DIY Garden Projects
Learn how to improve and decorate your food, flower, and herb plots with these simple do it yourself garden projects.
Here are three do-it-yourself projects that’ll make it easier to sow seeds and label your plants, as well as add beauty to the garden. They’re crafted with items most people have on hand, and they’re so simple to make, you’ll want to make extras to share with friends and family.
Canning Jar Lid Plant Labels
For me, nothing says “bountiful harvest” like a shelf of jams, jellies, and pickles. Canning jars and rings can be used over and over again, as long as the rings aren’t rusty and the jars are free of chips. The lids, however, must be replaced after one use. I didn’t want to toss the lids, so I kept them in a bag, thinking I’d somehow repurpose them. Then, an idea struck me to use them to make plant labels.
Tools & Materials
• Cotton pads
• Nail polish remover or acetone
• Canning jar lids
• Paint or stain
• Wooden garden stakes
• Labels with plant names and/or photos (printed from a laser printer)
• Acrylic transfer medium
• E6000 glue or liquid nails
1. Using cotton pads and nail polish remover, remove the film and ink from the lids.
2. Paint or stain the wooden stakes as desired.
3. Cut the labels to match the inner area of the lids.
NOTE: A laser printer works best for transferring ink onto metal. If your labels have words, they’ll need to be printed in reverse, so they’ll show up correctly once they’re transferred onto the lids.
4. Apply an even coat of acrylic transfer medium onto the surface of a lid, and then place the cut-out label, print side down, on the lid. Gently press the paper onto the lid to ease out excess glue and air bubbles. Set aside to dry completely.
5. Repeat Step 4 for the remaining lids and labels.
6. Remove the paper by soaking the lids in water for a few minutes, and then gently rubbing the paper until it loosens from each lid. Go slowly, as rubbing too hard will remove some of the ink. You may have to let the lids dry, and then soak them again to get all the paper off. Once the paper is off, let the lids dry for 1 hour. Then, paint a layer of acrylic transfer medium over the surfaces again, and let them dry completely.
7. Using E6000 glue, attach the lid labels to the tops of the wooden stakes.
NOTE: E6000 glue needs time to cure. Allow about 1 hour to ensure the two items stick together, and at least 24 hours for a permanent bond. Extremely strong and waterproof, this glue is worth the wait.
Some seeds, such as carrot seeds, are too small to handle. You end up broadcast sowing, then have to thin them out aggressively after germination. Many seed catalogs sell pre-sewn strips of seeds embedded in thin paper that are correctly spaced for growing. It’s a great idea, but they’re expensive when you consider the amount of seed you get on the strip compared to the amount in a seed packet. The good news is that seed tape is simple to make. So, why not make your own?
Tools & Materials
• Ruler and marker
• Small bowl and spoon
• All-purpose flour
• Small paintbrush
• Packets of seeds
• Paper clips, optional
1. With a ruler and marker, measure out several 2- or 3-inch-wide sections on newspaper, and cut them into strips. Label the ends of the strips with the type of seed and planting depth information.
2. In a small bowl, use a spoon to mix together 1 tablespoon flour and 2 tablespoons water to make glue. The consistency should be similar to bottled glue or papier-mâché paste. Add more water or flour as needed to achieve the correct consistency.
3. Determine the spacing of the seeds, as instructed on the seed packet. Use the ruler and marker to mark the newspaper strips at the determined intervals. Using a paintbrush, put a little glue on each marker dot. The glue should be thin enough to see the interval dots. If you find it’s not enough glue later, you can add a bit more.
4. Add the seeds to the glue at the marked intervals. Allow everything to dry for 24 hours.
5. When the strips are completely dry, they’re ready to be used.
NOTE: If you want to save them for use at a later date, roll up the strips, secure them with a paperclip, and store them in a glass jar in a cool, dark, dry area.
Aluminum Plant Tags
I like crafting with aluminum cans because they’re inexpensive, easy to cut, and weatherproof. One of my favorite things to do with them is to make fun little plant tags to add to potted plants. They also work well as plant labels in the garden.
Tools & Materials
• Aluminum cans
• Heavy-duty scissors
• Protective gloves
• Templates in shapes of choice
• Self-healing mat
• Hammer and nail
• Metal stamp kit and tape, optional
• E6000 glue
• Landscape pins
1. To prepare an aluminum can for crafting, you’ll need to first remove the top and bottom of the can using heavy-duty scissors. Wear protective gloves to prevent cuts. Start by using the scissors to pierce a hole just under the ridge of the top of the can, and then cut around it until the top is removed. Next, cut down the side until you reach the base of the can, and cut off the end. Trim the edges of your aluminum rectangle, and then flatten it by rubbing the metal gently on the edge of a table, in the opposite direction of the curve.
2. Position the template on the sheet of aluminum, and trace around it with a pencil. Then, cut it out with scissors.
3. To create a design on your aluminum tag, place the cut-out on a self-healing mat, set on a flat surface. On the print side of the cut-out, stipple a design using a hammer and nail by gently tapping the nail to indent the aluminum. (You only want to indent it, not pierce it.)
4. If you want to add a word to your tag, tape the aluminum cut-out onto a hard surface, such as a scrap piece of wood, and use the metal stamp kit to create your word of choice. (To ensure even spacing, stamp from the middle outward.)
5. Using E6000 glue, attach the landscape pin to the back of the tag. Let glue set and cure for 24 hours.
Debbie Wolfe is a freelance writer, the co-author and photographer behind the blog The Prudent Garden, a mom and wife, and an obsessive crafter, home chef, and gardener. This article is excerpted with permission from her book Do-It-Yourself Garden Projects and Crafts (Skyhorse Publishing).
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