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:

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 closable 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 vessel

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:

74. Water-saving watering can.

When watering plants, you can aim the jet of water towards the plants. The plants get water while the surrounding garden soil remains dry. And there is less water usage.

When you want to reduce water consumption and/or the water spray is to wide, you can use a water-saving sprinkler head as shown at the right side on the photo above.

The holes in that sprinkler head are about 1.4 millimeter (7/128 inch). The holes are made at these positions;

  • 12 holes in a circle near the periphery, similar to the numbering (1 to 12) of a normal clock,
  • 1 hole in the centre,
  • 4 holes between the centre hole and the periphery holes, similar to 3,6,9 and 12 of a normal clock.

In the Netherlands this  sprinkler head costs a few Euros and can be ordered     here    .

You can try to make such a sprinkler yourself by drilling holes in a fitting cap. Maybe this Youtube video     can help.

The water-saving sprinkler head fits at a watering can.

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

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

Small seeds easily germinate on moist toilet paper. You can lay one layer of toilet paper in an empty margarine box. You can also fold a small gray plastic plate in a sheet of toilet paper and put the whole in the margarine box. When using the small gray plastic plate, seeds and roots are more visible.

Moist toilet paper easily tears. That is useful when picking a little plant that has its root growing in the paper. The paper tears and the whole plant (with root, stem and leaves) is taken out of the box. Sometimes a piece of moist toilet paper is hanging at the root.

Using a small grey plastic plate:

  • Use an empty margarine box (250 grams), a sheet of dry toilet paper and a small dark 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.

No plastic plate used:

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

Using a margarine box for a germination test:

  • Lay on the bottom of a margarine box:
    • a sheet of toilet paper with plastic plate folded in or……
    • a half sheet of toilet paper.
  • Spray or pour some cold tap 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 warm spot indoors.
  • Regularly check the germination process. Also check if the toilet paper is moist. When needed, spray some water on the paper.

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72. Flower pots with insect mesh netting.

At dry warm weather you can put flower pots with insect netting over small plants. The soil underneath these pots do not dry out so fast. The plants still get enough sun light. Under these pots plants can grow better than in the open air.

Flower pots with netting are also useful to put over fresh sown lettuce. You can see the tiny lettuce plants through the netting better than through the bottom of a normal flower pot. And the tiny lettuce plants under a pot with netting are less slender than under a normal flower pot.

The mesh netting pots are made of 2 “thin wall” bottomless plastic flower pots and a piece of plastic insect mesh netting.

Needed:

  • Two thin wall 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 small piece of insect mesh netting.
  • Size is about 12 centimeters (4  3/4  inch) square.

  • Cut the bottom (with a small part of the side) from one plastic flower pot. See left side pot on the photo above.
  • Cut the bottom with a bigger part of the side from the other flower pot. See right side pot.

  • Use another (red) plastic flower pot of about the same size. This (red) pot may be thick-wall and/or more rigid.
  • Put the highest flower pot over this (red) flower pot.

  • Lay the square piece of insect mesh netting on the whole.

  • Put the lowest bottomless flower pot on the mesh netting.

  • Push on the upper bottomless flower pot to get the mesh netting over the lower bottomless flower pot.
  • Remove the (red) rigid flower pot.
  • Now one flower pot with insect mesh netting is ready-made.

Remarks:

  • You can cut a piece of carboard, size 12 centimeters (4 3/4 inch) square.
  • And use this piece of cardboard when cutting the pieces of mesh netting.

  • The inner flower pot can have a deformed edge towards inside. The inner flower pot is actually too deep in the outer flower pot. That’s no problem, the whole can be used well in your garden.

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71. Snail fences

huisjesslakken

When there are many snails eating from your plants, you can lay plastic flower pot saucers upside down on your garden soil. Each morning turn around the saucers and check for snails. You can release the snails somewhere else or …..

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You better make sure that (big) snails can not visit your plants. By putting “snail fences” around the plants.

Below a description of how to make the fences.

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  • Use iron wire netting with square meshes of 12.7 mm (0.5 inch). The netting is about 1 meter high. Thickness of the iron wire is 0.65 mm (1/40 inch).

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  • Use scissors to 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.

gaas slakkenhekje 3

  • Cut narrow plastic strips. You can cut them from the bottom of a plastic margarine box. For each snail fench, you need 1 plastic strip.

  • Or you can use (the cut off pieces of) broad tiewraps. For each snail fench, you need 1 piece of tiewrap.

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gaas slakkenhekje 4

  • Bend the wire netting strip in a round, cylindrical form.
  • You can make a big or small cylinder by rolling up more or less wire netting.
  • Hold the wire netting strip in place and put a plastic strip (or piece of tie-wrap) through the meshes to fix the cylinder. This strip keeps the cylinder in its round shape.

The snail fences have sharp short small iron wires at the top side (and at the bottom side). Big snails can not pass these small iron wires at the top side. In this way the snails can not visit the plants.

You can start with a small snail fence around a small plant. Later on, when the plant is bigger, you can enlarge the fence; remove the strip, “roll up less wire netting”, put the strip through the meshes again.

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70. Placemat with sowing holes

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

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In this placemat there are small holes at fixed distances. The (smallest) pitch is about 6.2 cm (2  15/32 inch).

Below there is a description “how to make”.

placemat 1

  • Use a plastic placemat.

placemat 2

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

placemat 3

  • Draw lines on the placemat. Draw crosses on the lines at the positions of the holes.
  • At this placemat the smallest pitch between the holes is 6,2 cm (2  15/32 inch). The plants that grow at this distance can be replanted using the 6 cm replanting tube of tip 42.
  • More info about the distances between lines and crosses below;

placemat 5

  • The distance between the lines is 3,75 mm (1   15/32 inch).

placemat 4

  • Distance between 2 crosses on one line is 10 cm (3   15/16  inch).
  • In the middle between 2 crosses of 1 line, there is the cross at the adjacent line.

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  • Make the sowing holes at the crosses. Put a plastic cutting board under the place mat. Use a hollow punch and a hammer to make the holes. Diameter of the holes 9 or 10 mm (11/32 or 13/32 inch).
  • It is very hard (almost impossible) to drill the holes in the placemat. Using a hollow punch is the best way to make the holes. Price of a set of 9 hollow punches is about €10 in a DIY shop.

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  • When the placemat is not well positioned on the cutting board during making the hole, there is a risk of tears in the plastic.
  • A placemat with one or a few teared holes can still be used for sowing.

placemat 6

  • A placemat with 32 sowing holes.

placemat 9

It is good to make a small hole near each corner of the placemat, using a 3 mm hollow punch. Or make the hole with a hammer and a thick iron nail.

Before sowing, you can put the fixing pens of tip 37) in these small holes.

The pens are made of iron wire. Wire thickness is 2.5 millimter (1/10 inch). The length of the straight part is about 15 centimeters (6 inch). The rectangular “handle” is approx 2.5  x 3.5 centimeter (1 inch x 1.4 inch).

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placemat 11

When you cut 1 big placemat in half, you can make 2 small placemats with “different” sowing holes.

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You can cut small pieces of placemat that fit in a plastic margarine box. And make sowing holes in the placemat. Handy for sowing seeds in a small (plastic margarine) box with soil.

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69. Frame of wooden laths around a seedbed

zaairaam 1

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

Here is how to make this frame:

zaairaam 2

Needed:

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

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  • Saw the wooden laths to the right length. Two laths are about 2 to 4 centimeters (1 to 1.5  inch) longer than the length of the placemat. And two laths are about 2 to 4 centimeters (1 to 1.5 inch) longer than the width of the placemat.
  • Saw the ends of the laths angled (see photos above).
  • Drill 2 small holes at each end of a lath.

zaairaam 4

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

zaairaam 6

  • When you put only 1 tie-wrap at each of 2 opposing corners (and 2 tie-wraps in 2 other corners), you can fold the frame. See photo above; there is 1 tie-wrap at each far end of the folded frame. The folded frame takes little space.

zaairaam 7

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

Remark:

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 garden soil after sowing and strewing moist garden earth on the seeds. You can lay a wooden board or something like that on the edging. The soil does not dry out, the seeds are not flushed away at heavy showers and the plants are visible sooner. When plants are there, remove the board.

You can keep the lawn edging in the soil until the harvest. The edging is useful at watering.

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68. Shove tray made of margarine boxes.

.schuifkuipje 18You can shove a block of sowing soil (with small plants) from an adapted margarine box into the garden soil. Below a description of making this shove tray. 

schuifkuipje 1

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

schuifkuipje 2

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.

To lift the shove tray with small plants: 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.

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Needed:

  • 2 plastic margarine boxes, each 500 grams,
  • a  square or rectangular piece of plastic, for example a cd-box,
  • scissors and pencil.

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At 1 box, one short side wall must be removed. You can draw a line on the box where to cut. 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.

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

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  • Hold the cd box (or square or rectangular piece of plastic) 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.

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  • Put a margarine box of 250 grams against the 500 grams box.
  • Draw a pencil line on the 500 grams box at the upper side of the 250 grams box.

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  • Cut the upper part of the 500 grams margarine box;
    • When you cut along the horizontal pencil line, you end up with a “low” tray of 4.5 centimeters,  ( 1  3/4 inch) high.
    • When you cut right under the |_  edge of the box you get a “high” tray of 5.5 centimeters, (2  1/6) inch.
    • See Remark (higher trays), a few screens down.

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  • Cut the 500 grams box along the vertical pencil lines.

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

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  • Cut and remove the side of the box. Cut about 1 or 2 millimeter next to the “corner”. The shove tray does not have a raised edge near the bottom then.

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The shove tray does not have a raised edge near the bottom as shown on this photo. That is better when shoving the block of sowing soil. (The cut off side has a raised edge).

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  • Use another 500 grams box.
  • Put a margarine box of 250 grams against the 500 grams box.
  • Draw a pencil line on the 500 grams box at the upper side of the 250 grams box.
  • Cut the upper part of the 500 grams margarine box;
    • When you cut along the horizontal pencil line, you end up with a “low” tray of 4.5 centimeters,  ( 1  3/4 inch) high.
    • When you cut right under the |_  edge of the box you get a “high” tray of 5.5 centimeters, (2  1/6) inch.
    • See Remark (higher trays), a few screens down.

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  • Draw a half circle at one long edge near the corner. You can use a coin when drawing.
  • Repeat at the other side of the box.

schuifkuipje 17

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

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

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Remark (higher trays):

The shove trays desribed above have the heighth of a 250 grams margarine box (about 4.5 centimeters,   1  3/4 inch).

schuifkuipje 19

You can make a higher shove tray and a higher tray with bites. Cut each 500 grams margarine box near the top to remove the |_  edge.

Now there is no need for drawing a horizontal pencil line. Just cut high along the  |_  edge.

Each tray is about 1 cm (0.4 inch) higher than the tray described far above; height is 5.5 centimeters, 2  1/6 inch . On the photo above you see 2 trays and 1 margarine box. All 500 grams.

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On this photo 2 combinations filled with sowing soil. A low one and a high one. Both combinations “work well”.

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Here, 2 big (500 grams) margarine boxes upside down on the shove trays. Both margarine boxes fit well.

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A low and a high tray combination, each with small summer carrot plants.

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67. Small white plastic cap with seeds

dopje

You can use such a cap to put (vegetable) seeds in during sowing (arrow).

 zaaidopje 1

For example leek seeds when sowing on moist toilet paper.

  • Lay the cap with seeds at the opposing corner.
  • Lay many leek seeds on the moist paper.
  • Then you can release the cap from the moist paper (carefully shove and hold slanting).

zaaidopje 2

  • Dry the bottom side (outer side) of the cap.
  • Then carefully put the cap on the “lying seeds”. The dry cap will not stick to the dry sides of the seeds.
  • Lay the next seeds on the moist paper.
  • After sowing, carefully lift the cap from the seeds.

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66. Sieving dry cow manure

You can break dry (cow) manure into small pieces. The manure has been on a heap on the garden soil (and under plastic foil) for several months.

mest 5

Use a big piece of dry manure.

mest 6

Put (thin rubber) gloves over your hands. Use your hands to break the dry manure into small pieces. On the photo you see small manure pieces.

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Close up photo of the manure pieces.

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

 

mest 10

This photo shows a tea spoon with small manure pieces. You can see the small straw blades in the manure.

Store the sieved manure in a small bucket. This manure is easy mixable with garden soil or compost.

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

mest 1 mest 2 mest 3 mest 4

When using a plastic sieve, a flower pot dish and 2 rubber bands, you can make a tool to dissolve (cow) manure in water. In this way you can make “liquid manure”.

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64. Nylon string with knots at fixed distances

knopen

groep 1 groep 2

A good tool for sowing at fixed distances is a nylon string with knots. Thickness of the string is 2 mm (0.08 inch). At this cord, there is a knot every 10 cm (4 inch). At both ends of the string there is a loop.

knooptouwtje 1

knooptouwtje 2

One loop of the string is put over a (bamboo) stick in the garden soil. A rubber band is put  at the other side of the string. This rubber band is put over another stick to tighten the string. Now you can sow in a straight line at fixed distances.

Making

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

  • The nylon string is about 2 millimeter (1/12 inch) thick. Price in The Netherlands is about € 0,10 per meter. Each knot makes the string about 0.5 inch (1.2 centimeters) shorter. Take this in account when knotting.
  • When making a string of 15 ft (4.5 meter) with a knot each 4 inch (10 centimeters), you start with a string of 17 ft (5.2 meter). With 2 loops, the starting length is about 19 ft (5.8 meter).
  • Make the first knot in the middle of the string. Then make knots towards one end of the string. Next step is to make knots from the middle to the other end of the string. In this way the maximal length you have to handle during knotting is half the original length.
  • Making a string with knots closer to each other (for example each 5 centimeters, 2 inch) is hard to do. When sowing at 2 inch (5 centimeter) distance you can use the string with 4 inch (10 centimeter) marks. Sow alternating near each knot and half way between 2 knots.

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63. Flower pot dish with a closable water drain

schotel 16

When you have flower pots with dishes, it can happen that there is too much water in the dishes. The soil mixture in the flower pots can get too moist and plants in the pots can start rotting.

To drain the water you have to lift the pots, remove the dishes and empty the dishes.  At dry weather, you have to put the dishes under the pots again.

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A drainable flower pot dish is a good solution to this problem. But you can’t buy drainable dishes in a shop or on the internet. You can make them yourself.

Below a description.

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

 Needed:

schotel 1

 

schotel 2

  • A flower pot dish
  • Plastic hose of about 12 mm (0.5 inch) outer diameter. This hose is sold in a pet store. It costs about €1.25 per meter.
  • Drilling machine, drill bits and a pricker.

Making:

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  • Put the dish aside on a wooden block.
  • Use the pricker to make a small hole.
  • Use small, medium and bigger drill bits to make this hole bigger. End up with a round hole of about 10 mm (2/5 inch) diameter.

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  • Cut the plastic hose into pieces of 7.5 cm (3 inch) long.
  • Fold one end of the tube “double” and put this side into the hole.
  • Use a pencil or wooden stick to “unfold” (open) the end of the hose.
  • About 5 mm (1/5 inch) of the hose is at the inner side of the dish.
  • When desired, you can remove plastic flakes near the hole.

Usage:

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Closing:

  • Outside the dish, bend the hose upward.
  • Make a curve in the hose.
  • Curve the hose and put the open end behind the edge of the dish.

Opening:

  • Curve the hose and pull the open end away from the edge of the dish.
  • Straighten the hose or bend down until the hose is horizontal. When needed squeeze the hoze to open.
  • Or put a nail or a small stick (from outside) in the hose to open it. Then remove this object from the hose.

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62. Weighing (vegetables) using a luggage scale

weeg 1 weeg 2

A luggage scale with digital reading is a good tool to weigh vegetables or similar products. The scale on the photos above has a hook and a band loop. Put the band loop through the “handles” of a bag filled with vegetables. Lift the scale and read the weight.

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

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

You can buy cow manure as pellets or powder. When you have pellets you can easily pulverize them into powder.

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Manure pellets in a margarine box.

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Needed:

  • 2 pieces of bricks or paving stones.
  • Piece of cardboard.

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Procedure:

  • Lay down the bigger paving stone or brick on the ground (or floor).
  • Put the piece of cardboard on the stone or brick.
  • Strew some manure pellets on the cardboard.
  • Put the smaller paving stone or brick on the pellets.
  • Use your hand to turn the top brick clockwise and counterclockwise on the pellets.
  • Press on the top brick during turning.
  • Remove the top brick after a few turns.
  • Check if the manure has turned into fine powder.
  • If not, repeat the pulverizing steps.

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preivroeg 40

This photo shows “manure powder” after pulverizing and one original manure pellet at the right side of the photo.

When the manure is fine enough, shove it from the cardboard into a tray.

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60. Little volume spoon for small (vegetable) seeds

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klein maatschepje 1

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

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With this volume spoon you can scoop 70 to 80 carrot seeds from a bag. The tool can be useful when you want to “pick” a limited number of seeds and put them in shift fall tray or something like that.

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

First a description of making a volume spoon with this type of ballpoint. At Remarks, two other types of ballpoints are described.

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At the back side of this ballpoint there is a small air hole in the transparent plastic (at this photo the ballpoint is laying on the black cap of my photo camera).

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Take the marker out of the pen. Use a small hacksaw to saw about 0.4 inch (1 cm) from the backside of the transparent plastic.

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When the hole in the plastic is too small, and the screw does not fit, use a 2 millimeter drill to enlarge this hole.

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

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Use sand paper to remove plastic flakes and to make a smooth saw cut.

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  • Put the parts together as shown on the photos above. Use 2 nuts on each other. This prevents the spoon from “falling apart”.
  • Put the spoon in a seed bag and fill it with seeds. Shake the spoon softly to drop the excess of seeds (that are above the top edge of the spoon). Shake the seeds in a (white) tray and count the seeds.
  • When the spoon is too big, lay it on its side and saw a millimeter or so from the “ballpoint tube”. Then polish the plastic and remove plastic flakes.
  • The spoon on the photo is 6 millimeter (1/4 inch) high. Inner diameter is 5 millimeter (1/5 inch). About 80 summer carrot seeds or 35 leek seeds fit in the spoon.

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Remarks:

  • You can easily make a “small tube” from the cap that is on an interdental brush. For example     these brushes    , for sale on the internet or in a drugstore.

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

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  • When you have a different type of ball point, you can still make a small tube. Fix the tube on a spoon handle. Saw the small tube to the desired length. Below 2 examples;

klein maatschepje 13.

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

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When you want to build a tunnel of foil you can use plastic electricity conduit tubes. When the tubes are too short you can put 2 tubes together to get the desired length.

There are 2 sizes; 5/8 inch (thin) or 3/4 inch (thick). A thin tube fits well in a thick one.

On the photo above you see 2 thin tubes in a short piece of thick tube. Drill 2 small holes through both tubes. Put a tie wrap through each hole in both tubes. Close the tie wrap at the inner side of the bow of the tunnel. This prevents plastic foil from damaging by tie wraps. Cut the free part of the tie-wraps.

You can put 2 thin tubes in a short thick tube. Or put 2 thick tubes over a short thin tube.

When desired you can put some tape over the edges of the tubes and/or over the tie wraps.

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58. Water tubes as a sowing tool.

From plastic water tubes and rubber bands one can make a tool to drop seeds on the desired places on a seedbed.

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This sowing tool is used as follows; keep the wide openings up and the small holes down. Put the tool on the soil and drop one seed in each tube. In this way seeds are laying far apart on the soil and the plants will grow separately.

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To make this tool; Use 3 (or 4) plastic water tubes. Use a sharp knife to cut the bottom and a big part of the upper part of each tube. The tubes that are used for the tool are about 2 to 2.5 inch long.

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Put 2 rubber bands tight around the thick part of 3 (or 4) tubes.

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You can use fingers, tweezers or a “shift fall tray” to drop seeds into the tubes of this tool.

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Sowing result of leek seeds on silica sand. Each seed on the photo is in a “circle” (the mark of the lower edge of a tube). Seeds are far apart. In garden soil seeds will grow into separate plants.

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57. Plastic flower pot for drying (latex) gloves

You can use (disposable latex) gloves when gardening. After some time inner side of the gloves is wet with sweat. After working you can take each glove from your hand (turning inside out and back again). And you can hang the gloves on a line to dry for later use.

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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 can dry. After about 30 minutes to 1 hour, gloves are dry and can be used again.

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To make these “tools”, use 2 flower pots. The edge of the pots is a little larger than the edge of the gloves. So glove will not drop when hanging.

Cut away the bottom of each pot. Then cut 2 V-shaped slots (“checkmarks”) in the side of each flower pot.

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When not used, you can stack the adapted flower pots so little storage room needed.

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

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When there is a group of plants in your garden, watering all plants takes a lot of time. It is much easier to water using a window box liner and hoses, as shown on the photo above. You can fix 8 to 10 hoses to one box liner of 1 meter (3 feet).

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This photo shows the left side part and the right side part of my greenhouse. Each part has its own watering system.

Needed:

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  • Plastic window box liner, length about 1 meter (3 ft),
  • Thin plastic hose (1/2 inch outer diameter),
  • Normal garden hose,
  • Iron wire about 2.5 mm (1/10 inch) thick.

When you are in a garden shop, a DIY shop or a pet shop, search for thin plastic hose of about 1/2 inch that fits tight in a normal garden hose.

When you use thinner plastic hose, you have to put a cable tie (tie-wrap) around the garden hose. More info further in this post.

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  • Drill holes of about 11 millimeters ( 7/16 inch)  in the side of the box liner, just above the bottom.
  • These holes must be some smaller than the outer diameter of the thin plastic hose.
  • During drilling, hold a wooden block against the inner side.

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All holes drilled.

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Cut a piece from the thin plastic hose. Length 2 inch.

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“Fold up” one end of the thin hose. Then put it (from the outside) into a hole in the box liner. About 1 cm (3/8 inch) is inside the box liner.

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Use a short thin wooden stick, put it (from the outside) into the thin hose and open the “folded up end” in the box liner.

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Cut a piece of garden hose with the right length. Put one end of the garden hose over the thin plastic hose. When needed, “fold up” one end of the thin hose and put the garden hose over it. Then use a short thin wooden stick. Put it (at the inner side) in the thin hose to open the folded end.

When you have a thinner hose, acts as follows;

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Put a cable tie (tie-wrap) around the garden hose.  Put the garden hose over the thin hose at the outside of the box liner. The tie-wrap makes the garden hose fit tight over the thin hose. If not, pull the tie-wrap.

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Determine for each plant the length of the garden hose. Fix all pieces of garden hose (each one of correct length) to the box liner.

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Cut about 42 centimeters (1 ft 5 inch) iron wire.

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To make a “support ring”, bend a loop in the iron wire. The garden hose fits in the loop. Make 1 or 2 support rings per garden hose.

Put the window box liner on tiles or bricks.

Lead all pieces of garden hose to (the pouring edge of) each plant. Put each hose through 1 or 2 support rings. Put the 2 iron wires of each support ring partially into the garden soil. The garden hoses must be horizontal or slight sloping.

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Lid over the box liner

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Put a flat piece of plastic (2 pieces of plexiglass) on the box liner. Put bricks or stones on to have the plexiglass pieces pushed flat on the liner. With this lid on, nothing falls in the liner and snails can not enter the hoses from that side.

When pouring water in, remove the bricks or stones. Than remove or shift the flat plastic (one piece of plexiglass). After pouring in water, put the plexiglass lid and bricks (stones) on the liner box again.

To prevent the box liner from “bulging” (so the plastic plate can fall in), you can fix a nylon cord around the box liner near the middle.

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Snails in the garden hose

At the outlet orifice of the garden hoses, small slugs can creep into the hose. And live there. During watering the plants, less water flows through that hose.  That’s not good.

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You can put a piece of (nylon) insect screen over the hose near the outlet orifice. Fold it and fix it with elastic band. No slugs can enter the hose then.

Remark (clamping the hose):

  • Next to each pepper plant there is a (bamboo) stick. When this stick is “at the right side” next to the pepper plant, you can “clamp” the end of the garden hose between the stem of the plant and the stick. See photo above:
    • At the right side plant, the outlet of the hose is clamped between the bamboo stick and the plant. The hose can not slide sideward. This is okay.
    • At the left side plant, the hose can not be clamped between stick and stem. The outlet of this hose can slide sideward and get out of the “bottomless watering pot”. This results in watering the garden soil instead of the plant. Not okay.

gietslang-horgaas-10

The “folded bag of insect screen mesh” is about 7 centimeters (3 inch) long. One inch (2.5 centimeters) of garden hose is in the folded bag. When there is a slug in the hose, it is washed out of the hose into the bag. Water can pass then.

Thanks to this folded bag, the opening of the garden hose is not touching the garden soil. The hose will not get clogged by garden earth.

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Below a making description and photos.

Needed:

  • (nylon) insect screen mesh
  • rubber bands

Making:

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  • For each hose you need a piece of insect screen of about 14 x 10 cm (5 3/4  x 4 inch). You can cut a piece of cardboard of the same size. Lay the cardboard on the insect screen mesh and cut around the edges.

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  • For each hose you need 1 rubber band and 1 piece of insect screen.

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  • Roll the piece of screen around the end of the hose.

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

My experience: no more slugs in the hoses. Watering the plants is okay. And if a slug still enters the hose, you can put a long iron wire (from the window box liner) into the hose. And push the slug into the bag of insect screen mesh.

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Storage

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At the end of the summer you can take (pull) the pieces of garden hose from the short hoses. When used, cut the tie-wraps before removing the pieces of garden hose. Lay the 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

paprikasteun 11

Sweet pepper plants can grow in a black plastic circular mortar bucket of about 65 liters. In the bucket there is a compost layer of 4 to 6 inch thick. Bamboo sticks support the plants. These sticks can go slanted in the thin layer of compost.

Sticks remain upright when you put them through a plastic pipe clamp (strap, clip).

For each plant use one wooden lath with one pipe clip, as shown on the photo above. But you can also use less laths with 2 clamps per lath.

Determine how many laths needed, where to fix them at the edge of the barrel, what is the lath length and where to fix the pipe clamps at the laths. You can use laths of about 12 millimeters (1/2 inch) thick and 25 millimeters (1 inch) wide.

Making:

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Saw laths to the desired length and drill 1 hole at each end. Hole size approx. 5 mm (1/5 inch).

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

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

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

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Fix all laths on the edge of the bucket. Then put a (bamboo) stick from top to bottom through the pipe clamp and into the compost layer.

Fix the pepper plant to the (bamboo) stick using a fixing strip.

When there are big, heavy sweet peppers, you can support the branches using the info at nr 17 (“Simple support for “heavy” pepper branches”)  described in this post.

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

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

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

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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,
  • Put 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)

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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)

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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)

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Wim made these baskets to protect plants from birds.

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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.

afstand 3 A string with fixed marks has been tightened between 2 sticks.

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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. There is an extra iron pen in the wire tensioner. See Wim’s photos below.

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

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

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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 throug a plastic flower pot

zeef potgrond

Use a plastic flower pot when sieving soil, potting soil or compost. Sieve the soil through the holes in the bottom of a flower pot. Use a big flower pot when sieving much material.

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

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After sowing a thin layer of sand is strewed on the seeds. It’s usefil to do that with a small plastic flower pot. Size of the flower pot is about 3.5 inch (9 cm) at the upper edge. Holes in the bottom are about 0.2 to 0.4 inch.

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Put the empty flower pot on the soil or on a small plate. Put in some moist garden soil. Layer thickness in the flower pot about 0.5 to 1 inch. Take the flower pot in your hand and move it above the seeds.

Below some photos of strewing in a white tray.

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

First practice on a plate or a tray to learn how to strew uniform.

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

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Some electric tools have curling cords. When the tool is no longer in use, you can utilize pieces of curling cord to train tandrils or plant stems.

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Cut a piece of cord. Length about 3 “curls”.

Practising:

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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 the cord to release it.

Fixing:

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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.

Remarks:

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  • On the photos above you see pieces of single cord (above) and pieces of double cord (below) around a bamboo stick. Single cord has been made by splitting the double cord.
  • A “double tension cord” works better than a single one. Double cord is easier to fix and to remove. On the stick, it keeps better in shape. And it has a lower pressure on the plant stem and tendrils.
  • This method (nr 45) is the best and the easiest one. I’m proud of it. This method is more useful than the method of nr 36 and nr 11 of this tip.

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

To protect seeds from the bright sun you can put some boards on the furrow.

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But you can make a band of fabric with small laths. The one on the photo is 5 feet (1.5 m) long and 6 inch (15 cm) wide.

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Put the band on the furrow. 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”, the top part of a plastic flower pot.

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This watering pot fits around a small plant with a thin stem.

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When the plant is very big, you can make a watering pot that can be opened. It has been cut from the side of a big plastic flower pot. The “ends” of the edge have been made “quadrangular” as follows.  At each end fold up about 0.5 inch. Put the fold between 2 laths in a bench vice. After 1 hour, take it out of the vice and fold it to “quadrangular”.

During usage close the watering edge using a strong paper clamp. .

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On the photo above the watering edge has been placed around a plant and a paper clamp has been put on. Next step is pushing the edge about 1 inch into the soil. Then much water can be poured into the edge.

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42. Planting potatoes using a bulb planter

On out allotment garden, a collegue uses a bulb planter to put potatoes into the soil. On the internet there are some articles about it, like    here    and     this one.

The working method is very useful. It is better and easier than digging a hole using a garden scoop. And after dropping the potatoe, shoving the earth back into the hole.

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

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Put the bulb planter into the soil.

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  • Take the bulb planter with garden earth out of the soil.
  • Strew some garden soil into the hole when the hole is too deep or when fresh manure is visible in the hole. The potatoe better not “touches fresh manure”.
  • Put the potatoe in the hole with most eyes up.

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

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

You can sprout (chit) potatoes on a cool light place. On internet sites you can read how to use a cardboard egg box. For example       here   .

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The potatoes on this photo have been sprouting fo 3 weeks. You can write info on the egg box.

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Or you can lay potatoes on a thin layer of compost in a plastic box. When you put some plastic foil around the box, you can form an air opening so the compost does not dry so fast. Or put the lid “shifted” on the box to make an air opening. Spray the compost and potatoes regularly.

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After 3 weeks at about 15 to 20 C (59 to 68 F), there are sprouts up to 1 inch long.

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There are big sprouts at both potato varieties (F and G). On these photos the plastic box has turned to show the height of the sprouts per type.

piepers 6After 3 weeks on the compost the potatoes have grown roots. Left on the photo you see the potatoe with the biggest roots.  Right on the photo a potatoe that has been in a carbord egg box for 3 weeks.

When planted, potatoes with roots start growing some earlier than “air chitted” or “not chitted”.

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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).

When putting small plants before a window, they will grow against the window, towards the (sun) light. To have the plants growing straight up, put a piece of aluminium foil at the “room side” behind the plants.  Glue aluminium foil on a piece of cardboard and put the system behind 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 tekst. 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. The often grow skew and hang down. You can support the plants with these simple holds.

preisteun 6 Use thin iron wire with plastic coating. Bend the supports as shown on the photo above.

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Push each stems of a 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 tandrils of stake beans (see also nrs 36 and 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 throug 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.

At wooden stakes you can use a tacker stapler to make the loops. If you don’t want to staple or the stakes are made of metal or bamboo, you can make the loops in another way, (Sjef’s  method). See description below.

Needed:

  • 2 plastic clips, about 4 inch long. The clips can be bought at a building-materials shop. Price of 4 clips is about €3.00.
  • Thin plastic (nylon, polypropene) cord, about 20 inch long. Hold each end near the flame of a candle to melt a little bit of plastic. This is to overcome ravels at the ends of the cord. Tie a loop at one end of the cord.

Mounting:

Use one clip to fix one end of the string (the end with no loop) to the stake.

Take the free end of the cord and turn the cord around the stake to form a new “open loop”. Make this “loop” at about 6 inch above the plastic clip.

Make one or more “open loops” around the stake. There is about 6 inch distance between them. Finally put a clip through the tied loop at the end of the cord and fix the clip + cord to the stake.

When the tendrils are long enough, put them behind the lower loop or the lower loop but one. When needed, shift the top clip down one or two inches to make the loops on the stake more “open”. Or shift the top clip up a little to fix the tendrils behind the string.

Removal:

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

Remark:

From experience: the method of nr 45 is the best and the easiest. It is more useful than the method of nr 36 and nr 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 cheese boxes (for slices). Bigger sachets and seed boxes fit in cheese boxes (for pieces).  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.

slangklem

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. 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.

Then fold the slap.

Put small pots with plants on it. After watering, water flows on the board but will not flow from the board thanks to the 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 size is about 8 x 12 x 16 inch (0.2 x 0.3 x 0.4 m) without lid. When full, transport the container to the compost heap or container. It is easy to transport.

At another container of the same type and size, saw the bottom plus 1 inch side. Drill 4 holes of 0.25 inch in this “bottom part”. This (dark blue) bottom fits well in the white container. The blue bottom is laying on 4 vertical strips in the white container. This type of container is manifactured with the strips in it. Underneath the blue bottom there is a room of approx 3 inch high. Thanks to the 4 drain holes the material in the container stays dry and will not rot.

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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 some inches deep with a scoop, (about 4 inches wide).  When needed mix nutritious matters (compost, manure, garden lime) through the earth.
  2. At plants with deep roots such as carrots and chicory, loose the soil about 6 to 10 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 the 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. This is necessary because after sowing you don’t water for some days or weeks. A furrow is lower than the surrounding soil and the earth in the furrow does not dry so fast.
  • At 4: The soil keeps “open and airy” during carefully watering.
  • At 5: The seeds can absorb water.
  • At 6: The seeds are covered with an “airy” layer of soil, so air can pass through the layer and reach the seeds. The strewn soil is moist so seeds do not dry so fast.
  • At 7: When you water after strewing soil, the earth above the seeds can get compact. The air can not pass so easy anymore.
  • At 8: Faster germination at higher temperature.

Water the soil in the furrow after many days or weeks of dry weather. Then use a watering can with 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.

Start with a gray box. Use small wooden blocks for support during sawing. Carefully saw out the desired parts of the box. Adjust the size to fit in a margarine box.

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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.

dop 1

Or use a small white cap to put the seeds in during sowing. For example the white plastic cap of a drink box (see black arrow).

Small seeds (cabbage, leek, lettuce, carrot etc) are easy to pick up with the moist tip of a cocktail stick, as you can read in some tips. The seed sticks to the cocktail stick.   When a seed touches moist earth (or moist paper) it will ”leave” the cocktail stick and will adhere to the earth (or paper).  This procedure only works well at moist earth, paper etc.

This way of sowing is (often) 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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Below the old description.

Crop rotation

It is better to grow your vegetables each season at another place in the garden than at the former (4) seasons.  This prevents soil from impoverishment of certain nutrients and it can overcome 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.

On the picture above you see my 8 year crop rotation plan. There are 4 areas; potatoes, beans, root crops, leaf crops. Choose to “turn clockwise or counter clockwise”The circle in the middle  is the year number.  Year 1 is 2912.  After 4 years swop the upper and lower part of each area.

ea = early,  lt = late.  Blue text is a second vegetable growing in the same year.

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Garden plan

You can make a garden plan in Excel:

Description

Per area there are:

  • A plan with paving stones. Excel column B to P.  You can draw the positions of the vegetable plants with circles and squares .

  • For each vegetable, the date of sowing, before window, in garden, harvest etc.  Excel column R to Z.   In column Z, Excel calculates the time (months-days) between sowing and harvest.  The light yellow coloured example is a “fancy” value.

  • For each line all info is in column AA. Use short texts.

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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;

Get a plastic transparant bucket, for example one that birds feeding balls are sold in.  Use a hacksaw to saw wedgeshaped holes in the lower edge of the bucket. Sawing is easier than drilling holes in the bottom and the side.  And 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 transparant flower pot to form a double greenhouse.

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22. Simple “dark space” for chicory

Chicory plants grow in the garden. The plants are taken out in mid or late autumn (September – November).  Then foliage is cut, about 1.5 inch above the top of the root.  The roots are put into flower pots or containers filled with moist earth or moist compost. During some weeks a chicory head will grow on each root.  The plants grow in the dark to form white to light yellow coloured chicory heads (in daylight they would be green).

Dark space (1)

You can put a cardboard box upside down over chicory plants to make a dark house.  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.

Dark space (2)

You can make a dark house out of cardbox sheets, clothespins and paper clips. Roll the cardboard sheets “round”. Connect the sheets (overlapping) using paper clips to form one big cylinder.

witlofdonker12

witlof 47

Use clothespins to make air openings in the cylinder (at the sides near the overlaps)

A piece of cardboard or a cardboard lid on the top of the cylinder acts as a lid. The cylinder is about 20 inch high.  It fits large around the flower pot.

Sheets of cardboard are to be had of any stationer’s shop.  Sheets of about 20 x 27 inch cost €1.00.  You can also cut such sheets out of cardboard boxes.  The cardboard needs not to be black.

More info at tip 24) Growing chicory.

This system with cardboard cylinder and clothespins is simple and shows good results,

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

In September (early fall) you can buy a bag with “mixed corn” in the garden shop, 5 kilogram for €6.00.  It is normally used as chicken-food but you can use it as a green manure.  The mixture contains seeds of wheat, barley and oats.  Sow in October (mid autumn) at the empty areas in yourgarden.  It germinates before winter, grows to about 4 inch length and is digged in as manure in spring.

Reason for this tip:  It is not easy to buy about 5 kilos of (rye) seeds for a low price.  Mixed corn is good for this purpose.

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20. Feeding birds in a butterfly-bush

Not a real gardening tip but still…..

From a plastic laundry-basket you can cut away the side about 1.5 inch above the bottom. (you can also use a plastic washing-up tank). Two sticks are put through the edge. Make some hooks from thick iron wire and attach them to the sticks.

Put the whole in a butterfly-bush, with hooks down.  Fix it by fastening a cord from one stick to the next stick etctera, all around the plant. The sticks lay on the V-shaped branches or are tied to the branches, see photo above.

Below you see photos in November, December and January (late autumn until mid winter).

The cord is also used to “push together” the branches of the plant. The branches are close together so only small birds (sparrows, tits, red breasts ) can pass them. At the hooks you can hang little nets with peanuts etc. And fix an empty margarine box with binding wire and fill it with birds feed. Thanks to the lid, the feed remains dry.

In April, early spring, the whole is removed and the butterfly-bush is pruned

Big plant

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

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Fill a big flower pot or mortar bucket with garden earth. Put the long branches in the earth near the edge of the bucket. Put a piece of rope around the branches and mount the “birds roof”.

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Two sparrows and one blue tit near the birds feeding spot. Klick on the photo for wide screen.

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19. Tools in a compost vessel

One can use a plastic compost vessel for storage of garden tools.

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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

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

Usually there is a stick in the soil next to the pepper plant. The plant is fixed to this stick with a plastic strip (see simple tool 10).

A simple support against breaking off is made of rubber band (1/4 inch wide) and 1 or 2 clothes pegs.

  • Take a piece of rubber band of approx. 2.5 feet.  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 and let it rest on the clothes peg.
  • Lead the rubber band “taut” around the first branch, around the stick, around the second branch, around the stick etcetera.
  • Take the clothes peg from the stick (or use another peg),  meanwhile keep the rubber band taut.
  • Fix the end of the band to the stick with the peg.
  • Let the loose end of the rubber band hang down.
  • If there are less branches, turn the band 1 x around the stick between the branches to fix it better.
  • During “lacing” the rubber band, feel how taut the band has to be.

In this way the branches can bend down 1 or 2 inches but will not break.

Remark (lengthening the bamboo stick)

It can happen that the plant grows higher than the bamboo stick next to the plant. Then you can replace the bamboo stick by a longer one.

It is easier when you lengthen the stick next to the plant.

paprikasteun 14

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

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These photos show that the stick is extended for about 25 centimeters (10 inch) using the piece of tube and a short (bamboo) stick.

paprikasteun 16

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

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16. Bean slicing tools

When slicing beans you can fasten the slicer on a system of 3 short laths. There are 4 screws that extend about 0.5 ” (10 to 15 mm) and that fix the system to the bucket. The laths can turn to fit to the edge of the bucket. Use planed wood laths. Width is approx 1 x 0.5 inch for 2 laths and 0.75 x 1.5 inch for the middle lath. Screw is 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

To make this “bridge” you need some boards and screws.  The size of the bridge should fit to a low cardboard box.  The size of the box is 1 inch smaller than the inner distance between the vertical sidewalls.

As you see, the bridges can be piled up (stacked) in several ways.  They are useful for storage of onions or bulbs. See photo below.

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

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14. “Newspaper skirt” for storage of potatoes

Open or fold news papers to a size that you can make a skirt from. Each part must contain 4 to 6 sheets. Connect the news papers to each other with staples. Finally connect the last news paper to the first one to form a “newspaper skirt”.

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

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

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13. Tips for a water vessel

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

  • The watering cans can be stored 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 and put the lid in it.  Put each barrel upside down in the garden. On each barrel (on the bottom), lay the soft material that was underneath it during usage.  A paving stone on it prevents from toppling at strong winds. The openings just above the soil are filled with a small stone or something like that to keep mice out.

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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.

After sieving, take the flower pot from the small bucket. Put the nettle leaves and stems out of the flower pot on your compost container underneath some plant material. Pour the sieved liquid from the small bucket into the big bucket.

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

Put a big empty bucket over the bucket with liquid against evaporation, rain and smell. Place the buckets somewhere in your garden, for example between bean stakes.

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

Strips of Nortene (11.5 cm) can be used to fix and secure tendrils of stake beans (climbing beans).  You can also use the 17 cm strips.

Remark:

The method of nr 45 is the best and the easiest. It is more useful than the method of nr 36 and nr 11 of this tip.

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10. Fixing strips for sweet peppers or tomatoes.

The strips of 17 cm are good for fixing tomatoes or peppers to a stick.  On the lower photo you see a strip of 17 cm and one of 11 cm. The strip of 11 cm is too small.

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9. Cabbage collars and fixing iron wire

The black cabbage collars have been cut from the wall of a big black plastic flower pot. The other collars from isolation foil.

The collars are 4 x 2 inch.  The “V” is 3/4 inch wide and 1/2 inch deep.  At the black ones, the bottom of the “V” has been rounded by file.  In the black collars there are 2 holes, 1/8 inch wide  and 1  3/4 inch distance.

The pens are made of 1/8 inch iron wire.  Start with a piece of wire of 1.5 feet long.  Make a “curl” in the middle and bend both ends of the wire. The “legs” are ca 6 to 8 inch.

..

Simpler design (but not always working well). (see remark)

  • Use a big plastic black flower pot. Or use an other black plastic plate, for example the bottom plate of a cycle bag.
  • Cut 2 plastic plates. Size of each plate about 8 x 5 centimeters (3 1/4  x 2 inch).
  • Cut a V-shaped notch in each plate. The notch is about 1 centimeter (1/2 inch).
  • Drill a small hole in each plate. Size of the hole; a satay stick (skewer) fits well in the hole.

  • Two plates around a cabbage plant;
    • The plates overlap for about 1 centimeter (1/2 inch).
    • The stem of the plant is in the V-shaped notch.
    • In each plate there is a satay stick to fix it to the garden soil.
    • The plates are smaller than the watering pot (bottomless plastic flower pot).

Remark:

These cabbage collars can turn during the growth of the plant (photo above), resulting in unprotected soil next to the stem. Maggots of the cabbage fly can drop on the garden soil, crawl in the soil and attack the roots of the plant. The cabbage plant grows slow, stays much smaller than unattacked plants and can get loose in the soil (wiggling).

On this photo you see the root ball and the roots of an attacked cabbage plant. Two maggots were found in the root ball.

You better cut cabbage collars like these and put 4 satay skewers through the holes (the central satay skewer represents the cauliflower plant). These collars can not turn.

Instead of cabbage collars you can put “dried cow manure plates” on the soil around the stem of the plant.

Here   ,in the remark of 15th July 2018, one suggests to put a layer of grass clipping around the stem.

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8. Planting stick for leek, witloof or stakes

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

Fix an old handle of a spade or fork.

Saw at 4 sides.

Saw the 4 ribs of the wood. 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 the planting stick to make holes for bean stakes. Or for leeks or chicoree roots.

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

ch bak 4

In some shops you can buy mushrooms in transparent plastic boxes. You can use these as a cover on a small greenhouse.

Needed:

ch bak 1

One small plastic margarine box (250 grams), one transparent box, 2 elastic bands and sharp scissors.

Making:

ch bak 2

Use scissors to cut 2 small openings at each long side of the transparent box. They act as air holes.

Use:

ch bak 5

Put 2 elastic bands around the 250 grams margarine box. The bands are between both short sides of the margarine box. Then put the transparent box over it.

When there are small plants in the margarine box, push the transparent box over it as far as possible. The elastic bands keep the transparent box fixed, so it does not shift.

When plants or strips are bigger, as shown on the photo above, put the transparent box higher over (on) the margarine box.  Again the elastic bands keep the transparent box fixed, so it does not shift.

Remarks:

  • Take care that there is a big distance between the 2 elastic bands. Then the transparent box is better fixed and will not shift so easily.

paprika 10

  • You can use a normal (not cut) transparent box and push it carefully over a 250 grams margarine box. No rubber bands needed. Keep an open space (below) of about 1 cm (0.5 inch) to form an air opening. See photo above.

champignonbakje 1champignonbakje 2

  • You can put a mushroom box on (over) a “lowered” 500 grams margarine box.

  • You can put a mushroom box on top of a big (500 grams) plastic margarine box. The edge of the mushroom box is on the edge of the margarine box. At each long side there is an air opening. The boxes can shove easily. You can put a rubber band over the whole to prevent the shoving.

  • The super market sells its mushrooms in a higher box since 2018.
  • The paper bottom sticker is hard to remove.
  • Size of the new box is okay; it fits on the margarine boxes too.
  • And the old lid fits well on the new box.

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6. Lath with marks at fixed distances

Use a hacksaw to make small grooves in a wooden or plastic lath at equal distances.  Drill a small hole (1/8 inch, longitudinal direction) at each end of the lath.  Put an iron wire (1/8 inch) in the hole and bend it.  Use the lath when sowing at fixed short distances, e.g. carrots, leek, onions. Fix the lath by sticking the iron wires in the soil.

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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 garden wire in a loop in the nylon string.

Turn the green garden wire. Pull taut the nylon string (pull at both sides of the nylon string (tug) so the string gets straight again). Cut pieces of garden wire.

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

When using, put one loop of the string over a (bamboo) stick in the garden soil. At the other end of the string, fasten an elastic band at the string and put the elastic band over another stick in the soil.

eenv1

Use a piece of cardboard to wind up the string. Write info on the cardboard.

Remark: You can use a nylon string with knots at fixed distances. See nr 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 allways straight, a string between sticks will get loose when sticks are shifted.

eenv2

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

Make a stepping board from wooden planks and nails. Lay it on the soil as shown on the photo above. The nail heads are at the upper side of the board (to overcome injuries by nail points).

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

Various furrow boards.

V-shaped board and  a \__/ shaped board.

Saw from triplex 1/4 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 1 plastic margarine boxes (or 2 nested boxes) to make a furrow. Works well too.

 

1. “Greenhouse” made of 2 plastic margarine boxes

Fill an empty 250 grams margarine box with potting soil. Or fill small flower pots with potting soil and place them in such a margarine box. Sow and cover with a thin layer of soil. Water the soil.  Put 2 rubber bands around the box. Place an empty 500 grams empty margarine box on top.

This forms a small greenhouse with narrow air openings. In this system, little water will evaporate, but there is room for air circulation. Remove the top box as soon as the first plants are visible above the soil.

Remark 1 (mat)

tom zaai 1

You can lay a piece of rubber sink mat with holes on the moist potting soil. And drop 1 seed in each hole. Remove the mat after sowing. Cover the seeds with potting soil.

Remark 2 (big box)

margarinekasje 5

You can use 2 boxes of 500 grams to make a greenhouse.

  • Use scissors to lower the sides of one 500 grams box. Height after cutting is about 4 to 5 cm (1.8 to 2 inch).
  • Fill this box with sowing soil.
  • Press the soil against the long sides. The box gets more “round”, from  |  |  to  (  )  . The other 500 grams box that is put on later will not go down so easy.
  • Spray tap water on the sowing soil.

paprika 43

paprika 44

paprika 45

  • In this 500 grams box more seeds can be sown than in a 250 grams box (24 instead of 15 when using a mat).

paprika 46

Put the other 500 grams box, upside down, on the lowered box. Do it carefully, do not push hard downward during this action.

You can use these steps;

  • Put 1 long side of the upper box on the lower box.
  • Push against both short sides of the upper box. Then the long sides of this box get more round. The shape changes from  |  |  to (  ).
  • Now putting the top box on the lower box is easier.
  • Put the other long side of the top box on the lower box.

Or do as follows;

  • During placing the top box on the lower box, carefully pull both long sides of the top box from each other. The shape changes from   |  |  to (  ).

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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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15 Responses to 2) Simple “tools” and tips

  1. ken key says:

    Great tips but can you germinate Parsnips the same as Carrots.

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