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My shoe garden has been going strong for several years now, with great luck here in the New England climate. I have quite a varied collection of castaways, ranging from tiny baby shoes, men’s sandals, work boots, rubber garden shoes, and even fishermen’s boots strung up on a nearby tree. I use concrete blocks and old boards to display them in tiers, for better viewing. Gather the following supplies to make your own: ¬ Shoes and boots from family members or friends of all ages, or the local thrift shop. I prefer a sturdy well constructed shoe or rubber boot, and I try to coordinate them so they look nice together. ¬ Drill and medium sized bit (or hammer and nail) ¬ Scissors ¬ Small pea sized gravel for drainage ¬ A mix of potting soil, peat moss, and sand ¬ Small succulents, hens and chicks, curly chives all work well for me Shoes of all materials will work, but I prefer leather or vinyl because they last longer. Prepare the shoes by drilling several holes in the sole, and perhaps a hole or two at the bottom of the sides. Proper drainage is essential, for both your plants and for the life of the shoe. You may also wish to cut a hole or two through the toe or sides for additional plants, although this is difficult for thick leather. Try not to cut on the seams.
I try to do each set a little differently, some with shoelaces intact, some without shoelaces, some with tongues pushed inside and plants growing through the laces, some planted between the laces and tongues. Add some gravel to the bottom of the shoe, especially down near the toe section. Fill with a mix of potting soil, sand, and peat moss, using equal amounts of each. Plant with the suggested plant materials, using only a few small plants per shoe. You may embellish around the plantings with pea sized gravel and perhaps a small bird or garden snail ornamental. Mine have grown a bit mossy over the years, without any additional treatment, and I adore them that way! You may paint yours with a watered down solution of buttermilk or yogurt, and rub with soil, to help speed up the process. Trim and thin the plants as necessary, using the castoffs for more planters! Do NOT overwater, and in periods of heavy precipitation it’s best to tip them to the side for drainage. You may fertilize them a few times during the growing season. I leave mine out all winter, tipped to their sides for drainage. I also let many of the fallen leaves cover them for protection. I hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did, and may you too become the old soles depository! Prim blessings, Denise Davis www.sassafrashill.com