Monday, January 18, 2010

"MacGyver" moments in gardening

Ever rolled out dough with a sparkling cider bottle?  I had a "MacGyver" moment at the cabin on Christmas Day.  For those unfamiliar with the name/TV show, the guy was a physicist that could get out of any jamb with such mundane things as commonly found in a pocket or drawer.  Need to pry open an elevator door before you run out of air?  No problem, let's see what MacGyver has in his jacket pocket...toothpick, an old piece of floss, and two pennies.  He's out in three minutes flat.  He's just that good.  Anyway, back to my moment. 


I realized that I had forgotten to bring the rolling pin, a handy item when homemade crescent rolls are on the menu.  What would MacGyver do?  No doubt it would involve a book of matches and an old receipt, but my father-in-law saved the day for me this time.  Apparently I wasn't the first person not to have the right tool for this job.  He said his wife had the same situation happen to her.  "Just use that old bottle of Coors Light in the fridge like she did."  It was gone, but luckily we had a stash of sparkling cider and I scrubbed the label off and it worked just fine. 



 Moral:  Sometimes you just have to "make do, or do without."

All manure puns aside, does "making do" happen in the garden?  Of course.  Case in point: In the beginning of my gardening adventure, I had no idea there was a special tool for lifting or dividing perennials.  What would MacGyver do?  I'm sure it involved an old rope and a wristwatch, but I came up with something that sent the Last Frontier husband into fits.  I grabbed what I thought was a small, curved, and rusty child's-size shovel (that came with the house), and was going to town with some Geraniums.  I looked up to find the guy taking my picture whilst laughing.

 "What?" I demanded.  "What are you doing?" he asked curiously, trying in vain to stifle a grin.  I explained all the biological and technical aspects of lifting and dividing perennials.  He looked pretty relieved and then hit me with, "Oh, that's okay then.  I thought you were digging for clams."  Yes, LFG reader, I admit I was using a clamming shovel.  And we live nowhere near the beach.


The notorious clam shovel

Now somewhere along the line I did feel like I should purchase a specialized tool for the purpose, and indeed it did work better than my "make do" tool.  But my clamming shovel cost me nothing and did an adequate job.  (And MacGyver would have been proud.)

I can't be the only gardener making do with what's on hand...can I?!

P.S. I learned that great quote, part of which I included in the above post, from a former roommate's grandfather.  It was verbally trotted out on many occasions and cross-stitched, framed, and hung on the wall at his home, as well.  I had never heard it before: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."  Grand, isn't it!

29 comments:

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Your post made me smile. Thank you! Yes, there were several times, long ago, when I needed to use a glass bottle filled with cold water to roll out dough. I have a question: why do you have a clam shovel if there is no a beach close to you?... Well, now I should ask myself: why don't I have a clam shovel... there ARE beaches close to us! Thanks again!

Noelle said...

I love the clam shovel...it looks perfect for the job. I have used bits of pantyhose in order to tie vines to a trellis - does that count?

Christine B. said...

@Tatyana@MySecretGarden
The shovel came with the house when we moved in. Lucky me!

CB

RainGardener said...

I've done the roll out pie dough with a bottle. I make do with lots of things but now that you asked I can't think of one. LOL

Christine B. said...

@Noelle
Yes, pantyhose in the garden counts.

CB

Deb said...

that is a good saying....great tip with the bottle

gloria said...

Fun post - I use an old fabric shower curtain to collect fall leaves.

Hank Moorlag said...

I used kind of a McGyver knife to trim the sod as I was laying it this summer - that should count for something.

BTW, the clam shovel in the pic didn't impress me as much as the spic and span wall where your gardening tools are hung. What's up with that? Can I tell Mrs. M that you painted the shed just before things were put away this fall? Otherwise, I won't let her see this post. :)

Grace Peterson said...

Hi Christine~~ From the looks of that shovel I'd be inclined to use it a lot. I've got the standard wide-scoop that often cuts into places it shouldn't be. For me, making do means reusing potting soil. I'll lift the dead plants, shake off as much soil as possible then mix it with fresh potting soil and compost. Potting soil isn't cheap. I hope you'll post photos of the NW F&G Show. I'm unfortunately, square. :)

Rebecca @ In The Garden said...

Love MacGyver! Can't think of anything specific in the garden, but I do 'make do' with things in & out of the house. For years I rolled out dough using a large, smooth glass.

Grubbycup said...

I crochetted a hydroponic plant net because I didn't have anything else hand. Maybe a bit more Martha Stewart than MacGiver, but it was out of not having the "right" tool on hand.

Cinj said...

Well, sometimes we just have to be inventive don't we?

On a side note I read one of your older posts about washing our garden tools. Yeah, I don't do that either. Sounds like too much work to me...

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

LOL! I think you brought back a lot of memories for several of us.I have used a Pop or Soda bottle (according to where your live) and a glass before.

Deborah at Kilbourne Grove said...

I have many MacGyver moments. Now that I have two houses, whatevder I need is at the other. I am way to cheap to buy a second, when in 5 years, the households will be combined, so I am making "do" a lot.

Christine B. said...

@Hank Moorlag
Hi there Hank!

That spic and span wall is actually the side of the house...classy, no? So you see why I have to make an effort to keep the tools somewhat clean. Alas, we have no shed, else the tools would be hurled into it with little fanfare at the end of the season.

CB

Cindee said...

My best McGyver idea came when I saw my father tossing my grandfather's old mailbox in the garbage. I fished it out and mounted it on a post next to my birdbath. I keep a scrub brush in it to clean the birdbath with. And it's a great reminder of my grandfather who loved to garden.
Cindee

Wendy said...

yes, that's a great quote - but all I can think now is "make do" in a manure pun kind of way. :)

Kate said...

Now I need a clam shovel. :) That's a great idea.

Mary Anne said...

I LOVE that quote! Back in the day...reduce/reuse/recycle was just a way of life.

Christine B. said...

@Cindee
You sound like a resourceful gal! Not only a sentimental item rescued, but a useful one, too. I was going to get rid of our old mailbox but the kids insisted they could find a use for it in the playhouse out back.

Thanks for sharing your "making do" idea with us.

Christine

Rosey Pollen said...

I just love re-purposing! Love the reference to good old magyver. What a clever post!

Kyna said...

Put in all the manure puns you like! :)

Great blog!

Kimberly said...

I LOVE your referral to MacGyver! What fun! I love your blog...wonderful, but horrifyingly cold photos!! :) I'm looking forward to following your blog and Alaskan adventures!

Christine B. said...

@Kimberly
The cold weather is "horrifying" alright! I am reapplying the moisturizer to my hands so often I should buy stock in their company. Glad you enjoy the blog.

CB

Pam's English Garden said...

I think gardeners are experts at "making do". I needed a small stake for a house plant the other day and used a pencil. Your blog is so very witty; I enjoy it enormously! Pamela

Christine B. said...

@Pam's English Garden
Hello Pamela and thanks for stopping by! A pencil is a great tool for gardeners, no? I use them for making little holes in the soil to put seeds into (a dibble?) but using them as stakes seems only natural. Most of the pencils around my place are princess-themed though, which doesn't really blend with your standard green houseplant. Speaking of houseplants, I'm always amazed I haven't managed to kill them off. It's feast or famine when it comes to watering!

CB

James A-S said...

I have absolutely no idea what to do with a clamming shove. I am also ashamed to admit that I thought that Alaska was pretty much a garden free zone.
I do however, have huge respect for anybody who mentions MacGyver in a garden blog post so will be returning frequently.

Christine B. said...

Hello James,

I don't know what to do with a clamming shovel either (as demonstrated in this post). Love your Three Men Went Out to Mow bit.

CB

Peter said...

My grand-pa said that! My family has it carved into wooden plaques in our homes. It wasn't Grand-pa Hall, was it? I know my grandpa got it from the depression era so I'm sure other people of the same age could possibly know it. But I haven't heard anyone say that phrase other than my own family.

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