulling out: grasp the walls of the shove tray “at the bites” between thumb and index finger of 2 hands . Lift the shove tray, while using other fingers to push the tray with bites down.

Needed:

  • 2 plastic margarine boxes, each 450 grams,
  • a square or rectangular flat object, for example a CD box.
  • Scissors and pencil.

At 1 box, one short side wall must be removed. It is handy when the margarine box has small ridges at the inner side near the corners. On the photo above, a pencil point is near a ridge.

  • Hold the box “against the light”. The small ridge is visible at the outer side.
  • Draw a short line there.
  • Repeat at the “other side” of the box.

  • Hold the square or rectangular flat object (cd box) against the edge of the box, below the pencil mark.
  • Draw a vertical line on the box.
  • Repeat at the other side of the box.

  • Cut the upper part of the 450 grams margarine box;
    • When you cut right under the |_ edge of the box, you get a “high” tray of 5.5 centimeters (2   1/6 inc) high.
    • When you cut a little lower, you get a lower tray.
  • My experience; cutting right under the |_ edge is best.

  • Cut the box along the vertical pencil lines.

  • Put the box upside down.
  • Cut in the bottom of the box as shown on the right side photo.
  • Cut both sides of the box.

  • Cut and remove the side of the box. Cut a little from the bottom so the shove tray does not have a raised edge near the bottom. The block of sowing soil can be shoved or lifted easily then.

  • Cut the upper part of another 450 grams margarine box;
    • Cut right under the |_ edge of the box.
  • Draw a half circle on a long edge near the “right front corner”. You can use a coin to draw.
  • Repeat at the other side of the tray, near the right front corner too.

  • Cut 2 bites in the upper side of the box.

Both boxes (shove tray and tray with bites), ready for use.

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67. Small white plastic cap with seeds

You can use such a cap to put seeds in before sowing.

For example when sowing leek seeds on moist toilet paper.

  • Lay the cap with seeds at a corner.
  • Lay leek seeds on moist toilet paper.
  • Lift the cap from the moist paper (carefully shove and hold slanting).
  • Dry the bottom side (outer side) of the cap.

  • Carefully put the cap on top of the seeds. The dry cap will not stick to the dry sides of the seeds.
  • Lay seeds on moist toilet paper.
  • Carefully lift the cap from the seeds.

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66. Sieving dry cow manure

You can break dry manure into small pieces.

Use a big piece of dry manure.

Use your hands with gloves on to break dry manure into small pieces.

Close up photo of small manure pieces.

Sieve manure pieces through the bottom holes of a plastic flower pot. Put the large pieces in the bucket, break them in small pieces and sieve again, and so on.

A tea spoon with small manure pieces; small straw blades with manure, easily mixable with garden soil or compost.

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65. Sieve and flower pot dish to “make liquid cow manure”

When using a plastic kitchen sieve, a flower pot dish and 2 broad rubber bands, you can make a tool to dissolve manure in water. To make “liquid manure”.

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64. Nylon string with knots at fixed distances

A good tool for sowing is a nylon string with knots every 10 centimeters (4 inch).

At one end of the string there is a loop. The loop is over a bamboo stick (right photo). At the other side the string has been fixed to a stick using elastic band (left photo).

You end up with a straight sowing line with sowing marks.

In this way the rubber band has been put at the nylon string.

Making:

The description below is a copy of tip 38, D2) Nylon string with knots;

  • The nylon string is 2 millimeters (1/12 inch) thick and costs about € 0,10 per meter in The Netherlands. Each knot makes the string about 12 millimeters (0.5 inch) shorter. Take this in account when knotting.
  • For 4.5 meters (15 ft) of string with “a knot each 10 centimeters (4 inch), the start length is 5.2 meters (17 ft). With loop(s), the start length is about 5.8 meters (19 ft).
  • Make the first knot in the middle of the string. Then make knots every 10 centimeters (4 inch) from the middle to one end of the string. Then make knots from the middle to the other end of the string. In this way you don’t have to handle a very long string during knotting.
  • Making knots closer than 10 centimeters (4 inch) is useless; it needs good measurement and a lot of knotting.
  • Sowing every 5 centimeters (2 inch) with the “10 centimeter (4 inch) string” as follows; sow alternating at a knot and half way between 2 knots.

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63. Flower pot dish with a reclosable water drain

After heavy rain or too much watering, flower pots can be overflowing. The plant in the pot can drown or start rotting.

To drain the water you have to: lift the pot, remove the dish, empty the dish, put down the dish, put flower pot on the dish.

A drainable flower pot dish is very useful. You can make it yourself. Below a description.

This drain removes so much water that the bottom of the flower pot “gets dry”.

 Needed:

  • A flower pot dish
  • Plastic hose of about 11 mm (7/16 inch) outer diameter. This hose is sold in a fish pet store. Price about €1.25 per meter.
  • A drilling machine, drill bits and a pricker.

Making:

  • Put the dish aside on a wooden block.
  • Use the pricker to make a small hole, about 4 millimeters (5/32 inch) above bottom.
  • Use small, medium and bigger drill bits to make this hole bigger. End up with a round hole of about 10 millimeter (25/64 inch) diameter.
  • Tip: at each bigger size drill, first drill counter clock wise. then drill clock wise. This prevents the drill from “walking” during drilling.
  • Put the 10 millimeter drill through the hole.

  • Use a piece of plastic hose of 7.5 centimeters (3 inch) long.
  • Fold one end of the tube “double” and put this side into the hole.
  • Use a pencil or round wooden stick to “open the double end” of the hose.
  • The hose is about 5 millimeters (3/16 inch) at the inner side of the dish.
  • When desired, you can remove plastic flakes near the hole.

Usage:

Closing:

  • Bend the hose outside the dish upward.
  • Curve the hose and put the open end behind the edge of the dish.

Opening:

  • Pull the open end away from the edge of the dish.
  • Bend the hose down until the hose is “straight”.
  • When needed squeeze the hose to open or to round. Or put a round object (nail or stick) from outside in the hose. Then remove this object from the hose.

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62. Weighing (vegetables) using a luggage scale

You can weigh your harvest using a luggage scale. This scale has a hook and a band loop to hang on a bag filled with stuff to weigh. Lift the scale and read the weight.

This scale costs about € 7.00, can weigh up to 40 kilograms and has an accuracy of 50 grams.

Fix a piece of rope at two opposite sides of a shopping crate. Then you can weigh the whole using this luggage scale.

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61. Pulverizing cow manure pellets using bricks or paving stone parts

Cow manure pellets can easily be pulverized into powder:

Manure pellets in a margarine box.

mestkorrels 1

Put a (news)paper in a low cardboard box. Put a (half) stepping stone on the newspaper. Strew manure pellets on the stone.

mestkorrels 2

Press and turn the stone to pulverize the pellets.

mestkorrels 3

Remove the stones. Shove the pulverized manure on the newspaper.

mestkorrels 4

Sieve the pulverized manure through a kitchen sieve in a (white) tray.

mestkorrels 5

Pulverized sieved manure in a (white) tray.

And coarse manure in the sieve. You can pulverize and sieve it again.

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60. Little volume spoon for small (vegetable) seeds

A coffee volume spoon exists. But there is no spoon available to scoop small seeds from a seed bag. You can make one yourself.

With this volume spoon you can scoop 70 to 80 carrot seeds from a bag. That can be useful before sowing.

Made from an old ballpoint:

Needed: a ballpoint, a plastic tea spoon and screws of 2 mm diameter.

At the back side of this ballpoint there is a small air hole.

Take the marker out of the pen.

Use a small hacksaw to saw about 1 centimeter (2/5 inch) from the back side.

When needed, use a 2 millimeter drill to enlarge the hole.

Saw the plastic spoon in 2 parts. Drill a 2 millimeter hole in the handle.

Use sand paper to remove plastic flakes from tube and handle.

  • Fix the tube to the handle with the screws.
    • Use 1 or 2 nuts to fasten.
  • Put the spoon in a seed bag and fill it with seeds, put the seeds in a (white) tray and count the seeds.
  • The spoon on the photo (6 millimeter (1/4 inch) high, 5 millimeter (1/5 inch) inner diameter can contain about 75 summer carrot seeds or 35 leek seeds.

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Made from the cap of a small dental brush:

  • These    brushes    , (from a drugstore) have handy caps.

  • In the cap there is a small hole already. Drill this hole bigger to 2 millimeters.
  • Use a 2 millimeter bolt and nuts to fix the cap on the spoon handle.
  • Saw or cut the small tube to the desired length.

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59. Connecting 2 pieces of electricity conduit (for a garden foil tunnel)

At a foil tunnel greenhouse, there are pieces of PVC conduit pipe in an arc shape in the ground. When the conduit pipe is too short, you can connect 2 tubes together:

  •  There are 2 thicknesses; thin (5/8 inch) and thick (3/4 inch). A thin conduit pipe fits well in a thick conduit pipe.
  • You can put 2 thin pipes in a piece of thick pipe. Drill 2 small holes through the tubes. Put a tie wrap in each hole and close the tie wrap at the inner side of the bow (to prevent damaging the foil).

You can also put 2 thick pipes over a piece of thin pipe and fix with tie wraps.

When the edges of the thick pipe are too rough and can damage the plastic foil later, you can put adhesive tape over the edges.

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58. Water tubes as a sowing tool

You can make a sowing tool using “watering tubes” and elastic band to drop seeds at desired places.

View of the sowing tool.

Use:

  • Put the sowing tool at a sowing spot.
  • Grab each seed between thumb and index or use tweezers and drop it in a tube.
  • Or drop each seed from a “shift drop tray” into a tube.

Sowing result of leek seeds on quartz sand. Each seed is in a circle (the print of a tube bottom). The seeds are far apart from each other.

Making:

Use a sharp knife to cut the bottom and the upper half from each tube. End up with tubes of about 6 centimeters (2.4 inch) high.

Put 2 elastic bands around the tubes.

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57. Plastic flower pot for drying (latex) gloves

After a (garden) job the inner side of latex gloves can be wet with sweat. After working you can take each glove from your hand “inside out”. Let the gloves dry for later use.

Hung to dry:

Put each glove over the edge of an adapted flower pot and hang the whole on a clothesline. The inner sides and the outer sides of the gloves dry.

When the gloves are dry, turn the gloves back right side out. The gloves can be used again.

Making:

  • Use flower pots with an edge that is a little larger than the edge of the gloves( so it will not drop during hanging).
  • Cut away the bottom of each pot.
  • Then cut 2 V-shaped slots (“checkmarks”) in the side of each flower pot.

When not used, you can stack the adapted flower pots.

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Lay flat to dry:

  • Take each glove from your hand (turning inside out).
  • Lay each glove on a flat piece of cloth. Spread the fingers of the glove.
  • The gloves dry on the cloth and in the air.

  • When the gloves are dried up:
    • Turn each glove back right side out.
    • The gloves are ready for use again.

  • You can put the gloves in the (original) package again.

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56. Watering plants using a plastic window box liner and hoses

When using a window box liner and hoses, you can water many plants at the same time.

Needed:

  • Plastic window box liner, length about 1 meter (3 ft),
  • Thin plastic (green) hose, 1/2 inch outer diameter or slightly thinner, for sale in a fish pet store.
  • Garden hose (black/green), “normal version”, for sale in a garden shop or DIY store, inner diameter 1/2 inch.

Making:

  • Drill holes in the side of the box liner, just above the bottom.
  • Each hole is about 1 millimeter (1/25 inch) smaller than the outer diameter of the thin green hose. So the thin green hose will fit watertight in the hole.
  • During drilling, hold a wooden block against the inner side of the box.

  • All holes drilled in the sidewall of the box.

  • Cut small pieces from the thin green hose, length about 2 inch.

  • Fold “up” one end of the thin green hose and put it (from the outside) into a hole, until about 1 centimeter (3/8 inch) in the box liner.

Put a short round stick  into the thin green hose and open the “folded up end”.

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Put short pieces of thin green hose in all holes in the window box liner.

  • (When needed, fold “up” the outer end of the thin green hose).
  • Slide a long piece of black/green garden hose over the thin green hose until right against the box.
  • (Use a short stick to open the “folded up end” of the thin green hose).

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When you have slightly  t h i n n e r  green hose, act as follows:

  • Put a cable tie (tie-wrap) tight around the black/green garden hose.
  •  Put the long piece of black/green garden hose (with tie-wrap) over the thin green hose until right against the box. When needed, tighten the tie-wrap.

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  • Determine for each plant the needed length of the black/green garden hose.
  • Fix all pieces of black/green garden hose to the box liner as described above.

Put the window box liner on tiles or bricks. Lead all pieces of black/green garden hose to the pouring edges of the plants.

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Supporting the green/black garden hose

Between the box liner and a plant, the black/green garden hose must be sloping so no water remains in the hose. The black/green hose must be supported;

  • Put each black/green garden hose sloping on bricks on the soil,
  • Or put each black/green garden hose on sloping garden soil.

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Lid on the box liner and a shape-retaining box liner

Put a flat piece of plastic (for example perspex) on the box liner. Put bricks or stones on. The box liner stays clean and free of snails.

Fix nylon cord around the box liner to prevent the box from “bulging” (and the plastic plate from falling in).

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Snails in the black/green garden hose

At the outlet orifice of the black/green garden hose, small slugs can creep into the hose. During watering, less water flows through the hose to the plant then.

You can put a piece of (nylon) insect screen over the black/green hose near the outlet orifice. See photos above. It is also useful to clamp the outlet opening between the stem of the plant and the stick, see photos above.

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Making insect screen “sock”

Needed:

  • (nylon) insect screen mesh, about 14 x 10 centimeters (5.5 x 4 inch).
  • rubber band.

Making:

  • Use scissors to cut a piece of insect screen. You can use a piece of cardboard. Useful when making many pieces of insect screen.

  • Roll the piece of screen around (1 inch of) black/green garden hose.

  • Fold the insect screen double and put a rubber band over the hose.

The insect screen sock is well over the outlet opening. Use new rummer bands each year.

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Winter storage

Take (pull) all pieces of green/black garden hose from the thin green hoses. Lay the black/green garden hoses in the window box liner. Little storage space needed.

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55. Support for sweet pepper plants in a circular mortar bucket.

(Instead of a mortar bucket, you can use a big flower pot).

You can have 3 sweet pepper plants growing in a thick compost layer in a big mortar bucket. And fix the plants to bamboo sticks that are kept upright with laths and pipe brackets.

Making:

Determine how the laths fit at the edge of the barrel and what length is needed. You can use laths of about 12 millimeters (1/2 inch) x  25 millimeters (1 inch).

Saw each lath to the desired length and drill 2 holes of approx. 5 mm (1/5 inch); each hole near the end of the lath.

Fix a pipe clamp near the middle of the lath (at the narrow side of the lath).

Needed to fix the laths to the edge of the barrel; bolts, (wing) nuts, rings. Size approx. 5 mm (1/5 inch).

  • Drill holes in the edge of the bucket.
  • Put a ring over the bolt.
  • Push the bolt (from bottom to top) through the hole in the edge.
  • Put a lath over the bolt.
  • Put on a ring and a (wing) nut. Tighten the (wing) nut.

Fix all laths on the edge of the bucket. Put the (bamboo) sticks through the pipe clamps into the compost layer. Fix the pepper plants to the (bamboo) sticks using fixing strips.

paprikasteun4

Later on, with heavy sweet peppers at the branches, you can support the branches as described at 17. Simple support for “heavy” pepper branches. 

You can use these type of “clamps” to fix the (bamboo) sticks.

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Simple construction.

Instead of wooden laths you can use a nylon cord with loops to support the bamboo sticks. Here is a description.

Needed:

  • 3 screw eyes, flat rings and nuts, about 5 millimeters (1/5 inc) diameter,
  • (round) nylon cord.

  • Determine where screw eyes must be put at the edge of the bucket
  • Drill a hole of about 5 millimeters (1/5 inch) in the edge,
  • Put a screw eye with a big flat ring (from top to bottom) in the hole,
  • At the lower side of the edge put a small flat ring and a nut on the screw eye. Tighten the nut.
  • Execute these actions at 3 positions of the edge of the bucket.

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  • Put a layer of compost in the bucket, thickness 15 to 20 centimeters (6 to 8 inch).
  • Tie up one end of the cord in one screw eye.

  • Make a loop in the cord about 20 centimeters (8 inch) further away and put a bamboo stick in the loop. Put the bamboo stick vertical in the layer of compost in the bucket.
  • Put the cord through the next screw eye. Make sure that the cord is taut.
  • Execute the above steps at each screw eye.

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  • Tie the loose end of the cord in the first screw eye. Put extra knots in the cord. When needed, shorten the loose end of the cord.

Put (3) sweet pepper plants in the bucket. Fix each plant to a bamboo stick. This fixing goes well when using a plastic strip.

The mortar bucket with 3 screw eyes, nylon cord, 3 bamboo sticks, and 3 sweet pepper plants.

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You can also put tomato plants in a big mortar bucket or flower pot.

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grote emmer tomatenplant

Or put tomato plants in a big bucket with a layer of compost. Fix the bamboo stick to the big bucket using a tie-wrap through the holes of the bucket handle.

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54. Keeping straw beans free from the garden soil (tip of Wim)

Wim is a Dutch gardener. He sent me some gardening tips. Thanks Wim.

At rainy weather beans can go down to the wet garden soil, rot or be eaten by slugs or snails. This can be prevented by using a framework made of plastic electricity conduit tubes and wire netting. The framework is put on iron pens, about 4 inch above the garden soil. The bean plants grow through the holes in the netting.

More info:

  • Metal wire netting, hexagon 2 inch mesh size,
  • Put the frame on the soil when bean plants are 2 to 3 inch high,
  • Frame is 4 to 5 inch above soil,
  • Frame is 4 ft long and 1 ft wide.

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53. Frame with insect gauze (tip of Wim)

To protect cabbage plants from insects one can use insect gauze. You can use plastic electricity conduit tubes to lay the gauze on. To prevent weeds from growing into the gauze you can lay plastic foil on the garden soil. Then lay the gauze on the plastic foil. One can lay many plastic bottles filled with sand to fix the gauze. Drill a hole in each bottle cap to prevent bottles from expansion.

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52. Greenhouse made of corrugated plate, standing on 4 wooden pins (tip of Wim)

This tunnel greenhouse can be used to grow plants during early spring. Before sowing or planting, put the tunnel on the garden soil and push all 4 pins completely in the ground. The upper part of the greenhouse can be taken away when sowing or planting or watering.

When temperature in the tunnel gets too high, complete greenhouse can be lifted. The 4 pins will be partial in the ground then.

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51. “Baskets” to protect plants, made of wire netting and thick iron wire (tip of Wim)

Wim made these baskets to protect plants and fruits from birds.

On these photos the basket has been placed on concrete blocks. The frame has been made from iron wire of about 4  mm (1/6 inch) thick. The frame has been covered with metal wire netting.

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50. Thick string with marks at fixed distances (tip of Wim)

Wim made this tool to sow or plant at fixed distances.

A string with fixed marks has been tightened between 2 sticks.

On this string pieces of isolated wire have been used as marks.

When you use a thin string, there is a description at nr 5 (“Thin string with marks at fixed distances”) in this tip.

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49. Fastening bean stakes using a wire tensioner (tip of Wim)

Bean stakes are fixed together at the tops. You can do that using an adapted wire tensioner (wire tightener). There is an extra iron pen in this wire tightener. See Wim’s photos below.

Three stakes fastened by using the adapted wire tensioner. The wire has not been led through the hole in the tightener but along the extra pin.

Adapted wire tensioner with wire, 2 extra holes drilled in and an extra pen.

Detail photo of the adapted wire tensioner (with 2 extra holes and pin).

Remark:

Big tie-wraps can also be used to fasten bean stakes easily, as shown on the photo above.

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48. Bottles on sticks, ice cream sticks as nameplates, empty beakers to sow in (some tips of Liane)

Liane is a Dutch lady. She sent me some tips. Liane, thanks.

Summary:

  • Put empty plastic bottles upside down on sticks to protect against damage or injury.
  • Use ice cream sticks as nameplates.
  • Use empty yoghurt cups or beakers to sow in. First prick some holes in the bottom.
  • When rain barrel is full during raining, fill big plastic bottles with water from the barrel. Do this to get an extra water stock at dry times.

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47. Sieving compost or (potting) soil through a plastic flower pot.

You can use a plastic flower pot with big or small bottom holes when sieving soil, potting soil or compost.

vroege zowo 54

Use a big flower pot when sieving compost or garden soil.

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46. Strewing a thin layer of sand using a small flower pot

After sowing a thin layer of sand is strewed on the seeds. You can use a small plastic flower pot with bottom holes to do that.

Put the empty flower pot on the soil. Put a thin layer of moist garden earth in it. Take the flower pot in your hand and keep it above the seeds.

Shake or tap against the flower pot to have the garden earth falling through the bottom holes. The photos show a thin or a thick layer of garden earth in a tray.

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45. Pieces of curling cord to train stems of stake beans (see also 36 and 11 of this tip).

krulsnoer 1

krulsnoer 2

Curling cords from electric tools can be utilized to train tendrils or plant stems. These cords are double stranded. Cut the plugs from the cords.

krulsnoer 3

Determine the needed length; put the curling cord around the stake and mark the required length (for example using a drawing pin).

krulsnoer 4

Remove the drawing pin. Use scissors to cut the cord near the small hole from the drawing pin in the cord. This piece has 4 curls.

krulsnoer 5

From one piece of curling cord you can cut many pieces.

When you split 1 piece of double stranded cord you get 2 pieces of single stranded cord. But double stranded cords work better than single stranded cords:

  • Double stranded cord is easier to fasten and to loosen.
  • Double stranded cord gives less pressure on the bean plant stem.
  • Double stranded cord stays in a better shape around the stake.

Practicing:

Pull both ends of the piece of cord until cord is “straight”. Then turn it around the stake. The cord will not shift down. When needed, pull a “curl” of the cord to have it less tight around the stake.

Fixing:

Pull both ends until straight and “catch” all bean stems that you want to fix. Push the cord with caught stems towards the stake. Turn the cord around the stake. When needed, pull some curls to loosen the cord around the stake.

Remark:

  • This method (no 45) is the best and the easiest one. It is more useful than the method of no 36 (iron wire) and no 11 (plastic strips) of this tip.

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44. Band of fabric to cover seeds right after sowing.

To protect seeds from the bright sun and drying out you can put small boards or pieces of plate on the furrow.

Or make a band of fabric with small laths. The fabric has been clamped between a “big” and a “small” lath and fixed with wood screws. The band on the photo is 5 feet (1.5 m) long and 6 inch (15 cm) wide.

The band of fabric on a furrow, with the big wooden laths down. Lay bricks on the laths against blowing away.

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43. Watering pot that can be opened

When you want to water a plant you can use a “watering pot”.

This is a watering pot that fits around a small plant or a thin stem.

When the plant is very big, you can make a watering pot that can be opened. A big strong metal paper clamp keeps the watering pot closed (water tight).

Making: Cut a high normal watering pot from a big plastic flower pot. Cut the side wall. At each end, fold up about 0.5 inch. Clamp each fold for about 1/2 hour between 2 laths in a bench vice. Then take it out of the vice and fold it back to “quadrangular”.

Put the watering edge around a plant. Put a metal paper clamp on. Push the watering pot about 1 inch into the soil. Now much water can be poured in.

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42. Planting potatoes using a bulb planter

You can use a bulb planter to make plant holes when planting potatoes. As described     here    and     this one.

Useful: put a (nylon) string with knots or short pieces of (green) iron wire at fixed distances. Under each knot (or wire) a potato is planted in the soil.

This bulb planter has depth marks (in centimeters) at the side.

Put the bulb planter into the soil.

  • Take the bulb planter with garden earth out of the soil.
  • Strew some garden earth into the hole when the hole is too deep.
  • Put the potato in the hole with most eyes and sprouts up.

Open the bulb planter above the hole and drop the garden soil into the hole.

The seed potatoes are about 10 centimeters (4 inch) below the soil level. Later on the potato plants are often “ridged”;  garden earth is shoved against the sides of the potato plants. From then on, the potato plants grow in long hills, with furrows between the hills. The garden soil gets warmer and drier and the potato plants grow a little faster. The ware potatoes in the hill are “deep” in the soil; they are not exposed to (sun) light and will not discolor to green.

My experience; manual ridging potato plants is heavy work.

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Remark (planting deeper), not ridging:

When you don’t want to ridge, you can act as follows;

Lay or drop the seed potato in a deep(er) planting hole, about 15 centimeters (6 inch) deep.

Strew a thin layer of garden earth on the seed potato in the planting hole to protect the potato against cold. Pour water in each planting hole right after planting. The stems of the plant can easily pass this thin layer of garden earth

Later on, put extra garden earth in the planting holes (cover stems and leaves) when night frost is forecast.

(When leaves are frozen, new stems and leaves are growing on the plant later. The plant does not die, but the growth is delayed).

The garden soil right after planting the seed potatoes.

After a while the planting holes are filled with garden earth (due to hoeing) and potato plants grow well.

My experience; this procedure (planting deep and not ridging) works very well. too. The ware potatoes are deep in the garden soil; they are not exposed to (sun) light and will not discolor to green. The potato harvest is “normal”.

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Further potato plant care:

  • Pour water in the planting holes (or furrows) each 2 weeks in the evening. At dry weather, water weekly.
  • Put a piece of plastic or tarpaulin over the potato plants at night when night frost is forecast. Remove the cover during daytime.

In this way you get big potato plants and a normal harvest.

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41 Sprouting (chitting) potatoes in a cardboard egg box or in compost

Sprouting (chitting) potatoes: put them at light place at about 10 C (41 F). Internet sites show how to use a cardboard egg box. For example       here   .

Potatoes after 3 weeks of sprouting in an egg box. You can write info on the egg box.

You can sprout potatoes on a layer of compost in a box. Partially close the box with plastic foil or put the lid “shifted” on the box to make an air opening. Spray the compost and potatoes regularly.

After 3 weeks at about 15 to 20 C (59 to 68 F), there are sprouts.

After sprouting in compost, there are roots at the potatoes (at left on the photo). The right potato has been sprouted in a cardboard egg box.

After planting, sprouting potatoes with roots give potato plants that are earlier above the ground than “air chitted” or “not sprouted” potatoes.

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40. Method to take a plant with a big root ball out of a flower pot (tip of Frits, a Dutch gardener).

  • Take an empty plastic flower pot. Cut away a round part of the bottom. Cut away about 4/5 of the bottom area. So you end up with an edge of about 0.5 to 1 inch. When there are holes in the bottom of the pot, you can cut frome hole to hole.
  • When using, put the empty pot on a flat plate. Then strew a thin layer of potting soil in the pot. Layer thickness about 0.5 inch (1 cm). Compress the layer of potting soil in the pot. Then put soil in the pot until full and press gently. Sow the seeds on (in) the potting soil.
  • When the plant has grown big and you want to take out the plant, push your thumbs against the root ball (potting soil) in the big hole at the bottom of the pot. The plant and root ball wil get out of the pot easily and complete.

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39. Aluminium foil behind indoor growing plants (tip from Frits, a Dutch gardener).

alu folie 2

Light green: tray with small plants. Blue: aluminium foil pasted on cardboard.

Put a tray with small plants before a window. Paste a piece of aluminium foil on cardboard. Fold about 3 inch (7 centimeters) at the lower side. Put the tray on this folded edge. Fold the foil behind the tray straight up. Fold both sides of the vertical foil a little. Now you have a  \__/ shaped mirror behind and next to the plants. The plants get light from many sides and the plants grow up straight. To strengthen the “mirror” you can glue aluminium foil cardboard and put the system behind the plants.

Don’t do this at a window at the sunny side of your house; too hot for the plants.

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38. Name plates made of aluminium Venetian blinds (tip of Sandor, a Dutch gardener).

Use old narrow aluminium Venetian blinds. Cut into pieces of about 12 inch. Write on text. Bend each piece of blind “a little in longitudinal direction” to form a small V-shaped furrow. This makes them stronger and easier to put into the soil.  The plates will not rust or rot because they’re made of aluminium.

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37. Supports for small leak plants

Young leek plants grow indoors with long thin blades. You can support the plants with these simple holds.

Use thin iron wire with plastic coating and bend the supports as shown on the photo above.

Push each support in the soil next to the leek. With the leek plant through the ring of the support.

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Wim, a Dutch gardener sent me next 4 tips (no’s 36, 35, 34 and 33). Wim, thank you very much.

36. Stakes with loops to train tendrils of stake beans (see also no 36 and no 11 of this tip).

It is good to train tendrils of stake beans along the stake otherwise they will grow at random. Training is easy at stakes that have cord loops, see photo above. The tendrils are trained through the loops, especially at the lower part of the stakes. Very often the tendrils grow (of themselves) through the loops at a higher position at the stakes.

If you don’t want to staple (tack) or the stakes are made of metal or bamboo, you can make the loops as follows (my idea);

Needed:

  • 2 plastic clips, about 4 inch long. The clips can be bought at a DIY store. Price of 4 clips is about €3.00.
  • Thin nylon cord, about 20 inch long. Hold each end in the flame of a candle to melt the plastic fibers. Tie a loop at one end of the cord.

Mounting:

Use one clip to clamp 1 end of the string at the lower side of the stake.

Turn the other side of the cord around the stake (6 inch higher) and form a loop.

Make (every 6 inch) one or more “open loops” around the stake. Finally use another clip to fix the cord to the stake.

Put tendrils behind the lower loop or the lower loop but one. When needed, shift the top clip a little to make the loops on the stake more or less open.

Removal of the loops:

When bean plants have grown high enough, you can remove the string and clips. Loosen the lower clip. Then carefully remove the string. Finally remove the top clip.

Remark:

The method of no 45 ( spiral cord) is the best and easiest one. Much easier than the method of no 36 and 11 of this tip.

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35. Little board for sowing at fixed distances.

When you sow a crop that is thinned out later at a certain distance, it is good to use a small board with distance marks. Lay the seeds near the marks on the board. Thin out later at those positions.

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34. Making sowing furrows with a wooden rake.

Prepare a sowing bed with a trident tool and a wooden rake. Put a string or elastic band over the soil. Put the rake on the soil and push away some earth to make a small furrow. After sowing you can use the rake to fill the furrow with earth.

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33. Useful storage of sachets of seed.

Use plastic cheese boxes. Small seed bags fit in boxes for cheese slices. Bigger sachets and seed boxes fit in boxes for pieces of cheese. Put on a sticker with text and put the box in a small case.

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32. Tool for hanging a hose over the edge of a water barrel.

When you fill a barrel with tap water it can happen that the hose gets out of the barrel during filling. And water is spilled.

Fix the hose to the edge of the barrel using 2 clamps next to each other. This barrel has a sharp edge so the clamps will not slide off so easily.

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31. Planting plants using a bulb planter

Each year in mid spring you can put many plants in your garden. Using a bulb planter is a good method:

  • Use a bulb planter to make a small pit in the ground.
  • When needed, strew some manure or compost in the pit.
  • Put some earth in the pit when it’s too deep for the plant.
  • Put the plant in the pit.
  • When needed, pour some water in the pit next to the plant.
  • Shove some garden soil in the pit against the root ball of the plant.  You can make a “watering edge” round the plant as shown on the last photo.

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30. Modified step ladder for picking stake beans

When picking stake beans you need a small step ladder to reach the high growing beans. For example this type of ladder. Underneath the legs two laths were fixed with chipboard screws in the plastic parts. These laths prevent the step ladder from “sinking” in the earth. Useful when picking pole beans.

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29. Board for flowerpots with small plants

Mount small wooden laths on the 4 edges of a board.  Then put an empty plastic bag over the board. The board should fit well in the bag.

Fold the slap of the bag.

(Or fold the slap under the board and fix it with thumbtacks).

Put small pots with plants on the board. After watering, water flows on the board. Water will not flow from the board thanks to the side laths. The water will evaporate or be absorbed by the (potting) soil in the flowerpots.

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28. Container for fruit and vegetable waste (kitchen and garden waste)

You can put kitchen waste and small garden waste in this type of container. The contents of this container is 25 liters. When full, the container can easily be transported (in a bicycle rear pannier) to the compost heap or container.

Making: At another container of the same type and size, saw the bottom plus 1 inch side. Drill 4 holes in this bottom. The dark blue bottom is laying on 4 vertical strips, about 4 inch above the bottom of the white container. Thanks to this, the material in the white container stays dry.

Instead of the container bottom, you can use a sawn piece of thick perspex. See below.

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New design:

comp bak 3

You can use a plastic bin of this type.

comp bak 4

This container  has a bottom plate made of thick perspex.

Making: Put the bin on a piece of thick perspex (or other material). Use a pencil to draw the circumference of the bin on the perspex plate. Use a jigsaw to saw out the perspex bottom plate.

comp bak 5

Put (lay) the perspex bottom plate in the bin on the 4 “vertical ribs”. Moisture (from the waste) can flow to the bottom of the bin along the bottom plate.

comp bak 3

Put the lid on the bin. Use the bin to fill with plant waste and kitchen waste.

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The bin fits well in a bicycle rear pannier.

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27. Sowing tips (general)

This info is from books and my own experience.

For germination, seeds need water, air and heat.  Soon after germinating the root enters the soil. The stem with leaves rises into the air.

For good sowing do the next steps. Reasons further in this post.

Actions:

  1. Before sowing, loose the soil with a scoop and mix nutritious matters (compost, manure, garden lime) through the earth when needed.
  2. At plants with deep roots e.g. carrots, chicory) loose the soil about 8 inches deep.
  3. Make a shallow furrow in the loosed ground, 2 inch deep.
  4. Water the soil in the furrow. Pour with a watering can with fine shower head. Hold the shower near the ground. Add much water.
  5. Lay or scatter seeds on the moist earth in the furrow.
  6. Strew a thin layer of moist, crumbled earth on the seeds in the furrow.
  7. After this step do not add water for the next days.
  8. When desired, cover the furrow with a tunnel or plates or so.

Why:

  • At 1 and 2: The root of the plant can easily grow into the soil and take nutritious matters.
  • At 3: In the furrow you can add much water to the soil, a furrow is lower than the surrounding soil (the earth in the furrow does not dry so fast) and it indicates the sowing area.
  • At 4:  Watering is necessary because after sowing you don’t water for some days (or weeks). When using a fine shower head, the soil keeps open and airy.
  • At 5: The seeds can absorb water easily.
  • At 6: So air can pass through the soil layer and reach the seeds. The strewn soil is moist so seeds do not dry out so fast.
  • At 7: When you water right after sowing, the earth on the seeds can get compact and air can not pass so easy anymore.
  • At 8: Faster germination at higher temperature.

Water the soil in the furrow after some days or weeks using a fine shower.

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26. Grey rectangular plate to see germinating seeds

Germinating seeds of carrots, leek, onions etc are better visible when you fold a grey rectangular plate in toilet paper. Such a plate can be made of a grey box, for example a gray lunch box.

trommeltje

  • Start with a gray box.
  • Carefully saw out the desired parts of the box (use a hack saw).
  • Adjust the size to fit in a margarine box.
  • At each plate you can round the corners.

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25. Small seeds (tray, crown cap, plastic cap, cocktail stick)

To sow small seeds it’s good to strew some in a small tray or crown cap.  In this way it’s easier to pick up one seed after another using tweezers or so.

Or use a small white cap to put the seeds in before sowing.

Small seeds are easy to pick up with the moist tip of a cocktail stick. The seed sticks to the cocktail stick. When a seed touches moist earth (moist paper), it will ”leave” the cocktail stick and will adhere to the earth (or paper).

This way of sowing is much easier and faster than using tweezers or carefully strewing from the seed sachet.

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24. Crop rotation and garden plan in Excel

New: On the site of a dutch gardner (Kees de Boon), there is a Dutch description of making the garden plan in Excel. It is   here   .

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Crop rotation

It is better to grow your vegetables each season at another place in the garden than at the former (6) seasons. This prevents the soil from impoverishment of certain nutrients and plant diseases. Use a crop rotation plan to record the places where you grow your vegetables.  You can make a crop rotation plan in Excel.

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Garden plan

You can use an Excel sheet to record the sowing, planting and harvesting data.

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23. Bucket greenhouse

You can use a transparent plastic bucket to make a greenhouse. This greenhouse can be put over small plants.

Make the greenhouse as follows;

  • Use a plastic transparent bucket (of birds feeding balls).
  • Use a hacksaw to saw wedge shaped holes in the lower edge of the bucket.
    • Sawing is easier than drilling holes in the bucket.
    • Sawing is more safe than cutting with a sharp knife.
  • After sawing, remove plastic flakes with a peeling-knife and sand-paper.

Put the bucket over a transparent flower pot to form a double greenhouse.

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22. Simple “dark space” for chicory

Chicory grows in the garden. The plants are taken out in mid or late autumn. The foliage is cut shortly. The roots are put in flower pots or containers filled with moist earth or moist compost. On each chicory root a Witloof head will grow in the dark. (In daylight, green leaves will grow on). So you need a dark space, see description below.

Dark space (cardboard box):

You can put a cardboard box upside down over chicory plants. Cut away some cardboard material to make air holes at the lower sides of the box. The box must be high enough to cover the chicory heads.

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Dark space (cardboard cylinder), very useful:

karton 1

Make a dark space out of 2 cardboard sheets (about 50 x 70 centimeters, 1 ft  8 inch  x  2 ft  4 inch), clothespins and paper clips.

karton 5

Bend the cardboard sheets round and fasten them (up side and down side) using paper clips.

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karton 6

karton 7

Use clothes pins to make air openings in the cylinder (at the sides). Put the cylinder over the flower pot with chicory roots.

Put a low cardboard box on top of the cylinder. More info at tip 24) Growing chicory.

This dark area is simple and works well.

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21. Chicken-food (mixed cereals) used as a green manure.

In early autumn you can grow green manure in the garden soil. During winter the soil will be covered with green long leaves. Less nutrients will wash out of the soil during heavy rain. In spring the green manure crop is digged in the earth.

You can sow winter rye as green manure. For sale in some gardening stores.

Or you can sow “mixed cereals” (chicken-food) as a green manure. It contains whole seeds of wheat, barley and oats. For sale in a pet store.

Make sure you don’t buy cracked cereals; cracked grain seeds do not germinate or only poorly.

Sow mixed cereals at night (after sun set) and rake it deep(er) in the garden soil. To prevent birds from eating many seeds.

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In a backyard garden you can put wire mesh on the soil after sowing. Below a description:

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Use a rake to make a lower area of about 1 square meter (1.2 square yard). And a little dam.

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Sow chicken-food seeds on the soil in the lower area.

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A (bamboo) stick in the soil marks the area with chicken food seeds. Use a rake to “push back” and spread the garden earth over the seeds.

Repeat these steps at other areas in your garden.

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Lay iron wire mesh on top of the soil. I use the wire mesh that was over the strawberry plants against bird eating (tip 23).

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After a few weeks the (wheat) plants are this high and you can remove the iron wire mesh.

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Garden soil with little green manure plants.

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20. Feeding birds in a butterfly-bush

Cut the bottom (+ a little side wall) from a plastic laundry-basket. Put 2 sticks through the edge. Attach thick iron hooks  to the sticks.

You can also use a washing up bowl to make this, see remark.

Fix the whole in a butterfly-bush; put the sticks between the vertical branches, tie (sisal) twine around the bush and fix the twine to the sticks.

The twine pushes the branches of the butterfly-bush inward. Only small birds can pass the branches. You can hang fat balls and peanut nets. And hang a box with “bird seed” at the stick. Under the “roof”, the bird food remains dry.

Below photos from late autumn until mid winter (November – January).

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In April, early spring, the “roof” is removed and the butterfly-bush is pruned.

Big plant, use branches

When the Butterfly-bush has grown (too) big, you can remove the plant from the garden. Cut the long branches and save them for next winter.

See below;

Fill a big flower pot or mortar bucket (with bottom holes) with garden earth. Put the long branches of the Butterfly bush in the earth near the edge of the bucket. Use (sisal) twine to fasten a “birds roof” to the branches.

Two sparrows and one blue tit near the birds feeding spot.

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Remark (washing up bowl) and iron wire:

vlinderstruik 1

vlinderstruik 5

You can use an upside down washing up bowl. It is fixed to the butterfly bush using rope and sticks through side wall.

vlinderstruik 2

Use thin iron wire to make this “frame”.

vlinderstruik 3

Fix a margarine box in the iron frame.

vlinderstruik 4

Put another margarine box in. Fill it with birds feed. Hang it under the roof.

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19. Tools in a compost vessel

In tip 42 there is described how to make a garden tool storage out of a compost vessel, a big flower pot and a drain tube.

Below a description of garden tool storage in a “normal” compost vessel.

One can use a plastic compost vessel for storage of short garden tools, bamboo sticks, pieces of metal netting and so on. More about this storage in tip 42).

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18. Cut square flower pots from tray

You can buy plants in this kind of plastic trays.  If you need plastic square pots, use sharp scissors and cut them from the tray.

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17.  Simple support for “heavy” pepper branches

New: When you prune sweet pepper plants, you end up with low plants with a few big peppers on. You don’t have to support the branches then.

The info below counts for high growing pepper plants.

Sweet pepper plants grow in an overall Y shape with 2, 3, 4 or 5 branches. When there are (heavy) peppers growing, a branch can break off. So support is needed.

Usually the pepper plant is fixed to a bamboo stick with a plastic strip. Use a rubber band and clothes pegs to make this simple support;

  • Make a big loop at one end of the rubber band.
  • Find out what branches need support.
  • Put one clothes peg at the stick.
  • Put the big loop over the stick, just above the clothes peg.
  • Lead the rubber band taut around the first branch, around the stick, around the second branch, around the stick, around the third branch and so on.
  • Meanwhile keep the rubber band taut.
  • Fix the end of the band to the stick with the clothes peg.
  • Let the loose end of the rubber band hang down.
  • In this way a branch can bend down 1 or 2 inches but will not break.

Remark (lengthening the bamboo stick)

At a short bamboo stick next to the plant, you can’t fix elastic band this way. Then you better “lengthen” the stick next to the plant, as follows;

  • Saw a piece of bamboo stick (25 cm, 10 inch)
  • Saw a piece of electricity conduit (15 cm, 6 inch),
  • Drill a small hole (thorough) in the middle of the conduit tube,
  • Put a tie-wrap through the holes, fix it and cut the remaining part.

This bamboo stick has been extended for about 25 centimeters (10 inch) by putting a piece of conduit tube and a short (bamboo) stick on.

The bamboo stick next to this plant has been extended with a tube and a bamboo stick. At left, peppers and rubber band are still at the plant. At right, peppers have been picked and the band and clothes pin have been removed.

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16. Bean slicing tools

Make a frame of thin wooden laths to fasten a slicer.  There are 4 “longer” screws so the frame will not shift on the edge of a bucket. The laths can turn to fit to the edge of the bucket. Use planed wood laths. Width is about 1 x 0.5 inch or 0.75 x 1.5 inch. Screws and rings M5 or 3/16 inch.

An adapted ice box is used to have all slices fall into the bucket.

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15. “Plank bridge” for storage of onions

Needed for this bridge;

  • well fitting long wooden laths or planks (horizontal laths).
  • well fitting short wooden laths or planks (vertical laths),
  • wood screws.

The photos above show the construction of a bridge. Each lath has been fastened using one wood screw.

The size of the bridge should fit to the low cardboard box. The inner distance between the vertical sidewalls is about 1 inch wider than the size of the cardboard box.

The bridges can be piled up (stacked) in several ways.  They are useful for the storage of onions or bulbs.

You need little room when storing plank-bridges in this way.

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14. “Newspaper skirt” for storage of potatoes

  • Use many sheets of news paper.
  • Put 6 sheets “neatly” on top of each other (pile 1).
  • Put 6 other sheets “neatly” on top of each other (pile 2).
  • Put pile 1 neatly on pile 2.
  • Fasten the 2 piles at 1 side:
    • Use staples to fasten the piles. Staple about 1 inch from the sides.
    • Spread the staples across the width of the newspapers.
    • Open the 2 piles.
  • Make 3 more piles of news paper sheets (pile 3,4 and 5).
  • Use the above described procedure to fasten pile 3 to pile 2, pile 4 to pile 3 and pile 5 to pile 4.
  • Finally fasten pile 5 to pile 1.
  • The “newspaper skirt” is ready for use now.

Put the newspaper skirt around 2 shopping crates one on another.

Lift the newspaper skirt a few centimeters (1 to 2 inch), fold the top of the skirt and lay a newspaper on top. This forms a dark and airy storage.

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13. Tips for a water barrel

  • You can use plastic water barrels in your garden. Place them on a soft mat or other soft material to overcome damage by stones or sharp objects.
  • When (almost) empty, fill the barrels with water in the morning or by day.
  • In the evening you can water the plants with (sun warmed) water from the barrels.
  • You can easily fill watering cans by submerging in the barrel. That is faster than using a tap at the vessel.
  • Attention: always water cabbage plants with cold water.
  • When the tap is broken, remove it. Use a drill to round the hole in the barrel. Put a cork in this hole, the thickest part inside.

  • Store watering in the water barrels with the lid on top. This reduces wear of plastic material of the watering cans by sunlight.

Storage in winter

Before winter, empty the barrels. Put watering cans in the barrels. Put the lid in. Put each barrel upside down on the garden soil. On each barrel lay the soft mat and a paving stone (against toppling at strong winds).

At stormy weather

During winter storage, the empty barrels can topple at stormy weather. So you better:

  • lay the barrel aside on a mat,
  • with the bottom of the barrel towards the most common wind side ,
  • put a mat in each barrel (on the side of the barrel),
  • lay heavy (stepping) stones in the barrel on that mat.

My experience; no damage to the barrels and all things (watering cans, lids and so on) stay in the barrels.

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12. Making liquid nettle manure.

Making:

Pick nettles and put them in a (big) bucket. Add water until half full.

Put an empty flower pot on the nettles. And put some bricks in the pot. In this way, the nettles are submerged. Place the whole at a sunny or a shadowed place.

Sunny place: fermentation is faster. But also faster evaporation and more bad smell. Shadowed place: slower fermentation. Try out what works best; in the sun or in the shadow.

Sieving and storage:

After about 1 week, sieve the liquid through the holes in the bottom of the flower pot. The liquid flows in the small (green) bucket.

Take the flower pot from the small (green) bucket and empty the flower pot on a compost container, under other plant material (otherwise stench).

You end up with a big empty bucket and a small green bucket with liquid manure. Pour the liquid from the small (green) bucket into the big bucket.

Sieve the nettle manure through a plastic sieve into the small green bucket.

Now you have a small green bucket with double sieved liquid manure.

Put the small green bucket somewhere in your garden. Put the big empty bucket over the small green bucket with liquid (against stench, evaporation and thinning by rain).

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11. Fixing strips for guiding stake beans (see also nos 36 and 45 of this tip).

These strips 12 or 17 centimeters (4.6  or  6.8 inch) long can be used to fix and secure tendrils of stake beans (climbing beans).

Remark:

The method of no 45 (curling cord) is the best and the easiest. It is more useful than the method of no 36 and 11 of this tip.

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10. Fixing strips for sweet peppers or tomatoes.

The strips are good for fixing tomato plants or pepper plants to a stick.  You can bend the strip in an “8-shape“.

After a few years in 8-shape, the strips can break or burst.

You better fold the strips in an “O-shape”. Short strips of 11.5 centimeters (4.4 inch) are long enough to fix plants to a bamboo stick.

Tomato plant (left) or sweet pepper plant (right) fixed to a stick using a short strip of 11.5 centimeters (4.4 inch) in O-shape. You can put the “loose end of the strip” in the rectangular hole or in the V-shaped hole of the strip. Both methods work well.

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9. Cabbage collars and fixing iron wire

koolkraag 20

The roots of a cabbage plants can be attacked by the maggots of a Cabbage Fly. Then the cabbage plant stops growing, the leaves get light green and the plant (often) stands loose in the garden soil. See photos above.

After digging, one often finds maggots in or near the root ball.

You can prevent this attack by putting cabbage collars around the stem of the plant. Then the maggots of the Cabbage Fly can’t get into the garden soil (to eat the roots of the plant). Additional benefit; the soil underneath the collar does not dry out so fast.

koolkraag 18

koolkraag 19

My round collar fits in a watering pot (bottomless flower pot). The cabbage collar has an “incision” (from edge to center), to put it around the stem of the plant. And a star shaped hole in the middle to put the stem of the plant through.

Even better; put 2 collars on each other, with the incisions opposite to each other. When the stem of the plant is thicker, the incision gets open a little. When there are 2 collars on each other, the maggots cannot reach the root of the plant.

Making:

koolkraag 7

  • You can use pond foil. You can buy it at (some) garden shops. This piece, 2 x 1 meter costs about €7.00.

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  • Use the top edge of a flower pot to draw pencil circles on the foil.
  • Cut squares of foil around the circles.

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  • Cut round discs from the square pieces of foil.

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  • Fold 1 disk double and flatten the foil.

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  • Unfold the disk again.
  • Lay the disk on a piece of wood or cardboard.
  • Push a drawing pin in the disk at the crossing of the folding lines.
  • Remove the drawing pin again.
  • This disk with center hole is used below.

koolkraag 12

koolkraag 14

  • Make center holes in many disks;
    • Lay many disks (without center hole) “right on each other”.
    • Put the disk with center hole on top of the disks.
    • Make sure that all disks are “right on each other”.
    • Push a drawing pin (straight down) in the center hole of the top disk.
    • Push the drawing pin through all underlying disks.
    • Remove the pin from all disks.
  • Now each disk has a center hole.

koolkraag 15

Use normal scissors and small nail scissors to make the “incision” and the star shaped center hole in the disk. As follows:

koolkraag 16

  • Use normal scissors to make the incision just pass the center hole.

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(on this photo the disk has turned a little)

  • Use the small nail scissors to make the star shaped hole in the disk.

koolkraag 18

The cabbage collar is ready for use now.

koolkraag 19

Two cabbage collars on each other around the stem in a watering pot, with the incisions opposite to each other.

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A pile of used cabbage collars. First brush and wash the collars.

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Brushed and washed cabbage collars after a few weeks of “rest”. The star shaped openings and the incisions look well. Ready for a new use.

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8. Planting stick for leek, witloof or stakes

Make a planting stick (dibber) out of a wooden stem of a garden fork or spade.

Clamp the handle.

Saw at 4 sides. You end up with a 4 sided point.

Saw the 4 ribs of the wood. you get a point with 8 sides. Use a sharp knife to make a round point.

Put marks on the stick with a file or a saw.

Planting stick, ready for use. A rubber band indicates the depth.

Use:

  • To make slanting holes for bean stakes.
  • To make (narrow) holes for leeks or chicory roots.
  • This planting stick is longer than a normal dibber tool, so less tiring (bend less deeply).

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7. “Greenhouse” made of a margarine box and a transparent plastic mushroom box

To make a mini “greenhouse” you can put a (transparent empty) mushroom box or an empty box of dried fruit over a margarine box.

Low mushroom box

In some grocery shops you can buy mushrooms in transparent plastic boxes.

A transparent mushroom box fits over a 250 grams margarine box. Keep a few  millimeters (1/4 to 1/2  inch) free under the box to form an air opening. Sometimes the transparent box will “sink down” over the margarine box.

The mushroom box also fits on (over) a “lowered” 450 grams margarine box.

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High mushroom box

This higher box has a paper sticker pasted on the bottom.

The paper bottom sticker is hard to remove. Try it at a dry box (do not soak). Tear and use a knife.

champignonbakje 9

In another store, the same type of boxes are for sale, without bottom sticker. No tearing needed.

On this photo a low and a high mushroom box.

The other dimensions are equal. The high box fits on a margarine box too. And this lid fits well on the new box too.

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Another high mushroom box

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There is also a mushroom box with flat side walls. It has the same size.

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Box of dried fruit

fruitbakje 1

You can use this type of box. For sale in a big supermarket.

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preischuif 58

This transparent box fits well on a 250 grams margarine box. There are air openings at both short sides.

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And it fits on a lowered 500 grams margarine box. There are air openings at the dented sides of the margarine box.

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On the bottom of the box there is a paper sticker. After soaking in water, you can remove the sticker but a glue layer is left on the bottom. The glue layer is hard to to remove. So you better not soak in water.

You better remove the dry sticker as follows;

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Remove the sticker this way.

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Remove glue residues by putting on and tearing off adhesive tape very often.

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But now and then this procedure does not work so good.

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6. Lath with marks at fixed distances

Use a hacksaw to make small grooves in a thin wooden or plastic lath at equal distances. Put a piece of iron wire at both ends and bend it. Fix the lath to the garden soil; put the iron wires in the soil. Useful when sowing carrots, leek, onions

But a nylon cord with knots is much more useful (see no 64).

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5. String with marks at fixed distances

Attach small wires (equal distances in between) at a nylon string. Use it when planting in a row at fixed distances, e.g. potatoes.

Needed: nylon string, (green) garden wire, scissors, ruler.

Fasten a piece of (green) garden wire in a loop in the nylon string.

Turn the (green) garden wire. Pull taut the nylon string (tug). Cut off the free ends of garden wire.

Attach all (green) wires with equal distances in between. Make a loop at each end of the nylon string.

Use: Put one loop of the string over a stick in the garden soil. Fasten an elastic band at the other end. Put the elastic band over another stick in the soil.

Use a piece of cardboard to wind up the string. So it will not get entangled. Write info on the cardboard.

Remark: You also can use a nylon string with knots at fixed distances. That is much easier to make. See no 64 in this tip.

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4. Elastic band for sowing or planting in a straight line

When sowing or planting in a straight line, use two sticks and an elastic band between them. Tensed elastic band is always straight. To be sold in a sewing shop or on the market.

Use a piece of cardboard to wind up the elastic band. So it will not get entangled.

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3. Stepping board for loose soil

Use a stepping board on loose soil to stand on. The soil is tamped less.

Hammer or screw wooden planks together. Lay the board on the soil with nail heads or screw heads up (and points down).

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2. Board to make furrows (“furrow boards”)

Various furrow boards. V-shaped board and  a \__/ shaped board.

Saw from triplex (1/3 inch thick) some boards for easy furrow making. They are 9 inch broad. The V or \__/ is about 2 inch high.  There’s a small “V” at the top of each board to make straight furrows when using a string or rubber band.

Instead of furrow boards, you can use a plastic margarine boxe (or 2 nested boxes) to make a furrow. Works well too.

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1. “Greenhouse” made of 2 plastic margarine boxes

Fill an empty 250 grams margarine box with potting soil. Or put small flower pots in. Water the soil, sow the seeds and cover with soil. Put 2 rubber bands around the box. Place an empty 450 grams empty margarine box on top to form a small greenhouse. The rubber bands prevent the top box from sliding down (but without rubber bands, it works well too).

Regularly remove the top box to check if plants are visible. When plants are there, put the lower box with small plants before a window.

Remark 1 (mat)

You can lay a piece of rubber sink mat with holes on the moist soil and drop 1 seed in each mat hole. Remove the mat and cover the seeds.

Remark 2 (big box)

You can use 2 boxes of 450 grams to make a greenhouse.

  • Use scissors to cut the top edge at one 450 grams box.
  • Fill this box with sowing soil.
  • Press the soil against the long sides of the box; the box gets more “round” then and the top margarine box stays in place better.
  • Spray water on the sowing soil.

  • Lay seeds on the soil and cover them with soil.
  • In a 450 grams box more seeds can be sown (24 instead of 15).

Carefully put the other 450 grams box, upside down, on the lowered box.

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Wikihow

I’ve written an article about this tip at Wikihow. When you want to read it, click here.

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16 thoughts on “2) Simple “tools” and tips”

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