Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Upper South
January, 2008
Regional Report

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Get creative and decoupage a box for storing seed packets.

Garden Projects for a Winter's Day

Sure, you could be organizing the garden shed or doing maintenance on the tiller, but why not create something that will make an aspect of gardening more pleasurable? Craft projects that are either made for the garden or from the garden are a delightful adjunct to the actual process of gardening. There are endless possibilities, of course, but designing a special box for storing seeds seems particularly appropriate with seed orders soon arriving in the mail. Another idea is a simple bench for the garden.

Decoupage a Seed-Storage Box
Certainly you could buy a utilitarian storage bin for your seeds, but why not create something that is uniquely yours? One of my favorite ways of doing this is with a simple, old-fashioned method: decoupage. Yes, hobby stores still carry that milky white stuff that dries clear, preserving the decorations of choice. Nothing could be easier. And the choices for decoration of a garden project are everywhere. Old catalogs are first on the list, but calendars, greeting cards, magazines, gift wrap, paper napkins, empty seed packets, pressed flowers and leaves, and computer clip art are certainly among the other options.

As for choosing a box, the size of seed packets suggests a shoe box or a plain, white photo storage box. Hobby and craft stores offer wooden and paper-mache boxes, too. Look around your house or thrift stores for other possibilities. The wide range of colors in acrylic craft paints means that whatever the color of the box, it can certainly be transformed into any color you might want.

There are several brands of decoupage medium, with slightly varying instructions, so be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions if they vary from the instructions below.

Plan your design and cut out the materials as needed. Using a 1-inch foam brush, apply the decoupage medium to the backside of the paper cutout. Position the item on the box surface, gently smoothing it out with your fingers to remove any creases or air bubbles. Let it set for a few minutes, then clean the edges with a dampened paper towel. Continue adding items to your design.

When the box is painted and decorated to your satisfaction, apply a coat of decoupage finish to the entire box, applying evenly and smoothly with the foam brush. Allow to dry, then apply a second coat. More coats can be applied, if desired, but it is not necessary.

Although a decoupaged seed box works great for keeping seeds organized for one growing season, any leftover seed should be stored in an airtight jar or vacuum packaging kept in the refrigerator to maintain viability until next year.

Make a Leopold Bench
This simple bench made of six boards was originally designed by Aldo Leopold for use on the Wisconsin farm that he and his family restored. One of the earliest proponents of ecological restoration, Leopold is best known for A Sand County Almanac, whose descriptive passages inspire an appreciation of our native landscape and the need to preserve it.

This is not a bench for lollygagging, but the austere simplicity has its own appeal. It can be left to weather naturally to a gray patina or painted, stained, and decorated to your heart's content. Move it around the garden, or make several.

Directions for the bench are available on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Landscaping With Native Plants Web site.

As John Muir wrote, "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to plan in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike."

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