New uses for old garden tools

When the gardens are dying down and winter is approaching for many of us we find ourselves doing those odd garden chores like sorting through garden tools.

I tend to collect old garden tools. You never know when you might need a new handle for you favorite tool or a tool might break. But, many of us have too many tools.

If you find yourself in this position you may get inspiration from these useful purposes for old tools: Garden Art!

garden art from old tools

image by Denise Grant

A combination of old unused garden tools and old tools creates a whimsical bird. Most of these items you probably have in the potting shed or garage.

I have set aside a stash of tools that could be turned into animals, birds, wreaths or trellises.

During the cold winter months this will be one of my projects, creating garden art. I will also spend a few weeks canvasing the local scenery looking for inspirational garden art created by local gardeners. I plan to use these ideas to create my own tool garden art.

New Ornamental Gourd Variety

There are often new gourd varieties that show up. They may be from a foreign country or a odd spring from other gourds.

Being a gourd-a-holic, I am always interested in new gourds. This year my neighbor gave me “Angel Wings”

It’s an ornamental gourd that can be purchased in small, medium and large sizes. The large is about 12 inches long. What makes them unique are the wings that grow from the sides.

Being the colorful ornamental gourd variety that has numerous colors and color patterns also makes this gourd a must have for my garden next year.

Ornamental gourds work well for decorating, crafting and even drying for later gourd crafts.

Create a Festive Holiday Pumpkin Planter

Pumpkins seem to signify fall harvests and holidays. So celebrate the fall holidays with a floral pumpkin planter. It’s very easy to carve and hollow a pumpkin that will hold a potted plant.

Pumpkin planters look great on porches, stairways, along fencing or especially as a centerpiece for a holiday party!

Start by selecting a fresh pumpkin that is round in shape, dent free and not too tall. For a centerpiece I like to use a pie pumpkin. For individual table setting miniature pumpkins are perfect. Clean the pumpkin with warm soapy water and then use a water mix with a little bleach added. The bleach will kill any bacteria that could cause the pumpkin to rot. Let the pumpkin set until the bleach has had a chance to dry or evaporate.

I measure the flowerpot I plan to use then carefully cut all the way the pumpkin with a sharp knife a hole a little bigger than the pot I intend to use. You may want to mark a line for cutting on the pumpkin with a marker.

Make sure the opening is large enough to place a flowerpot inside the cavity.

Scoop out the seeds and pulp from inside the pumpkin using a large spoon. If you have time let the pumpkin set for a bit and air dry. It will help it seal and last longer.

Next cut a small drainage hole near the bottom of the pumpkin.

Place a potted chrysanthemum, indoor plant or a colorful potted annual inside the pumpkin cavity. If the plant sits too low you can add crumpled aluminum foil or an upturned plastic container to raise the plant. If the plant is too high you can hide the exposed portion of the pot with decorative moss, dried grass or cornhusks arranged in a pleasing fashion.

Display your pumpkin planter on the front porch or inside the house in a cool location away from direct sunlight. This will help the pumpkin last longer. You may want to place dried leaves, oak nuts, miniature ornamental corn or small ornamental gourds near the arrangement.

To help the pumpkin last longer remove the potted plant to water. Let the pot drip dry and replace after it has drained for a few minutes.

How to Bake Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds make a nutritional snack and are easy to prepare. And why throw away those seeds when you are carving your Halloween masterpiece or making a holiday pie?

Harvesting pumpkin seeds

  1. Always wash your pumpkin well before cutting it. A pumpkin may look clean but chemicals might have been used when it was grown so wash it in warm soapy water and let dry.
  2. Carefully cut into your pumpkin. Scoop out the stringy membrane. If your pumpkin sat outside the membrane will be cold. Rinse the seeds until they are free of any membrane matter. This should take a few minutes.
  3. Pat dry with paper towels
  4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Put the seeds on a paper towel and let them dry for a few more minutes.
  6. Spray a baking sheet with butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray or brush with a light coating of vegetable oil. This will stop the seeds from sticking.
  7. Put the seeds on the baking sheet in a single layer, turning to coat lightly with the spray or the oil. Sprinkle the seeds lightly with salt or a seasoning if you want additional flavor. Cajun seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic salt are some possibilities. For a saltier treat, boil the pumpkin seeds in heavily salted water for ten minutes, and then bake them.
  8. Place the baking sheet in the oven. Cook the seeds for 10 minutes and turn. Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until brown and slightly crisp. Allow to cool before eating.
  9. Store seeds in an airtight container.

Pumpkin seeds make a healthy snack. They pack well and work well for extra nutrition and energy while hiking and camping. For a change and different taste mix with sunflower seeds.

Note: Pumpkin seeds can be eaten with the outer shell on or off.

It was a tradition at my home to carve the pumpkins and then roast the seeds. We would enjoy the pumpkins glowing in the dark for several days and about a week later enjoy the seeds as a nighttime snack.

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