New Trugs finally available!

It’s been a few years of work to get my trug designs just right, but now they’re finally available for sale through our Etsy store. We have two sizes available for now, small and large. The small one is great for collecting eggs or for any junior gardeners in your life, while the larger is great for almost anything you do in the garden. Each trug is handmade and no two are perfectly identical.

5trug3

Large Trug

trugs

Both sizes of trug

The trugs can be found here:

Large Garden Trug
https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/196743621/large-garden-trug-traditional-english

Small Garden Trug:
https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/196741769/small-garden-trug-traditional-english

To any of our blog subscribers, contact us for a discount off the Etsy price.

New Wild Bee Houses

Earlier this week I finished a new wild bee house design. After puttering about with a few different concepts, I’ve decided on this one.

greenbeehouse2It’s made from aircraft plywood, reeds and pine, held together with copper nails. The stain is a water-based, VOC-free solid colour. Now we wait to see what bees and bugs come to take up shop in our garden!

This design, as well as a version without a finish are available through our Etsy store:

https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/188835950/wild-bee-insect-house-green-bent-plywood?ref=related-0

 

Felt Planters

We like to grow a lot. To the point where we’re running out of space. I realized we needed to take advantage of the endless vertical space we seem to have. After some experimenting and research over the winter, I designed a felt planter to hang on our patio to grow strawberries in.

SAMSUNG

I used EcoFelt which is made from recycled plastic bottles and stands up to the rigours of outdoor life. As the plants grow, their roots are air pruned as they reach the edges of the planter. The felt also helps retain water so the plants never go dry.

We bough strawberry plants from William Dam Seeds, about 25 root stock for $20, and within a few weeks the fruits have developed and we should be tucking into strawberry rhubarb pie very soon!

strawberry

 

There’s been a good bit of interest in these planters, so we’ve decided to put them online for sale on our Etsy store here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/154871760/felt-wall-planter-envelope

If you want a better deal and want to pickup rather than pay delivery, let me know and we can sort something out. If you time it right, you may walk away with some strawberries to munch on as well.

Free Wheel Hoe Plans

Looking for our wheel hoe plans? They’ve moved to our new site Spade & Feather:

http://blog.spadeandfeather.com/?p=112

 

Home-made Wheel Hoe

***UPDATE: We’ve posted the plans for making the hoe here: http://www.growingandmaking.com/2013/06/11/free-wheel-hoe-plans/ ***

This year we are planting an extra 1500 sq ft of vegetables and to make the work a little easier, I did some research into non-powered tools for preparing, maintaining and harvesting the new field. The one tool that kept popping up was a wheel hoe. Not a fake hoe, but a wheel hoe.

The wheel hoe is essentially a two handled plough that is pushed by the gardener rather than pulled by draught animals or a tractor. On a small-scale vegetable patch or in a market garden, it is the ideal size to keep the soil turned and the weeds at bay. Using different attachments, the gardener can make quick work of usually labourious tasks.

The wheel hoe has been around since the 1800’s but has made a bit of comeback thanks to companies like Hoss Tools who stayed true to original design. At $179, it is quite reasonable, but with the tools and skills to build my own, it was an easy decision to keep the money in the bank. The only prefabbed part I purchased from Hoss Tools was the hoe attachment as making it wouldn’t be very cost effective and required specialized tooling.

Aside from the mass produced models, there are a few blogs out there offering kits to make your own, but I couldn’t find any that offered the same features and versatility of the mass produced ones. After studying what felt like a few million images, I was able to use the data to create a 3D model that used the same hole placement for the Hoss attachments but used stock steel tubing and flat bar.

After cutting, welding, drilling and painting the steel body, I still needed to find a wheel. It wasn’t worth fabricating a steel wheel like on the original, so I looked at thrift stores for an old wheel off a kid’s bike or toy. No luck. Apparently kids in our neighbourhood don’t like donating their bikes for the less fortunate to buy. Back at work, and after cursing the little sh*ts in our neighbourhood for hours, I started scouring the offices and rooms for a wheel. As luck would have it, someone had snapped the casters of a drafting chair, rendering it useless. I helped make it even more useless by removing the foot rest loop which happened to be the perfect size to use as the wheel on the hoe!

The dark green parts are fabricated, while the light green was store bought.

The dark green parts are fabricated, while the light green was store bought.

After making a hub for the wheel and forming two wood handles, I assembled everything to find that I had a hoe that seemed, on frozen ground, to work quite well.

Yes, that is snow on the ground. What better time than now to get the tools ready for the spring!

Yes, that is snow on the ground. What better time than now to get the tools ready for the spring!

If anyone wants the plans as a 3D file or drafting, just post in the comments or email me and I’d be happy to share.

Making a Sussex Trug

While watching Edwardian Farm, we noticed that they were using a really nice wood strip basket to collect fruit in. After looking all over the internet for what it was called, I found that it was a Sussex Trug. The design of the trug was developed over the last few hundred years and is renowned for its strength and durability in the garden.

The internet is an amazing resource where you can always find something on a specific topic. My topic was, “how to make a sussex trug”. Nothing. Then “how to make a trug”. Nothing. All I found was people protecting their trade secrets. Fair enough I suppose, but I just needed some basic information! In the end I found a video that at least discussed materials, and after a few paper models, I’d figured out the sizes and form of the strips.

Traditionally chestnut and willow were used to make the trug. Seeing as neither of those were readily available, I substituted with Baltic birch plywood. This isn’t your run of the mill plywood you get at the local big-box store. This is high quality, voidless, incredibly strong plywood. To simulate the thickness, I used 3-ply (1/8″-ish). The strips were cut with the grain into 60″ strips for the rim and handle, and 30″ strips for the basin.

To bend wood or plywood, you can’t just work it over your knee. The wood won’t shift, and if it does, it will snap. In the past I’ve built steam bending boxes, but at 60″, the strips were too big to construct a box for. Instead, I soaked the plywood in water overnight in a trough I made from some down spout and plastic sheeting. In the morning after soaking for 12 hours, I emptied the cold water and refilled with boiling water.

Soaking the strips of Baltic birch plywood

After another half an hour, the strips were fairly pliable. To create the desired shape of the handle and rim, I made two forms out of two 3/4″ pieces of MDF (medium density fibreboard) laminated and cut to the right size and shape. I lined the edge of the forms with wax paper to protect the MDF from soaking up any excess water from the strips.

MDF trug forms

With the forms ready to go, I worked quickly to bend the 1 1/4″ strips around the form, securing the strips with a ratchet strap. I left the forms with the Baltic birch wrapped around them in the sun to dry for the afternoon. That evening, I removed the bent pieces from the forms. At this point they loosely hold the shape, but need to be set in place to stay true to the shape.

The trug rim and handle after drying in the sun

Both rim and handle, are made up of three strips laminated together with waterproof glue. To do this, each preformed hoop is placed back on the form with glue between each hoop. It is important to alternate the seam of the hoops to avoid creating a weak point where the hoop will break. With the strips in place with glue between them, the ratchet straps went back on, and the pieces were left overnight to cure. Before bed I plunged the strips for making the basin into the water trough to soak.

The next day I added hot water to the trough as before, and removed the laminated pieces from the forms. After filing and sanding the edges round, I assembled the rim and handle. To hold everything together, I used copper nails. These nails will never rust, and when hammered into the wet basin strips, they leave blue marks in the wood which is pleasing to the eye. I think finding the right nails was probably the most time consuming part of the whole process. After going to Lee Valley and Home Depot, I found copper nails at Canadian Tire that were a little long, so I snipped a little off the end of each one.

Another feature of the trug is the wood feet to keep it upright and from spilling your harvest all over the floor. I used some leftover white poplar from our kitchen cabinet doors that I shaped and sanded to best match what I found on the internet.

Poplar trug feet

With the handle and rim assembled, it’s time to start the tricky part of nailing down the basin strips. Starting in the middle, the largest strip is nailed to the bottom of the handle hoop, then the feet, and finally the rim. As the wood is flexible from its night in the bath, it can be bent, with a little force, to conform to the desired shape. Strip by strip, the basin is assembled, overlapping each strip and carefully nailing each into place. Once complete, the rough looking trug is set out in the sun for the afternoon to finish drying which will set the pieces to their new bent forms.

On the final day, I trimmed all of the excess from the ends of the basin strips, and voilà, the trug is complete!

Side view of the trug

Top view of the finished trug

The trug is now waiting for the first harvest of the season so it can do its duty. At this point, I’m guessing that harvest will be weeds we’ve pulled from the garden. But don’t throw those weeds away! There are lots of things you can make from them. More to come on that in the following days.