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Wood Turning and the Garden
By Darrell Feltmate

For many a hobby wood turner, summer slows down the production of wooden objects lovingly turned from beautiful wood. Many, you see, are fans of gardening as well and the summer season can be all too short as flowers are planted and vegetable savored. However, the preceding months of spring can be full for the wood turner and gardener combined.

There are many objects that can be produced for the garden. Simple stakes become turned objects of beauty to reveal rows of garden produce. Such mundane tasks such as laying out a row with a string can become that little bit more pleasurable when the string is wound around a reel that one has made oneself and even the string pegs are turned from a nice piece of beech or maple.

Before the garden is tilled and indeed for many before the snow is off the ground, it is time to start plants indoors to get a jump on the season. In short season areas this can start as early as three months before the spring frosts have ended and it will mean the difference between some blooms coming before fall frosts or having tomatoes at all.

The wood turner is able to make, with ease and beautiful wood, a simple tool that allows some of that newspaper that would go to the land fill or the recycling center, to used as a plant pot maker. A base with a depression is turned and a plunger with a comfortable handle is made to fit snugly within. Not too snugly, however, because a strip of newspaper will be wrapped around the plunger and let project from the bottom. The projection is pushed up to layer the bottom and the plunger is pushed into the base to firm up the folds. Once the paper is slipped off the plunger a small plant pot has been made.

Now the plant pot is filled with planting mix, seeds planted or little seedlings inserted, and it is set in a seedling tray under lights or in the cold frame. As the seedings grow their roots emerge from the sides of the pots, ready to expand into the soil as they are later planted, pot and all.

The garden can be decorated with different turnings. One perennial favorite is the mushroom made of various materials. Plastic ones have appeared but they look like plastic in the midst of a haven of natural beauty. Concrete ages in well and achieves a patina that looks good in the garden but a large mushroom can be a difficult thing to move and arrange in concrete. For the wood turner it becomes a time of fun as a log section is placed on the lathe and shavings fly to let a mushroom emerge. A simple coat of environmentally safe oil allows it to move quickly to the garden where it becomes a focal point in the spring and later a surprise discovery when covered by the verdure of summer only to be found as one turns a corner midst the blooms.


What of all those shavings? They certainly do seem to pile up quickly. Many make it to the compost heap to perform the same duty as a tree that falls in the woods and rots to make a forest floor. Others serve to mulch a garden bed or path and add slowly to the soil. Nest year, they may hold up yet another mushroom hidden among blooms that have started in the paper pots.

Darrell Feltmate is a juried woodturner whose web site, http://aroundthewoods.com, contains detailed information about woodturning for the novice or experienced turner as well as a collection of turnings for your viewing pleasure. You too can learn to turn wood, here is the place to start. Wondering what it looks like? Follow the page links for a free video. http://aroundthewoods.com

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GetWoodworking.com is the complete online woodworking resource for all levels of woodworker. View their woodworkers forum, user galleries and articles from The Woodworker and Good Woodworking magazines

Woodcraft supplies

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We supply hobbyist woodturners with tools, equipment and materials by mail order or at our specialist shop. We also supply Pyrography tools.

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