I use a mixture of gesso and Redi-Filler an all purpose drywall filler for many of my paintings on wood. 3-1 part redi-filler to gesso. I learned this from an art teacher. After, it's completely dry, I sand it down, apply a layer of matte medium, then ready to paint. It's never cracked on me;-)
Shed Plans - great idea to shelter wood and tools from the direct rain (though dont store wood up against the house as it can harbor termites) Now You Can Build ANY Shed In A Weekend Even If You've Zero Woodworking Experience!
There is no doubt, if you have a garden you must know it is the perfect place for enjoying the sun, breeze and green in your home. Garden is amazingly great place to relax and rest after a busy day. So this time you should spend more time on the garden.