Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Father's Day Garden Sign Posts

My dad is an avid gardener. Every year for as long as I can remember, he's had a garden. When I was little I remember going out back to pick my mom some tomatoes for dinner. Or watching my dog, aptly named Tomato, run through the vegetable garden, smashing whatever was in his way. When I got older, we moved away from a house with a back yard to an apartment with very little yard. My dad soon discovered the community gardens in town. Every night after work in the summer he would drive across town to the garden to water his veggies. Many times I would meet him there, and once in awhile I would have already beat him to it.

Gardening is something my dad grew up with also. His father tended a garden in his backyard until the summer before he died. After all, our surname *is* "Farmer" :)

I wanted to make my dad something that would go in his garden for Father's Day this year. Something that would last, that he could use year after year. I decided on some garden sign posts that mark where (and what) his veggies are. Some nice, big, visible signs unlike the dinky ones you buy in the store. Because once your garden is full grown, those small signs become lost in the foliage.

We had some scrap wood sitting around from a closet that my husband tore down when we first moved in to this house. He used most of it to build shelves in the basement, but had some left over. I was eying up the two 2x8's for my project. They were wide, and sturdy.

Here's a list of my materials:

~Two 2x8's cut in to 10x8 rectangles (I got 12 signs out of this and I only need 9 for my project)
~20 inch Wooden Garden Stakes (we again used scrap wood to make them, but you can buy them at any garden store)
~#150 Sandpaper
~Acrylic Paint & Paint Brushes
~Outdoor Polyurethane (spray on or brush on)
~Hammer & Nails

1) Husband did the cutting for me on his saw, but you can also use a hand saw. And yes, any girl can do this on her own :) It was just easier to have him whip through them for me quick.2) I sanded each piece of wood on all four of the edges, and the one face that I was going to paint.

3) I painted the sign with one coat of blue acrylic paint. This particular color is Apple Barrel's Pool Blue. I think the blue will stand out nicely against all the green when the garden is full grown. I only used one coat because I liked the look of the wood grain through the paint.
4) I painted on name of the vegetable and a picture of it. This one is tomato, obviously. I will also need to do green beans, sweet corn, strawberries, cucumbers, squash, peppers, blackberries, and raspberries. Make one sign for each item in your (or your recipient's) garden. You can even go a little crazy and label all your fruit trees!

5) Once paint is completely dry, spray or brush on several coats of outdoor polyurethane. Let dry in between each coat, and then let dry before moving to next step.

6) Nail the wooden stakes to the back of the sign. Place a piece of cardboard under the sign first so you don't scratch the face of it. If you do scratch it, just add another coat of polyurethane to protect it.
Now your sign is finished! Give it away, or stick it in your garden and admire all summer.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


I've tried a few play-dough recipes before that didn't turn out well. Either too sticky, or too stiff. This recipe feels exactly like the store bought stuff. And since I used mostly generic ingredients, I'm guessing it's cheaper. I'll have to figure out the cost one day to see if it's always worth me just making my own.

~The Play-Dough Recipe~

4 cups all purpose Flour
2 tbsp Cream of Tartar
1 cup Salt
4 cups Water
2 tbsp Oil (canola, veggie, etc)
Food coloring

1. Mix dry ingredients in a saucepan. You could mix them in a separate bowl if that's how you usually do it, but it just unnecessarily dirties an extra dish.
2. Mix in water and oil and choice of food coloring.
3. Heat mixture on medium heat, stirring constantly.
4. Keep mixing until play-dough is no longer sticky, and resembles a real play-dough type texture. Around 10 minutes. It does get hard to stir after awhile, but keep at it!
5. When it looks like this, it's done.

6. Place on counter top, or I used a cookie sheet since I have *very* little counter space. Knead a few times, about 10 or so. It's warm so let it cool if you can't touch it yet. After I kneaded it, I spread it out on the cookie sheet to cool completely before letting the kids have at it.
This recipe yielded approx. 6 cups, or two of these 3 cup containers.

You can halve or quarter this recipe easily, to make more colors. I chose orange because it's Hunter's favorite.
And then it's time to create!

The Girl Creative

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Our Bamboo Forest

Behind the garage is a sort of raised garden thingy. We aren't really sure what it's for, and none of our neighbors have ever seen anything there but the bamboo forest that currently takes it over.

When we first moved in, this is what the "garden" looked like.

There was also quite a bit of trash thrown back there by the previous owners. Our neighbor told us they weren't sure what was growing back there, but the other owners had chopped it down several times while living here and it always grew back.

Well no wonder it kept growing back: it's bamboo!
Husband did a little research and found out bamboo is one of the fastest growing and multiplying plants there is. Another thing he found out is that bamboo can generate quite the revenue. I'm not so sure about that, though. I don't know the source because he was reading through several websites, but one said you can sell 1/4 acre of bamboo for about $90,000. I know that bamboo is an invaluable resource. It's considered "green" because it can grow in so many climates, and because of how fast it grows. "Renewable" is one of those words that I often hear when talking about bamboo. I'm just not so sure I believe the price per acre we saw quoted. I wish I had saved that website so I could site my source.

So, now you ask, "Why would you want to get rid of such a great resource as bamboo?" (And even if you don't ask that) I answer, "Because I want a vegetable garden and the 'raised garden' is the best place to put one". I don't think I'll get to have my veggie garden this year, though. We have to wait and watch to make sure no more bamboo grows. If it does, which is likely because I'm sure Husband didn't get *all* the roots out, we have to pluck it as soon as we see it. Also, we have a big fat woodchuck living back there who will clean my garden out in one fell swoop. Another reason we needed to chop down the forest: home to too many critters we didn't want around.

Here is what we started with last week on Friday. Lots of big, tall, green bamboo. I kept telling Louisa she could finally have that panda she's always wanted.

This is what it looked like after Husband chopped it all down.

And here's the garden now, more or less. Three days and two broken shovels later.Yes, there's Drew stacking wood. The wood was in the garage and taking up too much room. I couldn't park my truck in the garage as it was, so we moved the wood. As stated in a previous post, apparently we're going to need this wood come winter.