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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Gifts for Gardeners: Temporary Tool Storage

Jessica Walliser
Hobby Farms Contributor

Transform an old locker or mailbox into a temporary storage unit for garden tools. Photo by Jessica Walliser (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jessica Walliser

If you are considering purchasing a holiday gift for the gardener in your life, there's certainly no shortage of ideas. Books, tools, seeds, gloves, plants, pots and other gardening paraphernalia are always a hit. However, I'd like to offer you two other ideas for gifts, both targeted at simplifying your loved one's gardening chores.

I'll start by telling you that I hate running to the shed to get my garden tools. Our shed is a good 60 feet from the vegetable garden, and it always feels like traipsing back and forth between the two is a waste of time. For years, I was prone to leaving my tools out in the garden simply because I was too tired to haul them back up to the shed, knowing that I was just going to have to go back and get them again in the morning. Obviously leaving them out in the elements cut down on the life-span of my garden tools considerably. The wooden handles cracked, warped and split; the hinge springs on my pruners rusted out; and the blades of my pruning saw and loppers were dull before summer's heat even had a chance to arrive.

I've since fixed the problem—without having to resort to putting one of those ugly plastic storage closets in my beautiful vegetable garden. And I think my solution is one that would be appreciated by other gardeners who hate making regular treks to the shed or garage.

Mailbox Hideaway
The first thing I did was install a mailbox in the vegetable garden. I picked a pretty, painted metal mailbox that I came across at a craft bazaar, but any plastic or metal mailbox will do, as long as it fully closes. I positioned it on a 4x4 post sunk into the garden, but you could also attach it to the top or side of a fence post.

Inside the mailbox I put my hand pruners, my gloves, my folding saw, some plant labels and sharpies, a roll of twine, a pair of scissors, and a trowel. If I take something out of it, I raise the red flag. When I'm finished working, the red flag helps remind me that I haven't put back all my tools. When I see it, I know that I need to put whatever tool back into the mailbox before closing the garden gate for the night. Putting a mailbox in the vegetable garden is one of the best things I've ever done.

Gym Locker Cover-up
My second suggestion is along the same lines, but this one works for taller tools like shovels, rakes and hoes. I found an old, single-unit gym locker at a swap meet a few years back. It’s just tall enough for my long-handled tools, and its rusty patina adds a touch of charm to the garden. I always plant sunflowers around the locker to camouflage it a bit, but you could paint an entire mural on a locker of your own if you feel so inclined. You can make the locker as fancy or as rustic as you'd like.

And there you have it. Two great gifts that are both practical and beautiful. The gardeners in your life will love them both—trust me on this one!

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