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Country Lore

Readers’ tips on making hand brooms, sheep scales, and growing plants in gutters.

| June/July 2020

 hand-brooms
Photo by Fala Burnette

A Handy Broom

Brooms can be made from a variety of materials, such as broomcorn sorghum, straw, and plastic. A full-sized broom can help keep a home clean and tidy, but what about the often overlooked hand broom? These miniature brooms can clean small messes, such as ash around a fireplace or sawdust in a workshop. Dual-purpose hand brooms can be made easily from collected pine needles, and they’re not only functional, but decorative as well!

Only three things are needed to make these hand brooms: pine needles, scissors, and twine. Alternating the color of your twine to your liking for a personal touch is a great idea, but for this example, I’ve used a basic tan jute twine made from natural fibers.

Collect. Pine tree species vary across the world, but my area commonly hosts the loblolly and longleaf pines. You’ll need to collect needle clusters at least 8 inches long for this project. (The Virginia pine has a short needle length of 1 to 3 inches, which would be unsuitable.) Dried needles are easy to collect with a rake from the area surrounding your trees, especially during fall. For green needles, if you know someone who’s harvesting pines for lumber, you may be able to collect them then. The responsible method is to simply check under the trees after a good wind. Clusters of green needles not strong enough to withstand strong breezes are easy to find. You’ll have to strip the needles from the branch if they’re still attached.



Organize. You’ll want the needles to be in small groups still attached by the fascicle sheath at the base. Loose, singular needles are more likely to fall out of the broom. Face all your needles in the same direction, and line up the base of the needles evenly. Holding the needles together, pack them into the palm of your hand so all of them are even at the base. This will allow for all the clusters to be wrapped tightly together, which will prevent pieces from falling out, while also giving the broom a cleaner look.

hand-broom-stem
Photo by Fala Burnette





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