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Jun 24, 2019

How to: Make an Inexpensive DIY Rain Barrel

One of the first big projects I completed when I bought my house was digging a large garden in the backyard, and we just barely made it in time for a summer full of tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, eggplant, peppers, and squash. The 20 x 30' patch somehow wasn't big enough for both eating and canning, so when spring rolled around again, I set out to expand our patch. Gardens are never finished, after all! (Check out our tutorial on how to hand-dig a garden here.) 

The only thing I wasn't interested in expanding, though, was my water bill. Since we get on average 4 inches of rain per month during the growing season here in North Carolina (Apr–Nov), it was time to let the clouds handle the water supply rather than the city. Since this is mostly a money-saving project, I kept my budget really low because I preferred to have the materials pay for themselves as quickly as possible.

Read on for how to make a rain barrel on a budget!

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May 15, 2019

A DIY Weed Killer That Actually Works

Spring seems to have arrived overnight, and with it comes the explosion of green as everything wakes up from its winter nap. First up? Time to fend off the weeds. . . and please don’t reach for that toxic stuff. It’s nasty for you, your yard, and everything around it. Instead, try this safer and super effective recipe.   

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Sep 04, 2018

How to Save Seeds and Grow Better Vegetables

how to save tomato seeds

When I start my garden every spring, I like to kickstart it by heading over to the local nursery and hardware store for some pregrown plants. Seeds can be tricky to deal with, and plants that are already several weeks old are especially helpful if you're busy, don't have a ton of experience, and want to get a jump on the growing season without having a greenhouse.

For the remainder of my garden, it's all about the seeds. I love that thrill of watching those little seedlings cling to the dirt in rain and sun, and I'm ecstatic to see true leaves when they emerge. If you've been doing seed packets for a while, and you're looking to up your garden game and perhaps move into the world of heirloom vegetables, read on for our primer on how to save tomato seeds, seed pods, summer vegetables, and more!

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Aug 22, 2018

How to: Set Up an Inexpensive DIY Garden Irrigation System

diy inexpensive irrigation system

What's not to love about a vegetable garden at the zenith of the growing season? More than a sum of its parts—a patch of dirt with some roots sending shoots out of it—a garden gives more than it takes. The average American spends 90% of his or her day indoors, and I use my garden to beat that statistic. I revel in its smells and textures and the satisfaction that comes from the results of tangible work. However, there are certain tasks I find needlessly tedious, and when I expanded my garden by about a hundred square feet this year, I began to count manually watering it with a hose as one of those tasks to eliminate with a timesaver.

But after I decided to set up my own DIY irrigation system, I quickly figured out that I didn't want to use soaker hoses (too expensive for the quantities I'd have to buy) or a rigid structure of PVC pipes (too permanent for the constantly changing setup in my current plot).

The solution was a pleasant surprise:

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Jun 27, 2018

If You Can Only Grow One Thing This Summer, Make it Tomatoes. Or...

So I have a friend named Dan. I met him through work. Dan is in his early 70's. For the past––I'm not EXACTLY sure on the time here––30+ years, Dan has grown tomato plants from seed beginning in the very early Spring. And when he hears that you have even a passing interest in the garden, he comes by with three plants––one of each of the varietals he grows––along with a laminated sheet of paper with information about each of the plants. Dan is the definition of good people. And I love my three little tomato plants.    

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May 22, 2018

Move Over, LaCroix: This is the Sparkling Water You Should Be Drinking All Summer

Topo Chico sparkling water bottle poured over iceSparkling water. It's a thing. Whether a weird normcore love of the dated 90s can design, or an earnest attempt to cut back on sugar and chemical-laden soft drinks, the cool kids have embraced LaCroix. And drink manufacturers, in an effort to capture the energy, are coming out with dozens of their own brightly-colored alternatives. I went to the grocery store yesterday, and spied no less than seven distinct brands of pink and orange-canned flavored waters, all of which basically look the same (and all which include a version of pamplemousse), attempting to capitalize on the trend.

I'm no hater. Live and let sip. If it keeps you hydrated and drinking less sugary soda, or even beer, then enjoy yourself. But, if you truly love the bubbles, then allow me to nominate my lifelong favorite sparkling beverage that never doesn't taste unbelievably delicious and refreshing, and, dare I say, defines effervescence?    

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May 21, 2018

Large Yard or Small, Here's a Lawnmower that Can Do The Job

Thanks to Cub Cadet for sponsoring this post. 

 

Gordy the Goat was going for the ride of his life. It was 1:00 a.m., and Gordy was in the back of a white Yukon Denali blowing through a stop sign at Earl Street and Mounds Boulevard in St. Paul, MN. Just minutes earlier, the brown-and-white splotched ruminant had been quietly at work in a nearby park, doing what he does best: grounds maintenance. 

See, Gordy, and a herd of thirty others, are charged with removing invasive species, unwanted grass and vegetation in the city parks... by eating it. But on this night, Gordy fell victim to goat theft, though whether he viewed it as

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Mar 21, 2018

How to: Dig a Garden Patch Using Only a Shovel

I've always been a big fan of eating good food. But I also can't leave well enough alone, so eating led me to cooking, and cooking led me to gardening.

Originally a means to an end, now there are few things that give me greater happiness than stepping out the back door in the middle of summer and walking across my backyard to the roughly 20' x 30' patch of dirt full of rows of tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, squash, and greens.

When I first bought my house and decided to transform the patch of grass into our home garden, I didn't own a rototiller, but I did have a $20 shovel, an internet connection, and a spare can of elbow grease. After compiling the ideas from several gardening sites and testing it out on my half-acre slice of North Carolina, I had myself a beautifully productive vegetable garden. 

Here's a brief primer on how you can hand-dig your own patch using the time-honored technique of "double digging."

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May 04, 2017

This is How You Should Tune Up Your Lawnmower for Spring

simple lawn mower maintenance for handy guys

Everyone knows the dreaded crankless yank of a neglected lawn-mower cord. You reach down for the handle, brace your legs, and pull the cord with all your might, only to be rewarded with a coughing, sputtering engine, or worse, one that won't crank at all. Add in a thrown-out lower back, and you could be forgiven for never wanting to go near a lawn mower again. 

But it doesn't have to be that way! You could join ranks of men and women whose mowers start on the first pull! People whose backs remain un-thrown-out, and whose lawns are oft-trimmed, instead of weeks-overdue. Here are some simple steps you should take every spring to maintain

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Sep 28, 2016

How to: Build Your Own Compost Barrel

I grew up in the shadow of some major recycling nuts so it actually took awhile for me to get my rebellious nature out of my system and come back to the recycling fold. I now recycle as meticulously as I can and composting organic waste is just one more great way to do that. Stored correctly, it can be a blessing -- stored poorly, not so much.   

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Apr 25, 2016

17 Landscaping Ideas For A Low-Maintenance Yard

Dads sure do seem to have a love/hate relationship with their yard work. If you find yourself falling further on the 'hate' end of the spectrum with how much effort you're having to put in, check out these 17 Ideas to save you time and keep you enjoying your yard instead of working for it.   

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Mar 31, 2015

Want to Learn How to Make this Awesome Vertical Garden Project? Join Us For a Free Workshop!

created at: 03/31/2015

There's nothing like being able to walk out your own door and grab a big handful of fresh vegetables and herbs and make a tasty meal. This vertical planter project allows you to grow a lot of produce in a small amount of space, so there's always a fresh batch of lettuce or mint ready to go when you need it.     

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Nov 11, 2014

DIY Project: Love Honey? Build Your Own Bee Hive

Bee Hive Assembled

My family loves honey. The natural sweetener is either on or in just about everything we eat, so it was just a matter of time before we started looking into "making" it ourselves. This basic bee hive is the perfect start to getting natural honey right from the source.   

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Aug 06, 2014

Campfire 101

Don't let the back-to-school sales fool you, there's still plenty of summer left. And campfire season lasts well into the autumn, and weather permitting, can make cool winter nights bearable, allowing you to hang out outside even when it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon.    

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Jun 30, 2014

How to: Make a Skateboard Swing

Skateboard decks are designed to support one's bodyweight yet be flexible to absorb changes. Meaning, they're kinda ideal for making other stuff to play on...like this swing project. 

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Aug 06, 2013

How to: Make a DIY Modern Concrete Fire Pit from Scratch

created at: 08/05/2013

There's no doubt about the cheer. Beside your fire you live in a private, glowing little world. All around you, fire shapes dance across rocks and bushes and tree trunks...Most of the time, you just sit and gaze at the caverns that form and crumble and then form again and gaze into the caverns that form and crumble and then form again between the incandescent logs. You build fantastic worlds among those pulsating walls and arches and colonnades. You sit, in other words, and dream. The East African has an almost limitless capacity for this masterly and delightful form of inactivity, and when his friends see him squatting there, lost, they

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Jun 04, 2013

How to: Build an Outdoor Bar Cart

This summer, move beyond cans and a cooler of ice, and create a sturdy, portable bar cart for your outdoor cocktail parties and grill-filled get-togethers. This option is made from cedar dimensional lumber, so it can not only stand up to the elements, but it's a great project for those without a table saw and a bunch of fancy woodworking tools.    

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Sep 22, 2011

The Inconstant Gardener: Misadventures in Landscaping

A part of me retches at the very word 'landscaping', as if the 1/4-acre parcel I inhabit on the vast surface of our billions-of-years-old planet somehow requires a few hours per weekend of my inexpert, indifferent care. Come on; any scaping we do to the land will be obliterated by the pitiless passing of time. We might as well lie under our beds 'scaping' dust into piles.

Still, that's a tough argument to make to your neighbors when they walk past your overgrown garden, over the shin-high weeds in the sidewalk cracks, and through the 'native habitat restoration' area you call your front lawn. They don't have to say much, but even at a distance you can see the raising of eyebrows.

Our unlanscaped landscape 

Not that I care that much what they think; horticultural conformism be damned. But seriously, this summer the front of our house was getting to a point that would make even the most hardened iconoclast a little embarassed. 

So, with a shrug of my shoulders and a roll of the eyes, we decided to finally do a little landscaping. It's been at least five years since we've done so much as weeding in the front, so things were a little, um, hairy. Read on to see how we improved it, and watch a video of the whole process...

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Jul 05, 2011

How To: Make Superhero Garden Gnomes

Even the humble garden gnome has the potential for a full-on, justice-inducing, evil-butt-kicking alter ego. 

Clever guy Kris came up with a fun and easy way to transform everyday Winklebottoms and Figgleforths into slug-stomping, possum-punishing superheroes!

He used  bit of Sculpey clay, autobody filler, and some clever painting techniques for a very funny, very creative result.

File under "why didn't I think of that?!"

Superhero Garden Gnome Mod

 

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May 09, 2011

How To: Make a Back Yard Drink Caddy for $2.00

At first, this may seem a little superfluous. But then, one of your buddies gets out the frisbee. And then the neighbor's dog comes to say hello, or someone stumbles in your direction, and your ice cold beverage is all over the ground. Honestly, I think of three times I could/would have used one of these in the last week, even though it's been raining like crazy.

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