Why these garden projects are made for winter
In a large community garden in London there is an allotment garden, which is characterized by a collection of wooden structures. The owner, Bill, loves building sheds more than gardening him.
Winter is the perfect time to flex your own handy muscles. Because in spring there is no time for it with all the gardening work.
Here is our top 5 list of conservatory projects:
1. Cold frames. A cold frame is an extension of the season – out earlier, in later. You use it to start your plants early in the spring and make the late fall more productive. They are ideal for overwintering dormant perennials.
Basically, any box with an angled lid and a clear lid works well. Look for plans online or work randomly with what you have available. Mark used a series of single pane glass windows for the “sun paneling” of his cold frames. Whichever recycled glass or plastic you can get your hands on, you can determine the dimensions for the base, which should be around 30 centimeters high at the short end and up to 80 cm high at the high end. The angled transparent top maximizes sun exposure, perfect for hardening seedlings in spring and protecting the greens in autumn.
2. Bird houses. With bird habitats under constant pressure, it is almost impossible to have too many nesting boxes for birds. Mark has more than 40 in his 10 acre garden, at least 30 of which are inhabited each spring. Birds Canada recommends drainage and ventilation to prevent harmful mold from building up. We find that the best designs have a hatch on the back or bottom for easy fall cleanup. A large metal washer – 1 to 1-1 / 2 inches tall – mounted around the entry hole prevents predators such as red squirrels from chopping the wood and threatening your bird dwellers.
3. Pot bench. This is how you get the most out of your garden or summer house. Basic two-by-four and patio screws will serve you for years.
We prefer designs with shelves under the tabletop for storing pots and soil. It also helps to anchor the table to keep it from wobbling while you are busy potting in the spring. A stainless steel bowl or a plastic tray that you can drop through a recess in the table makes sense. We find it handy for holding potting soil and watering plants without it getting dirty. Use the wood cutout as a lid that is flush with the bowl or tray.
4. Trellis. Here is a great opportunity to get creative. An unsightly view of your garden is the perfect opportunity to bring in a trellis with maybe a climbing rose or clematis – they’re a lot nicer to look at, aren’t they?
When Ben’s sister, Heather, a landscape architect, was developing her vision for her east Toronto backyard, she sent her father the specifications: rectangular “Japanese-style” boxes, hollow to hold an ugly metal post, and horizontal slatted glories for training morning glories and climbing roses. Simple 90-degree cuts for a sophisticated look at a fraction of the cost.
5. A place to play. Our family continues to grow – Mark has become a grandpa and Ben has become an uncle four times in the past four years. That’s four little ones running through the garden when we all get together.
The children’s playhouse is a highlight for grandma and grandpa. Mark built it in four parts last winter; the four walls were built from scrap wood and leftover barnboard and hammered together outdoors on a warm spring afternoon. Not only does it make for a fun, architectural feature in an otherwise empty corner of the property, it also provides hours of outdoor entertainment.
Think like Bill across the pond this winter: look around to see what materials you might have and put your hands to work to enjoy something in the garden for the season to come.
Mark and Ben Cullen are seasoned gardeners and contributors to the star. Follow Mark on Twitter: @ MarkCullen4