Weekend Project
Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: Every picture tells a story

By Justin Newcombe

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Crafty little signs will keep track of what you have planted. Justin Newcombe shows how.

Plant labels are a good way to keep track of the new crops popping up in the garden. Photo / Richard Robinson
Plant labels are a good way to keep track of the new crops popping up in the garden. Photo / Richard Robinson

With so many new plants appearing in the garden in the warm-up to winter, it's sometimes hard to remember what's what, especially if you're doing a no-dig, companion-planted, square-metre, crop-rotated, organic garden. Trying to pick the carrots from the celery or the onions from the leeks or the cabbage from the broccoli is disorienting.

When you buy plants by the punnet you usually get a small plastic label. Mine will inevitably get lost somewhere between the store and the garden. We usually buy or save seed so can't take advantage of the garden centre labels anyway. If you're the alpha gardener at your place then you'll probably know precisely where everything is, but what if you want something watered or harvested? Because you're the only one who knows where things are it's usually easier to just do it yourself otherwise you send out for a pumpkin and they come back with a rock melon.

The labels - or signs as I'm proposing here - tell everybody where everything is.

As I write this my wife has asked me to water the green crop and carrots she'd sowed yesterday. Because we had a big-as "Green Crop" sign it wasn't hard to spot where she meant. The traditional plant label has the name of the plant, date of planting and how many seeds were sown and although I had this process drilled into me I am still a little resistant to the idea of it - in other words, slack. The information on the label, should you choose to use one, can be important, especially for all you journal keepers out there. Knowing how long ago you planted your seed helps you keep track of progress. You can compare one propagation with another; evaluate different planting mixes, techniques and propagation positions. To me this all sounds like tantric gardening so I usually don't bother, but I do love to decorate the garden. Introducing veggie paintings certainly brightens up those empty autumn beds as well as making the garden a lot easier to navigate and understand ... for everybody.

Step 1

Using plywood or any flat timber, draw a vegetable silhouette and cut out with a jig saw.

Step 2

File any rough edges.

Step 3

If you're worried about weathering, paint with white acrylic paint to seal.

Step 4

Paint the basic colour and details. I've used artist acrylics but just use whatever you've got. I used hardwood veneer for some of our labels and rubbed the paint into the grain with a rag, which gave a really nice finish.

Step 5

Glue or screw a stake on to the back of the label.

- NZ Herald

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