How to Make Vegetable Garden Markers Yourself

If you have an mechanically ambitious and somewhat artistically inclined child, making vegetable garden markers could be a good—and even profitable—project for them.

| May/June 1981

My mother is a fanatic gardener, so whenever we children are trying to decide on a gift for her, we always know that she'll be happy to get something to use in her garden. (Grandpa even gave her a truckload of manure one year, and Mom said it was about the best gift she could have received.) 

So, when I was five, I decided to make a large wooden tulip to decorate one of Mom's rows. With my dad's help, I built it, painted it, and fastened a stake to it. I told my mother the tulip would keep the bugs out of our sweet corn. It didn't exactly do that, but it did give me the idea to make whole sets of vegetable garden markers.

My creations are larger-than-life-sized, colorful wooden vegetable shapes. The markers are attached to stakes and placed in the garden to identify the spring plantings. (And, to make the gardeners smile, I paint happy faces on each vegetable-shaped sign.)

I made my first set of six markers for Mother's Day four years ago. Mom was so thrilled by the present that I painted her a different set the next year.

When one of our neighbors saw my smiling vegetables, she wanted some for her own garden. I made her a set, and she gave me $16. Before I knew it, everyone wanted markers, and the rush was on. It seemed like the more sets I made, the more I sold. As a matter of fact, by last year I'd gotten so bored—with all the sanding and priming work involved—that I didn't make any markers at all!

This year, though, I'm cutting out vegetables again. I guess I'll be doing it for quite a while, too, because I'm using the money I make to pay back half of the cost of my wonderful new seven-year-old Morgan gelding, Croix. I'm working on eight batches now (these days I sell each set for $25). When I finish those, I can get started on the other three sets that have already been ordered. And I know I'll be able to sell some more vegetable row markers at our local farmers' market.

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