The Prize Pack Tookbox Lineup

Giveaway – Gorilla Glue Prize Pack!


This contest is now closed, but please enjoy the projects listed at the bottom of this post, read the projects and tips shared in the comments and share your own projects!

Do you fix things?

Is your to-be-repaired pile getting a little tall?

What about that project that’s just waiting for a magical adhesive to be completed (or started)?

Whether you’re a devoted Gorilla Glue Fan or haven’t yet picked up that Gorilla Tough bottle of incredibly strong adhesive, this giveaway is for you.

What do you win?  The Gorilla Glue Tool Box Prize Pack!  The prize pack comes in an appropriately tool-box-shaped box filled with:

Gorilla Super Glue

Gorilla Glue 2 oz. with Anti-clog Cap

Gorilla Wood Glue

Gorilla Epoxy

Gorilla Tape Handy Roll

– An awesome Gorilla Tough t-shirt!

You’re either already very excited about this giveaway or wondering what on earth you’d do with a box of fierce adhesive products.  Well, Gorilla Glue’s Facebook page is a mega sushi-go-round of incredible fan-completed projects.  From the making of the Idyllwild, CA, town monument to DIY lamp shades to The Soil Toil’s own repairing cracked clay pots, this is one Facebook page to like for inspiration and wows.

Oh, and Gorilla Glue Facebook page features key info like the Removing Gorilla Glue From Skin video (an ounce of prevention: wearing latex gloves) and the Choose Your Glue Guide.

So, how does this Gorilla Glue giveaway work?


1.  Starting this Monday, June 11th, I will publish one post a day featuring a different Gorilla Glue product from the Prize Pack.  The final post will be Friday, June 15th.

2. You have FIVE chances to win because we have FIVE Gorilla Glue Prize Packs to give away!  (To be fair, once you win, you will not be eligible to win a second Prize Pack.)

3.  To enter, simply leave a comment on that day’s post.  Share what project you have in need of that post’s featured Gorilla Tough item or testify to Gorilla Glue awesomeness by telling of completed projects with that post’s featured product.  Scroll down for links to all posts, they are added as they are published.

4.  If you blog, tweet, pin, tumblr, Facebook, G+ or stumbleUpon, feel free to leave your site or social media handle in your comment and share the Gorilla Glue contest throughout your networks.

5.  For each particular post, a winner will be chosen at random from the comments.  The winner will be chosen and announced two days after each post debuts.  For example, the winner from the comments on Monday’s post will be chosen and announced Wednesday 8:00 am EST, the winner from the comments on Tuesday’s post will be chosen and announced Thursday 8:00 am EST, etc.  The final winner, from the comments on Friday’s post, will be chosen and announced Sunday 8:00 am EST.

6.  This post (the one you are reading right now) will be updated with links to each new giveaway post every day and feature a link to each winner’s blog and/or social media page (if the winner prefers).

7.  Choose your follow format from Facebook, Twitter, tumblr and Pinterest to keep abreast of The Soil Toil Great Gorilla Glue Giveaway.

I can’t wait to start the giveaway and spread a little Gorilla Tough love throughout the gardensphere!

Post #1: Gorilla Glue Giveaway – Fix That Table with Gorilla Super Glue (Monday 6/11/2012)

Winner #1 Announced: Jim Erb!  

Post #2: Gorilla Glue Giveaway – Patch that Trashed Plastic Pot with Gorilla Tape (Tuesday 6/12/2012)

Winner #2 Announced: Amy Bounds!

Post #3: Gorilla Glue Giveaway – Re-Seat those Wooden Chair Slats with Gorilla Wood Glue (Wednesday 6/13/2012)

Winner #3 Announced: Jeavonna Chapman!

Post #4: Gorilla Glue Giveaway – Converting the Cold Frame to A Summer Grow Box with Gorilla Glue (Thursday 6/14/2012)

Winner #4 Announced: Melissa M!

Post #5 (Final Post):  Gorilla Glue Giveaway – New Plant Markers from Old Items with Gorilla Epoxy (Friday 6/15/2012)

Winner #5 Announced: Betty!

After a slight assist they release easily

Herbs – Divide and Conquer

WARNING: This is not a how to.  This is a what I did.

I have never before divided old plants.  My timidness on the practice explains why my herb box has gone five years without splitting up the overgrown chives and thyme.

For real advice on dividing plants, start with Fine Gardening’s 10 Tips for Dividing Perennial Plants.  If you’re looking to create more plants from cuttings, see Gayla Trail’s guest post on Apartment Therapy.

I read a few google results on dividing thyme and chives and went for it.  I also divided my old Golden sage but, it turns out, that was probably a waste of time.  I didn’t even take pictures since it just felt wrong how I cut it in half.  The leaves were tiny and bland last summer, about a year after I should have replaced it.  I have a robust Berggarten sage starting its second season and can live without the spent Golden.

Really, I should pull out the divided Golden sage to allow more room for the two flagrant cat-lady additions: pineapple sage and lemon thyme!  (Though, my impulse-buy pineapple sage might get too large for my herb box, it would be lovely to see it bloom just outside our screen door.)

I created the new (second) herb box for a friend, she’ll receive it in a few weeks once I’m sure the inhabitants recovered from surgery.

If these herbs survive my dividing, I will have conquered one more proper maintenance item.

My Chives and Thyme very happy together

Grow It – Urbanites Make Perfect Herbanites


It’s garden center time, farmer’s market time, spring time – are you growing herbs yet?

“Herbs are easy” reaches mantra status as new gardeners ask gardening friends what they should grow.

Herbs are easy for us city folks because they don’t require a trip to the burbs to get started. Every retailer remotely qualified to sell them has displays at the entrance: hardware stores, grocery stores, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, farmer’s markets, and of course, actual garden centers and home improvement stores. You can get a few herbs, a container(s) for them and a small bag of potting mix and lug it home on your bike, the bus or your feet. No car required. (If garden centers aren’t your thing, Target has everything you need except the herbs.)

Instead of my own Top 10 Herb List, see Apartment Therapy’s 10 Best & Easiest to Grow Herbs, I really can’t improve upon theirs.

Instead, here’s my

Why Herbs are Awesome for Every Gardener List:

1. They’re Cheap: Herb seedlings cost about the same as a plastic pack of cut culinary herbs at the grocery store. Even after you buy a container and potting soil, they pay for themselves quickly.

2. Pests Don’t Bother: Herbs are not indestructible but they just don’t attract as many destructive insects as vegetables.

3. Compact: Common culinary herbs do well both in containers and in the ground. For tiny city yards or two-person balconies, you can trim them to fit your space as they grow.

4. They Love Company: Most herbs grow great in containers with buddies. Check companion planting lists to see which herbs do well paired with other herbs, flowers and vegetables.

5. Easy to Preserve: Freeze them, dry them, put them in oil, mix with butter, make herb vinegars – no special equipment required.

6. Easy to Give: Friends sending me home with baggies of fresh-cut herbs is the number one reason I now grow them. So fresh! So awesome!

7. You’ll Cook Tastier Food: Want to turn scrambled eggs into amazing eggs? Chop a few basil leaves and add with garlic to the hot pan before pouring in your scrambled eggs. Turn grilled cheese into grilled fantastic by laying a few rosemary leaves under the bread in the skillet. Fancy. Easy. Fast.

8. High in Vitamins: Add a few flat leaf parsley leaves and chives to your sandwich and you just ate Vitamin C!

9. There’s Nothing to Rot on the Vine: When veggies are ready to harvest it’s go time.  That’s great, but it’s summer! You have beaches to hit, BBQs to attend, roof decks to drink on, trips to take and music festivals to recover from!  Set your herbs up with a little self-waterer and go enjoy summer!  Once established, they’re ready to harvest when you need them, not when they say so.

10. You’ll Want More: Herbs are the gateway drug to gardening.

Speaking of drugs, here’s a very short intro to herb healing properties.

If you’ve had your herbs for a few years and think perhaps they need a little attention this spring, The Herb Guide rounds up a few common herb maintenance items.

My herb box begs for a division session. It works out, I want to give a friend an herb box. Once divided and on their feet again, she’ll have what I have, only at her place.

You should have herbs at your place.

Cut sponge "paintbrush" in action

DIY – Dying Easter Eggs Last Minute from Scratch

I never made it to Target this week to buy egg dye.

Every Easter as a kid, mom and I would be dying our brown eggs from our chickens with the Paas and she would say that, in a pinch, food coloring with water and vinegar would get the job done.

I’m in a pinch.

Thursday I found a nice round-up of dies from kitchen staples. DYI dye is the new black.

Seems adding two tablespoons white vinegar to just about anything will turn it into dye.

I could not fathom using good blueberries (fresh or frozen) for dye so I sent a note a few neighbors asking if anyone had old frozen blueberry dregs. A quarter bag turned up – perfect.

I rummaged through the fridge and pulled out remnants of late-summer pickled purple slaw and quick-pickled beets from last fall – both perfect for egg dying.

I mixed up some turmeric (using half for eggs is a good excuse to replace it in a few months so to keep it fresh).

I dumped our espresso grounds into some hot water and added vinegar.

I poured a cup of cranberry juice and added vinegar.

I squirted green food coloring into about a cup of water. Added vinegar.

We dyed brown eggs.

Dyed brown eggs look like old Polaroids. To drive his point home, I gathered all my Hipstamatic shots from this morning to make this all even more washed out. If Hipstamatic drives you nuts, you can experience our egg dying morning here without any photo effects.

If you want cute pastels – use white eggs. Period.

If you just want to dye eggs, use whatever eggs you prefer.

Some Notes for Dying with Toddlers:

1. They aren’t good at waiting. It isn’t fun. Watching eggs sit in dye isn’t fun. Dying eggs is fun.

2. Make it active by adding paint brushes, small cut up rags or sponges cut into small pieces. (How small? If your kid puts everything in their mouth, don’t cut them down to choking size. Duplo block size is great.) Have enough “brushes” so each dye can have a few of its own to reduce (or at least delay) crossing the colors.

3. You just made dye, which is basically watery paint, or watercolors. Gather some scrap cardboard, cut into single smallish pieces (cereal boxes, internet shopping boxes, shoe boxes) or brown paper and “paint” a few pictures while eggs sit in dye. We made “Easter cards.”

4. Keep it moving. Everything should be within your reach but doesn’t need to be within toddler reach. Eggs that are done dying get whisked away from the dye to dry. You can always bring some eggs back for a second dip (or third or fourth).

5. A toddler holding something is happy. Those cut up sponges are wildly satisfying – let them squish and play. A few crayons are great. The toddler(s) can color with crayons on an egg while you move a few things along (or eggs steep). The dye doesn’t stick to the crayon wax so it’s added decoration (and good for busy hands).

6. If you like things orderly, let them manage one or two dyes at a time by placing them close and the others just out of reach. Give them a task with the dye at hand, “Keep painting it! Looking good! Roll it around in the dye!” Take advantage of a toddler’s infinite capacity to repeat an action.

7. Wear old clothes – you and the kids. A smock will be useless against homemade egg dye. I wore old painting jeans and showed Bunny how it was OK to get dye on them. She wore old hand-me-downs.

9. Do it outside if possible.

10. You are doing this with a toddler/preschooler – it does not matter if the eggs come out a mess. They will love it and the Easter Bunny will still hide them.

What Worked/Failed for Dying Brown Eggs:

1. Blueberries!!! The blueberries were a frozen block when I thudded them into the saucepan. I probably had 1.5 – 2 cups and I added about a cup of water. I heated it to melt the frozen block them simmered for a bit. I “strained” it lazily with a wooden spatula then added the vinegar. This was THE most fun dye, really inky and effective. It dyed purpleish. (Elderberries would have been pure inky magic but I couldn’t imagine parting with my frozen ones for egg dye.)

2. Juice from old pickled red cabbage and juice from pickled beets – worked well. Pinkish.

3. Green food coloring – ace.

4. Turmeric. I mixed 2 TBS to 1 cup boiling water and made brilliant yellow muddy paint. It was super fun but didn’t really tint the brown eggs. I have no idea why it wasn’t very effective. It was worth doing just for the fun use of it.

5. Spent espresso grounds added to hot water and vinegar- lame. I was too hurried to brew super strong coffee and add vinegar.

6. Cran-Apple juice with added vinegar – lame. Grape juice would have worked great.

I loved this whole thing. It was super hands-on, it was perfectly messy outside and it pretty much just cost me the eggs since I scavenged the dye makings.You can even make the dyes a few days ahead.

Oh, wait, you can’t. Tomorrow’s Easter!

Even if you just make food coloring dye, it’s fun and you can make more when it gets knocked over.

Post-publishing Additional Notes on DIY  Dying BrownEggs:

If you don’t have time to mess around, have never made your own dye and want eggs that look dyed and not just different shades of brown, then skip the make-it-yourself yellows, oranges and browns.  Head straight for making blues, purples, greens, reds and pinks. 

It’s not that brown eggs won’t take yellow, orange or brown dye (they do!), it’s just they’re kind of already that color.  If you try red, purple, blue, green, pink and your dye isn’t very effective, it will still give some color to those brown eggs and your efforts won’t be all for not.

For serious ideas on really going for gold on egg dying, the Kitchn kills it and she’s included in Apartment Therapy’s rounds up with an additional four to dye for.  Naturally.

DIY – Seed Starting – Step One [LOST POST]

I wrote this post two months ago (January 26).  I looked it up to add a link to tomorrow’s post and, what do you know, I never posted it.


This spring all out of whack, everything is blooming a few weeks early with the steady warm weather, but I’ve pegged mid-April as DC’s date of last frost.  That’s based on a few internet searches, not gardening experience.  I usually run out in late May and buy a slew of young plants at the garden center, this is my first year aggressively starting my own seeds in spring.

The post is still relevant so here you go.   Happy seed planning!

STEP 1:  Find a seed source: local hardware store, garden center, online seed swap, local seed exchange, neighbors, online retailer, etc.

I chose Southern Exposure Seed Exchange because they are in the same plant hardiness zone as I and have an amazing selection of Southern heirlooms at good prices.  They promote seed saving and traditional plant breeding to counter the loss of crop diversity.

STEP 2:  Loose your inhibitions and imagine yourself growing more than you could possibly ever know what to do with.

STEP 3:  Now actually read the seed package or catalog guide to see what veggies/flowers/herbs might suit your situation.  The Living Garden has a great how-to on choosing seeds.

STEP 4:  Choose your seeds.  (Buy, barter, order or swap.)

STEP 5:  Make a chart or mark a calendar plotting when to start the variety of seeds you’ve chosen.  All the information you need is in the catalog and/or on the seed packet.  And there’s always the internet.

DIY – Accidental Rooting


If this were a DIY, it would go like this:


1.  It’s spring, give your established and unruly rosemary bush an aggressive pruning.

2.  Admire your work.  Appreciate your lush and bushy rosemary that you barely tend except when you run out to clip sprigs for cooking.

3.  Gather what you sheared off and abandon most of it because it’s tough and woody.

4.  But you can’t really abandon all that good rosemary.  Select a few of the tender branches and trim 8 – 12 inches of the tips and take to your kitchen.

5.  Brag about it on your tumblr because growing stuff is awesome and you’ve stopped pestering your facebook friends about cooking with all the awesome stuff you grow.

6.  Strip the bottom inch or two of leaves and stick the sprigs in a vase or bottle with water.  Place away from the harsh afternoon sun.

7.  Continue to pinch off leaves as you need them for a week or two.

8.  Change the water and notice WHOA – THEY ROOTED!!!

9.  Take exciting iPhone pictures and brag about this miracle of accidentalness on tumblr as well.

10.  Consult the internet if you would like to actually turn these rooted cuttings into more plants for your garden (or gifts for friends).

This is great.  It turns out that by me stripping the bottom leaves so they fit into their glass bottle, and then pinching the top leaves for cooking, I accidentally did exactly what is needed for rooting.

The scratchy patches of weeds near our front door would love to host a few rosemary bushes.  The neighbors and I have been wanting to reclaim that sidewalk area and now we’ll have some anchoring rosemary to accidentally kick it off.

Starting from Scratch – What’s in a Gardening Bag

You don’t need a lot of special tools for container gardening and light in-ground gardening.  Last year my small daily gardening bag had what I needed for nearly every job.  I had a second small bag for fertilizer (fish emulsion) and Bt powder (caterpillar control) which only gets used every few weeks.

When you live in the city and your balcony is exposed to the elements (aren’t they all?) or your backyard gate can’t be locked, keep your gardening tools inside so they are protected from the weather (they last longer) and don’t get stolen.  A gardening bag keeps them in one place, reduces clutter, and keeps any dirt from your toils inside the bag and not loose in your home.

If it’s an attractive gardening bag, then you can hang it from a hook or set on an open shelf and have one less thing taking up valuable real estate in your limited storage space!  Bonus.

I was cleaning out my daily gardening bag and thought I should pick a few up as gifts to friends since they were $2/pair when I got mine.  Looking online, sadly, IKEA no longer sells them.  Bummer.  Seeing what IKEA Hacker has done with them made this news even worse.

So much for “DIY – The Perfect Gardening Bag for Starting Your Container Garden.”  This is more of a “Winging It – Navigating Home Depot” for buying as little as possible.  Here is what’s in my bag and perhaps should be in yours, especially if your local garden center both excites and frightens you with large displays of specialty tools:

The Lineup - Daily Use

If your container roster is all herbs and flowers –

1.  Gardening shears/scissors (harvesting herbs/flowers and trimming plants)

2.  Trowel* (mine is technically a transplant trowel which is narrower with a pointier nose – I only wanted one and this has proved to be multi-purpose)

3.  Close-fitting gardening gloves (it is so much easier to get the dirt out from under your fingernails when it never gets there in the first place, plus you can just pull them off to quickly answer your phone or tend to a small child)

If your garden roster includes veggies or other plants that need caging/staking/trellising, add the following –

4.  Plant ties or Velcro gardening tape (you can buy long gardening twist-ties  but the Velcro gardening tape is pure magic, you cut what you need, re-use it for years and it is very multipurpose)

5.  Gardening wire (I trained some vines with this but could do without it, actually)

6.  Wire snips if you need the wire

If you garden in the ground (yard/tree box along the sidewalk/raised beds), consider adding –

7.  A weed tool (these come in a variety of formats but it’s basically a little crowbar for pulling weeds – this thing makes your weed pulling every effective and efficient since it gets down and gets the roots up with an easy motion)

8.  Sturdy gloves (perfect for spreading mulch, setting pavers, laying gravel, moving lumber, and preventing blisters from prolonged shovel/hoe/pick axe/rake use)

Miscellaneous but  very handy –

9.  Insect repellent (Herbal Armor works well for being inexpensive and widely available)

10.  Gorilla Glue and/or super glue for repairing pots (generic dental floss works perfectly for tying a pot together while the glue sets)

11.  Sidewalk chalk (I garden with a two-year-old, bubbles are a mess compared to sidewalk chalk)

12.  (Not pictured) An old hand towel (not only for wiping your hands but also for wiping down your tools when done for the day)

*A note on hand tools: If you buy a tool brand new, spend a few extra bucks for the stainless steel tool.  Period.  The plastic ones break and the metal non-stainless ones rust immediately.  The packaging will clearly state “stainless steel.”

Garage sales, craigslist, freecycle and thrift stores are all excellent sources for all manor of garden tools (and containers).  Sometimes you just want to go to the store, get what you need and come home.  If you’re on a budget or live in a small place, buy garden items as you need them, not as you see them.