Tutorial: Garden hose repair

Although for most of my watering tasks I try to rely on my rain barrels, occasionally I do need to use a hose. And as hoses tend to develop cracks and leaks over time, I take time once or twice a year to do some mending. It’s easy to do, and much less expensive than buying a new hose.

I came into a discarded garden hose recently and am carving it up into lengths to join portions of soaker hose. Using short lengths of non-soaker hose in between the soaker lengths reduces water waste in those areas that don’t need watering. hose repair assemble materials

Here, I have two screwdrivers, a flat head and a Phillips head (x-head). I also have a tape measure, male and female hose fittings (be sure to get a size that matches your hose diameter), and rubber washers. A knife or box cutter is also required for this task.

The fittings can be purchased at any hardware store for a few dollars apiece. Rubber washers can be purchased singly for a few cents apiece, or in larger packets, ensuring you’ve got them when you need them. While these are plastic fittings, and this particular brand has worked well for me in the past, brass fittings are also available, and though they cost a bit more they are well worth the investment to repair a high-quality hose.

Repairing a hose:

1. Measure the length of hose you need, mark it, and cut it. Make a straight cut; it will reduce leaks when you attach the fittings.

2. Determine which fitting you need. Each length of hose should have one male and one female end.

3. Insert the tapered end of the appropriate fitting into the cut length of the hose.  It may help to lubricate the end of the fitting with a bit of petroleum jelly. Make sure the hose comes up to the top of the fitting’s threads. Below on the right is a well-seated male fitting.

4. Secure the new attachment with a clamp (these often come with the fitting, or can be purchased separately ).

That’s it! Once you mend your first hose you’ll be very impressed with yourself and will start looking for other things to mend. This practice is habit-forming and may result in your spending lots of time in hardware stores poring over bins of clamps and screws.

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DIY greenhouse, really cheap

Need a really inexpensive mini-greenhouse?

Combine a recyclable plastic tub in which pre-washed spinach or greens come packed at the supermarket, with a disposable shower cap from a hotel stay.

cheap DIY greenhouse

Plant directly or use to hold individual cups or paper pots.

Homemade composter: Upcycled pickle barrel

I have never met a gardener who believed she had enough compost.

English: A picture of compost soil

English: A picture of compost soil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the past, I have generated my compost in homemade bins made of 2x lumber and window screening, chicken wire, or whatever materials I had to hand. Those enclosures work well enough, but of course compost does take time.

I have always eyed those compost tumblers in gardening supply catalogues and wondered if they work as well as they allege. When I happened across a design for a homemade compost tumbler, from the blog Potholes and Pantyhose, I recognized a golden opportunity.

It was an especially fortuitous discovery because I happened to have most of the materials on hand.

Some years ago I obtained four pickle barrels off of Craigslist (about $15 apiece) with the intention of creating four rain barrels. I successfully made three. The fourth barrel had a lid that would not come off, no matter how we tried. It sat behind our shed until now, waiting for its opportunity to serve. I also had lumber and most of the necessary hardware, including a discarded metal closet rod that would serve beautifully as the tumbler axis.

homemade compost tumbler

The instructions at Potholes and Pantyhose are straightforward enough.  I found that the window latch hardware was insufficient to hold the lid closed, though, so I used a T-hasp closure instead (yes, that’s a stick stuck through the closure).

I’ve placed the tumbler next to my regular compost pile. Every time I go out to the pile, I give the tumbler a few spins (the kids also like to give it a whirl, which only accelerates the decomposition). Kitchen scraps, weeds, and newspaper go into the tumbler, while larger garden debris and shredded leaves and twigs go into the pile.

So far, it’s working brilliantly.