THE BEST nail brush for gardeners: Beauty 360 Dual-Sided Nail Brush

Let’s face it – gardeners have dirty fingernails at all times of the night or day.  And, we need to clean them before presenting to the public. If you haven’t looked for fingernail brushes lately, you might be surprised to find they can be difficult to locate.  The bristles on the nail brushes that I could find were weak and would not hold up to multiple times daily deep scrubbing.

Then, I found the ultimate, excellent perfect gardener nail brush at CVS for only $3.60.  I got two!!!!

What makes them perfect?  The Beauty 360 Dual Sided Nail Brush has a regular nail brush on one side that is full and has stiff – but not too stiff – bristles that are great for scrubbing the dirt off your hands. They have held up to extremely vigorous use and showed little wear.

Nailbrush Front

But the magic part of this baby is the other side. On the other side you will find a perfect tool for cleaning all that wonderful dirt out from under your fingernails.  It has a single row of bristles that lay almost flat against the brush handle. You just slide the bristles under your fingernails and scrub away. I was dubious whether this would work or not – but it works like gangbusters!

Nailbrush Other Side
So – if you are a gardener – or work outside and get your nails dirty, then this is the perfect nail brush for you. Buy one for every sink – you won’t be sorry.

DIY Potting Bench in an Hour for Under $5

Potting Bench Header

As I am sure almost everyone out there knows from experience, it is hard to keep going when your back hurts. And even if you force yourself to keep going, at the end of the day it is hard to have a smile on your face and even harder to sleep. So, I am hugely in favor of creating work spaces that are back savers. If that can be done quickly and at little cost, then that is even better.

After one sleepless, painful evening following one full day of bending over transplanting, I had a greenhouse full of beautiful plants and the determination to not do that again. As it was in the spring, with loads more plants to transplant, I needed a quick (and painfree) solution.

So – you guessed it – I headed to my pile of pallets. As you know, I use those babies for everything.  Such a beautiful solution for so many things. I found a pallet that was (dimensions here).  Wow – that would be awesome space for a potting bench, I decided.  The slats were nicely spaced apart so pots could be set on it. No adjustments or additions to the slates needed.

The Pallet for the Potting Bench
Making the bench was easy as pie. I cut four 2×4 boards 32″ long. Then I used two 3- 1/2 star-headed screws to attach each leg at the corner. From previous work on greenhouse benches, I knew I had to attach a cross brace on the legs to stabilize the bench and I did so using scraps I had in my lumber pile.  I wanted to make things even easier, and since I made the potting bench lickety split, I decided to make a smaller one to put pots and supplies on. Now I can plant and transplant and work with plants all day long and my back is happy.

Potting bench
While this bench is in a temporary location, it will find a permanent home when things slow down. I will probably seal it so that it lasts longer, but for now, I am loving every sitting down moment with the plants and my potting bench.

I had spare 2x4s that I used for the legs, but if you had to buy the wood, it would cost around $5.00-10.00 depending on the type that you get.  The screws are about a dime each.  I used 16, so that would have been a total cost of $ 1.60 for the bench. Even if  you had to buy the screws and the 2×4 lumber, the cost of the potting bench would be less that $10.00. What a back saving deal that would be!!!

I hope this encourages you to come up with solutions that will make your life more enjoyable and your gardening less painful. You don’t have to build something complicated, expensive and time consuming. Problem solving can be as simple as slapping four legs on a pallet for a new potting bench. If you want to take the time to paint it – then by all means, do so. But, look for solutions that will allow you to re-use and re-cyle. It makes for a better life, better world.  Let me know what exciting solutions you have come up with re-using and re-cycling. And, if you make a potting bench, let me know how much you love it!

As always, be sure to use pallets that are safe for you and your environment. If you are not sure how to make sure your pallets are safe, this post is short and very clear.  In a nutshell, look for pallets that have the “HT,” heat-treated label.

Benefits of Gardening are Beyond Just A Delicious Harvest

Salad Greens
For everyone wondering whether it was worth it to go through the hard work of gardening, this bowl of greens should be a good answer. Those who do garden know that home grown produce just tastes better in ways that can never really be understood if you have never done it. Home grown produce is fresher – literally you can walk out the door, pick it and go in and enjoy its wonderful flavor immediately. This is why I go through all the trouble of gardening. Because at the end of the day (or the middle for that matter), nothing is better than walking outside and picking your meal fresh off the plant.  In addition, fresh picked produce has more nutritional content. However, recently, scientific research has confirmed that the health benefits of gardening are enormous physically as well as psychologically.

According to a meta-analysis of 22 case studies on gardening (published in March 2017), those who participate in gardening can potentially be healthier than those who do not garden. In the US, approximately 117 million people, one in three, participate in gardening and it seems like to more are interested in joining the gardening crowd every day.  In what ways can gardening help?

Nothing feels better than a satisfying day of gardening. I mentioned the joy of eating fresh produce, but there are other joys that can be found in gardening.  It is very satisfying to propagate, make more from some, as I mentioned in the propagation post. Whether you are increasing your blooming plant stock or increasing your edible plants, taking a plant from one to many is extremely satisfying. When you see your plants growing throughout a season, budding out in spring, turning beautiful in the fall, you have a sense of peace and satisfaction. I always thought this – now science agrees with me.

Onions and Garlic

When I was on limited activities, my heart doctor said I could exercise daily by walking. I asked him if gardening was OK – and he said, “Even better.”  Now, I was banned from digging at first, but there were many things that I could do. And everyday, I felt stronger and had more endurance. While gardening is not exercise, per se, it is exercise because you are physically working in the soil, lifting plants, pulling weeds, stooping, bending and standing. When you first get started – or you begin again in the spring after a long winter inside, your muscles will tell you that you have, indeed, been exercising.

And with no drugs to boot. I mentioned earlier that you get a sense of peace from gardening. Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t always go out and feel like I am in Eden. There are days that I work really hard and build up a pretty big sweat. I often come in dirty and tired, wearing a lot of dirt on my clothes and in my shoes.But, at the end of the day, I feel a healthy exhaustion, sense of accomplishment, and not in the least stressed. So, I would have to agree with science. Gardening can reduce stress, anger, fatigue, depression and anxiety – without any toxic meds.

One recent study looked at the impact of gardening on stress. In this study, thirty gardeners were asked to perform a stressful task. They were then randomly assigned to 30 minutes of outdoor gardening or indoor reading. Levels of stress were measured throughout the 30 minutes through salivary cortisol levels and self-reported mood. Both post-gardening activities led to decreases in cortisol during the recovery period, but the decreases were significantly stronger in the gardening group. After gardening, positive mood was fully restored. After reading, mood further deteriorated.  While both reading and gardening reduced stress, gardening reduced it significantly more.  In addition to gardening, you might want to grow a garden that contains plants that can reduce stress and improve your mood.

As mentioned in other posts, joining a local Master Gardeners has been a great way to meet very nice people with like interests. It has also given me the opportunity to learn something new everyday.  How much fertilizer do I need to add, is my soil pH high or low, do I need to add more nitrogen, home much lime do I need to add to soil for veggies, what is my square footage for gardening, what is my yield, what do I want to grow and where are just some of the calculations I have to make through the going season.  Yep, my cognitive function is stretched. In a good way.

Gardening would be considered moderate to high-intensity exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adults need at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (gardening counts!) per week. In fact, according gardening burns more calories per hour than lifting weights.  Since it burns calories, gardening can be helpful in weight maintenance as well as controlling blood pressure.

What the heck in Earthing ? Well, Dr. Sinatra of the Heart MD Institute considers earthing to be the most impressive breakthrough in heart health. That is pretty important in my book. Earthing is, quite simply, getting your body into contact with the Earth – much as you used to run outside barefoot as a child. Remember the feelings you had coming into contact with the ground as a child? This contact with the Earth provides the body with a natural, but subtle energy.

You are a bioelectrical being living on Earth, an electrical planet. Your body functions electrically – your heart and central nervous system for example. According to Dr. Sinatra (and many others), emerging science finds that direct contact with the ground gives you an energy infusion from the Earth.  The energy infusion is powerful, restoring and stabilizing the bioelectrical circuitry governing your physiology and organs, harmonizing your basic biological rhythms, boosting self-healing mechanisms, reducing inflammation and pain, and improving your sleep and sense of calmness. As you can imagine, when these things happen, you feel tremendously better. The discovery of these benefits, and the dynamics behind them is discussed in a book Dr. Sinatra co-authored in 2014 called  Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever!  Says Dr. Sinatra, “We humans live on a global treatment table…but don’t know it.”

So, what does Earthing do for you ?

  • Defuses the causes of inflammation while improving or eliminating the symptoms of many inflammation related disorders.
  • Reduces or eliminates chronic pain.
  • Improves sleep in most cases.
  • Increases energy.
  • Lowers stress and promotes calmness in the body by cooling down the nervous system and stress hormones.
  • Normalizes the body’s biological rhythms.
  • Thins blood and improves blood pressure and flow.
  • Relieves muscle tension and headaches.
  • Lessens hormonal and menstrual symptoms.
  • Dramatically speeds healing and helps prevent bedsores.
  • Reduces or eliminates jet lag.
  • Protects the body against potentially health disturbing environmental electromagnetic fields, EMF’s.
  • Accelerates recovery from intense athletic activity.

What are the basics of Earthing? Making sure your body has direct contact with Earth will equalize your body to the energy of the Earth. In fact, if any part of your body is in contact with the Earth, all of your body becomes equalized with the energy of the Earth. As far as I can tell, you simply can’t garden without touching the Earth.

Obviously I like gardening. But as you can tell, increasingly gardening is being recognized by the scientific and medical community as a critical component in your health. You can walk, or run, or lift weights or any number of other exercises, but I can’t think of any that have the vast array of health and psychological benefits that gardening does.

So, if you are an avid gardener – keep doing it. If you haven’t tried gardening, there is no better time to start than now!

DIY Raised Bed using Recycled Corrugated Roofing Material

Harvest in Raised Bed

Raised beds are quite the gardening rage these days and they are beneficial for a variety of reasons. If high enough, they can save your back from constant bending over. This can be beneficial for the elderly or those who have back issues.  The type of soil you have can dictate the necessity of raised beds. As you know, my red clay soil requires raised beds for growing fruits, veggies – and, well, anything. One thing about raised beds is that they can be expensive to build and expensive to fill.  So, always looking to save money, I am always on the hunt for cost effective (cheap) raised bed ideas. I have tried several different ways to build raised beds, and one of my favorites is the one I built using (slightly rusted) corrugated roofing that for some obscure reason was left laying around in multiple locations on our property when we bought it.

I was frustrated with it sitting all over the place and was getting ready to ask my husband to haul it off.  I had really been delaying asking because I kept thinking I could surely do something with it  – old signs, bird house roofs, ????  That’s when I ran across an interesting raised bed idea from Two Peas & Their Pod.

Spark!!!  I could do the same thing – but use the rusted corrugated roofing sitting all over the property for a very inexpensive raised bed. So, that is what I did.

If you have read other posts, you know that the area I use for planting has a pronounced slope. The first semi-raised bed that I built was not sloped and I just didn’t like all the water running to the end of the bed. Since that first bed, I have built them level – which means there is a wide variance between the front of the bed and the back.  There are several ways to do raised beds on a slope including digging down on the high end or raising the end of the bed on the low end. I chose not to dig and adjusted the depth of the boards at the corners to achieve a level bed.

The first thing that I had to do was figure out where the top board would be on the front and on the back of the raised bed. For the first step, I hammered a stake at each corner of the bed and (since it was to be a 16′ bed) and in the middle as well. Using a line level, I marked the position that would be level at each corner and in the middle.  Then, I  measured each stake. To give you an idea of our sloping land, the front side of the bed is 15.5″ and the back side is 23.25 inches.

Using 4×4 treated pine, I cut the corner and middle boards.  Using 1x4x8 treated pine, I screwed the boards at the top and the bottom of each 4×4 “leg” using two 3 1/2″ star head exterior screws on each leg. I used two 8′ sections instead of a 16′ board for two reasons. First, I was planning on making two 8′ beds – but once I  got started, I decided making one 16′ bed would save resources, ie. less wood and less wasted space between the beds. And, I really don’t have a good way to get 16′ lumber home.

Corrugated Bed Frame

You can see from the slant of the top board how much our property slopes. I used a  standard and line level multiple times as I was building the frames.  It was very frustrating, actually, but I finally got the top boards level and screwed into the legs.

Next, I used 2×4 treated lumber every two feet to support the 1×4 frames. I screwed them into the 1x4s with 2 1/2″ star head exterior screws.  I also decided to put a cross brace at 8′ because it seemed a bit wobbly. You can see one side complete below.

Side of Raised Bed

In case you are wondering, I set the side boards on top of the soil. As mentioned before, I have hard red clay soil and I don’t think the bed will sink.  My husband was a little concerned when he first saw it, but decided that we would just put some braces under the supports if it does sink. So far, it has remained true despite multiple rain events.

After completing the supports for each side, I dragged the corrugated roofing material over to the raised bed. The sheets were in varying lengths and widths.  I had to decide whether to make the ridges run vertically or horizontally.  After much deliberation, I decided to have the ridges run vertically because it seemed more cost effective and easier cutting the pieces to fit. At first, I cut the pieces to match the slope of the land, but after several pieces, I realized cutting them straight worked just as effectively and was a ton easier.

I used my circular saw to cut the roofing material using a Diablo 48-tooth Steel Demon Ferrous Metal Cutting Saw Blade.  My husband didn’t think it would work, but it cut through the roofing like butter. However, make sure you wear safety glasses and preferably a long sleeve shirt because the sparks fly!!!!!

I tried to line up the corrugated sheet to the top of the board, so I ended up having to dig down a bit in some places to align the corrugated sheet to the top of the top rail.  I secured the corrugated sheet metal to the 1×4 frames with #9 x 1″ fine steel hex-head roofing screws and my fav impact driver.  The hex head made it easy to “grip” the screw as it went through the roofing. Even though they said the hex screws are self-drilling, I found it easier to pre-drill a hole first since the corrugated roofing was super thick – must have been industrial grade.

Once all the roofing was in, I decided it would be nice to be able to sit down and work in the bed, so I used 5/4 deck boards along the top.

Raised Bed with Corrugated Steel
And there she is, ready to be filled with soil. Lots of soil. She isn’t shiny and new, but using materials that I had on hand, I was able to inexpensively build a 4’x16′ raised bed for 64 square feet of gardening. And, I think it has a lot of personality – a statement that I like to re-use and re-style to save money and save resources. And, as you can see at the top of the post, the raised bed was finished and filled in time to get a nice spring harvest.

What do you  have laying around that can be used in a different way? What can you re-use to save yourself money and the world resources.  Shiny and new is not always better and I urge you to look for creative ways to renovate the past.  Let me hear from you!!!!