HOW TO REPLACE A GARDEN SPADE WOODEN HANDLE

Posted in Gardening Tips, how to features on August 8th, 2013 by John Coxon

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Good quality garden tools should last a life time and older tools tend to be made of better steel so, when the wooden handle breaks it seems a pity to discard and replace it with new. I actually found this  good quality  steel spade, minus its wooden handle, which had been thrown away.  Handles tend to break where the spade meets the handle so you may well have to dig out the remnants of the handle left in the tube which houses it.

Usually handle is riveted to the spade and so you will have to remove the rivet to get at the remaining wood.  To do this you simply have to drill into the head of the rivet. Use a centre punch to make a mark in the centre of the rivet head by tapping it with a hammer – the small indentation you make  prevents the drill tip skating all over the place.

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Drill out the head of the rivet.

Drill out the head of the rivet.

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Next simply use a punch to knock the rivet out.  The easiest way to get the remaining wood out of the spade tubing is to use a flat bit or an auger bit but make sure you have allowed the wood to dry out first.

Garden tool handles are often made of ash for strength and long life.

Garden tool handles are often made of ash for strength and long life.

Once you have the hole cleared you are ready to insert the new handle.  Garden fork and spade handles are pretty standard and ready tapered to make a snug fit to the tool. Line it up , insert in the hole and then , holding the handle give the spade a few sharp taps on a solid surface so the handle fits tightly. Next you need to secure it with a rivet which can be easily made from a wire round head nail. First drill a hole through the handle using the previous rivet holes in the metal as a guide to size. Push the nail through the hole and mark it leaving about a quarter of an inch of the cut side protruding the other side.  You then place the assembled handle on a hard surface so that you can tap the protruding end of the nail with a hammer and flatten it over to form your rivet and hey presto- job done!

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simple rivet made from a cut off round head wire nail.

simple rivet made from a cut off round head wire nail.

 

insert the nail rivet through the existing hole.

insert the nail rivet through the existing hole.

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The re handled spade. I rubbed down the wooden shaft with wire wool and then coated it in boiled linseed oil. You could of course use exterior clear varnish – to get a great finish water down the first coat with white spirit so it is adsorbed into the wood.

DSC_6376Why not take a look around my blog here for other helpful tips but also you can follow me on Facebook where I regularly post photos and new ideas. Find me here !

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GOING WILD WITH FREE STRAWBERRIES

Posted in Gardening Tips, how to features on August 5th, 2013 by John Coxon

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Cultivated strawberries are so easy to grow and hence the most popular fruit grown in UK gardens and once you have bought a few plants, the way they reproduce means that you will never have to buy new plants again as they are self-perpetuating.

runners & new growth  pegged in a separate container to take root.

runners & new growth pegged in a separate container to take root.

 

Strawberries send out runners on which new plants form- place them over potting medium and use a wire peg to hold the new plant close to the soil- separate from the runner when the new plant has put down roots and you have another free strawberry plant.

all these new plants from one parent plant- cut away from runners when they have rooted & new growth looks healthy

all these new plants from one parent plant- cut away from runners when they have rooted & new growth looks healthy

 

 

I grow cultivated strawberries in my garden but also love wild strawberries and have many more of those growing in various wooden containers I have made . Whilst the cultivated ones have modestly fruited already, the wild strawberries are still giving me new fruit as they have been doing for the past two months.

Smaller leaves and fruit than the cultivated ones but wild strawberries produce more prolifically & the fruit is so sweet

Smaller leaves and fruit than the cultivated ones but wild strawberries produce more prolifically & the fruit is so sweet

Wild strawberries , (Fragaria vesca), like the cultivated ones we buy from garden centres, are creeping plants and produce  “runners”, that is  long thin stems which grow out from the parent plant sideways on the surface of the soil and that is how they reproduce by starting new plants a distance away from the origin alone. As with cultivated strawberries, once you have bought or obtained a few plants you can use this feature of their growth pattern to get endless free additional plants to grow on.

If not convenient to peg wild strawberry runners into pots, just them off and leave

If not convenient to peg wild strawberry runners into pots, just them off and leave

You can encourage the runner based new plants to put down roots by , for example using a small peg made from bent over garden wire to pin the plant down in a pot placed under each new shoot.

I cut off the runners and some of the growth before putting them in shallow water to root.

I cut off the runners and some of the growth before putting them in shallow water to root.

However , with wild strawberries, it is also easy and quicker, I recently discovered, to cut the runners and then place  the new shoot in shallow clean water and , in a couple of days or more you will see small white roots emerging and then you can pot them on.

I use ice cube trays -shallow water with just the growing point in the water

I use ice cube trays -shallow water with just the growing point in the water

I use ice cube trays filled with water for this purpose as you don’t want to immerse the whole plant in water, ( it may rot and die)  just the base of the plant from which the roots will emerge.

after just a few days you will see tiny white roots sprouting and then the plants can be potted on.

after just a few days you will see tiny white roots sprouting and then the plants can be potted on.

Although I grow a number of everyday cultivated strawberries, I find that wild strawberries are more prolific and in fruit over a longer period – the wild strawberries are generally much smaller than the ones we buy in the shops but actually incredibly sweet and pleasant to eat straight from the plant when they have ripened.

 

I have a number of wooden troughs I have made in which I grow my wild strawberries- I make sure they remain well watered as well as giving them a helping hand with weekly tomato plant feed to encourage them to fruit and keep fruiting.

Potting on- I have shelf fulls of both wild and cultivated strawberries from runners - will winter them in the greenhouse and share some of them with friends if the majority survive

Potting on- I have shelf fulls of both wild and cultivated strawberries from runners – will winter them in the greenhouse and share some of them with friends if the majority survive

 

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