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Friday Favorite: Vintage Garden Tools

April 11th, 2014

I’m a huge fan of old tools, they’re just so much better than newer ones. You can still buy good quality garden tools but they’re pricy. The ones you get at the local home improvement store are generally not that great. I buy garden tools when I see them in good condition at yard sale and antique store.
vintage tools 1
I’m amassing quite a collection. I have purchased a few new tools, when I need a specific tool and don’t haven’t found a good vintage one.  You can certainly spot the new tool in the group above!
vintage tools 2
potager walkway 2
One thing I love about vintage tools is the old wood handles. These handles are made of wonderful hardwood, they don’t bend and they rarely break and they do it while being beautiful and quite comfortable to use.  I also love that old garden tool handles are not the same width all the way down, this makes them super comfortable to use.  You can tell they were made for people who used their garden tools a lot!
vintage tools 3
Earlier this week I spent some time sanding down all the handles to my tools and giving them a protective coating of wax that I make up (recipe to come next week). Many gardeners do this in the fall, I prefer to do it in the spring. I know the hour or so this takes will protect these tools and make them last for another generation.
vintage tools 1 (1)
vintage tools 2 (1)
When the weather warms up I scrub them with steel wool and give the metal parts a protective coating of organic boiled linseed oil (the real stuff, no cheap stuff with petroleum additives).
vintage tools 4
The best part of vintage tools is the price. Generally, I spend between $3-$8 for each one. You certainly can’t beat that price. I also love knowing that these tools work on when they come to my home. They are doing what they were made to be doing and what the gardener before me did with them. I think perhaps they bring a little bit of the previous gardeners spirit to my garden as well!

Do you have any vintage garden tools?

Planting Onion Sets

April 10th, 2014

Last summer I harvested all my onions and set aside the super small ones to use as onion sets this year. I prefer growing onions from seed, but figured I’d rather plant these than spend the time trying to cut them up. I planted them shoulder to shoulder and plan on harvesting many of them as green onions. I will leave some to see if they bulb up or if they try to set seed. Some of these onions were from seed that I sowed very closely just to produce small onion sets.
planting onions
I love green onions and really like how set planted onions produce green onions really quickly. I have some in a planter in a sunny window that are almost big enough to start harvesting. Next year I hope to grow them all winter long so I can enjoy freely chopped onions with my breakfast regularly!

Do you like green onions?

Plant for Multiple Harvests

April 9th, 2014

This week my 5×5 Challenge Garden finally thawed out enough to plants a few things. It doesn’t take long for the soil to become workable after the snow melts. As soon as you can run a rake through the top of the soil you can plant a few things that like cool soil.
5x5 garden 1
There are a wide variety of things that can be planted in that space between the first thawing of the soil in spring and the warm summer months. You can’t plant tomatoes, corn, peppers or heat loving crops right now. Even broccoli and other cool loving crops risk early bolt if they experience too much cold this time of year. You don’t want to let your soil simply go fallow though, some quick crops are what you need so you can enjoy delicious food from your garden while you wait for summer to arrive. A few great options for quick crops: cilantro, lettuce, spinach, mustard, arugula and other greens. My garden was divided into four squares and I planted four different greens. These should germinate fairly quickly in this cool weather and be ready for harvest before the end of May when it’s time to plant tomatoes.
raised bed 2
Before I planted my lettuces I added a generous helping of compost on top of the soil. I don’t bother working it in as some people do, I find that the earthworms do a fine job of doing that for me. I don’t like to work the soil if I don’t have to. As you can see, the soil level had settled a bit and my raised bed was only about half full. After adding 2-3 inches of compost it’s getting better. Before I plant my warm season crops I’ll add another layer of compost and hopefully it will be nearly full by then.
5x5 garden 2
You can be I’ll be keeping an eagle eye on this garden watching for any signs of life. I can’t wait to see how it grows this coming season.

What’s your favorite cool season vegetable?

Spring in His Step

April 8th, 2014

Someone is very happy that spring has finally arrived. Dexter has been scampering around the garden having a good time. He goes out in the winter, but doesn’t stay out nearly as long as he does in the spring. You can tell he’s happy, he runs around the garden following me wherever I go.
Big D in spring 1
Big D in spring 2
I know exactly how he feels – do you?

Use What You Have

April 7th, 2014

It’s sugaring season, that means my days and nights are filled with sap gathering and boiling. Since I have hot sap at hand, I use it to make my tea.
honeyroo tea
There’s no use in using more energy to boil water when I have something that makes a mighty fine cup of tea. Last night I enjoyed a delicious cup of Honeyroo tea – one of my favorites!

What’s your favorite kind of tea?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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