Category Archives: Crafts

Crafts

Making Seed Tape


Store seed tape in a ziploc bag or glass jar in the fridge until ready to plant.
100 seeds for 100 days.

Have you ever tried to make a tidy row of seeds with gardening gloves on? Or with an –um– short, unskilled helper? So I’m not really that OCD to make seed tape, am I?

Anyway, if you like to keep track of what you’re planting where, and you want to encourage your kids to help you, making seed tape in advance is a great way to get started on your garden even when days are still short and cold.

Seed tape works best for small seeds that disappear in a heartbeat, like carrot, celery, kale, lettuce, etc. Larger seeds like sunflower, squash, or peas are easier to keep track of and kids have an easier time holding them, so seed tape doesn’t do much for you.

Even if you don’t have munchkins, it’s really helpful for succession planting.

Label your strips with the name of the seed, so you remember what's what.
Label your strips with the name of the seed, so you remember what’s what.

That’s the savvy gardener’s trick of planting similar quantities of something a few weeks apart, so that you have a gradual, successive harvest rather than an all-at-once-Oh-My-God-what-do-I-do-with-twenty-pounds-of-kale-in-one-week harvest.

We used this activity to accomplish something else, too. Miss H’s kindergarten class was celebrating 100 days of school by presenting collections of 100 items. We reached 100 with just six or 8 tapes, counting carrot seeds by twos. The strips had 12-16 seeds each, depending on spacing.

Miss H also labeled the strips, copying the names from the seed packets (“chives”=easy, “Lacinto Kale”=not so easy) and took all of the photos you see here, except the last one. In her Queen Maiden costume. Kids will vary widely in their ability to focus on an activity like this, so your mileage may vary.

Label your strips carefully. The right crown can help you stay focused.
Label your strips carefully. The right crown can help you stay focused.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Have your small helpers cut a newspaper (or other easily compostable paper, like grocery bags or something) into 1.5-2″ wide strips.

Use a plastic squeeze bottle for dots, or a Q-tip to spread the cornstarch goo in a line.
Use a plastic squeeze bottle for dots, or a Q-tip to spread the cornstarch goo in a line.

I accordion folded the newspaper first, which made it easier for Miss H to make straighter cuts. Happily, it really doesn’t matter if the cuts are that precise, and cutting paper to ribbons is so much fun!

2. Make a solution of 1 Tbsp Cornstarch in 1 Cup of water. Mix it well, no lumps! Then heat on the stove until just bubbling.

3. Take it off the heat and put it either in a little dish or a plastic squeeze bottle. Squeeze bottle is ideal for adults, but I didn’t have one, so I used a Q-tip. Q-tips are probably ideal for tiny hands that don’t squeeze so reliably, or if you have several assistants.

4. Read the back of the seed packet for spacing instructions, but many of these small seed plants are going to want to be 2-3″ apart before thinning. One seed packet makes a ton of tape, and not every seed will germinate, so use the spacing recommended *before* thinning. I also found it easier to pre-crease the paper down the center before I started with the cornstarch.

Use fingers or a Q-tip dipped in a little bit of cornstarch mixture to pick up a couple of seeds at a time.
Use fingers or a Q-tip dipped in a little bit of cornstarch mixture to pick up a couple of seeds at a time.

5. Lay the tape out horizontally on the wax paper in front of you. Dip your Q-tip in the cornstarch and make a gooey line down the center of the lower half of the tape, or use the squeeze bottle to make dots with the right spacing. I found it faster to make a line and approximate the spacing, but for small assistants you could make the dots for them and they could match the seeds to the dots.

6. Put 2-3 seeds per dot.

7. Fold the top half of the tape down over the bottom half, to “glue” the seeds into the center of the tape.

8. Label the tape with the type of seeds.

9. Store them in a ziploc bag or sealed glass jar in the fridge. I stuck the packets in the bags as well, so I could remember some of the later-season instructions. Since I’m going to be comparing different varieties in my garden, I will probably use the packets to label rows later as well.

Put a couple of seeds in each dot. Follow the directions on the seed packet for spacing.
Put a couple of seeds in each dot. Follow the directions on the seed packet for spacing.

10. Let your assistants plant a few tapes each week for a successive harvest all summer long!

Advertisements

Renovating a Not-So-Lovely Old Dresser


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Where the hell have I been, and what have I been up to?

Well, kindergarten has started and I’ve been a very busy little bee! I’m finally getting around to all those projects I put off as Miss H and I made the most of our final weeks of summer. Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting more photos of my many projects, as I start to get everything buttoned up in the garden before the rains start.

A wonderful friend of ours gave us some Feng Shui tips for boosting our chi in this incredibly tiny house, so one of the things I’ve been doing–in addition to the near-constant decluttering–is trying to improve and better organize our storage. I plan to post more about that soon, but first I had to show off my lovely before-and-after. A few coats of primer and paint can work such amazing miracles!

Here’s the solid wood dresser I picked up off Craigslist for $45:

Ugly, with lots of potential.

Ugly, right? So dark! And the horrible brass handles! But NINE, count them, NINE spacious solid wood drawers! And standing on lovely little legs, so I can vacuum underneath! Can you tell how excited I was to finally find the shape I wanted, at a price I can stand? If dropping $600-$1000 on a brand new dresser from Pottery Barn is not in the cards for you, either, recycle! It’s amazing what people are trying to get rid of.

All you need in your grrl toolkit is a Random Orbit Sander. WAY less time and elbow grease involved! Every grrl should have power tools. In fact, if you want more tips for power tools, head on over to the store at Bowman Hall and look at the “In the Garden” section for some of my favorites.

Turned out I had to go to three different hardware stores to find handles that would fit the odd spread of the old brass ones–I should have just gone straight to Belmont Hardware, they always have EVERYTHING. Here’s what it looked like with a few coats of paint, and some new hardware. You can also admire the lovely old redwood plank floor I sanded and refinished all by myself about five years ago, when Miss H was just a couple of months old. When I discovered the wonder of having one’s very own random orbit sander:

A new life in white, with brushed nickel handles and knobs from Belmont Hardware.

Stamped Clay Ornaments


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We’ve been cooking up some creative holiday decor over here. I’ll admit it, I’m a control freak about my tree. I’m one of those people that only hangs the ornaments that coordinate with my holiday color scheme.

Some people have elaborate gingerbread constructions or mantle-top displays. I don’t have a mantle, but I do have a little three-foot potted pre-lit fake tree that I can obsess over. And yes, I’m also one of those people that waxes poetic about the smell of a real tree in the house. “Don’t you live in the country,” I can hear you asking–“can’t you just walk out the door and practically trip over a suitable evergreen?” Yes, I probably could. And someday, if I ever live in a home bigger than your average living room (aaah, sitting in the den, are you? So you have a den, then?) well, maybe then I’ll march out into the woods and bring home a big fat conifer. Until then, I’m working on finding small, cheap ways to decorate our little tree with heirlooms hand-made by my little monkey that coordinate with my holiday scheme. Mwoo-hoo-ha-ha!

Here’s what I came up with:

20111214-165240.jpg

Here’s an ornament made by my Munchkin, same way, different result:

20111214-165541.jpg
And here’s the backside:

20111214-165641.jpg

We started out with a bucket of air-dry white clay. I had seen an idea somewhere online about rolling this white clay out and cutting it with cookie-cutters to make ornaments, which I thought was genius–if clay falls off the tree and breaks, it’s not going to be a dangerous mess, just a regular mess. And it’s not plastic! Plastic just feels…plastic.

I don’t have special holiday cookie cutters, just a pear and an apple, so we used those, as well as the lid of a spice jar and the ring of a medium Ball jar lid for circles.

20111214-170704.jpg

20111214-170716.jpg

20111214-170746.jpg
Once we had the shapes we liked, we used fingers and stamps to make impressions.

20111214-170916.jpg

We did a bunch with our initials stamped in them, although Helen really liked the zigzag and square designs.20111214-170950.jpg
It took about three days for them to dry fully before we could paint them white with acrylics. Once all that had a chance to dry, we painted the backsides with glue using Helen’s kid paint brush, then dipped them in glitter. I chose a finer grade of glitter (similar to the Martha Stewart-style glitters you see in the craft stores) and filled a small paper plate so Helen could do most of the dipping.

I thought they still needed a little something, so I used a hot glue gun to finish the edges with ribbon. The scale of the circles cut with the spice jar, in particular, is perfect on our little tree.