DIY Potting Bench in an Hour for Under $5

Potting Bench Header

As I am sure almost everyone out there knows from experience, it is hard to keep going when your back hurts. And even if you force yourself to keep going, at the end of the day it is hard to have a smile on your face and even harder to sleep. So, I am hugely in favor of creating work spaces that are back savers. If that can be done quickly and at little cost, then that is even better.

After one sleepless, painful evening following one full day of bending over transplanting, I had a greenhouse full of beautiful plants and the determination to not do that again. As it was in the spring, with loads more plants to transplant, I needed a quick (and painfree) solution.

So – you guessed it – I headed to my pile of pallets. As you know, I use those babies for everything.  Such a beautiful solution for so many things. I found a pallet that was (dimensions here).  Wow – that would be awesome space for a potting bench, I decided.  The slats were nicely spaced apart so pots could be set on it. No adjustments or additions to the slates needed.

The Pallet for the Potting Bench
Making the bench was easy as pie. I cut four 2×4 boards 32″ long. Then I used two 3- 1/2 star-headed screws to attach each leg at the corner. From previous work on greenhouse benches, I knew I had to attach a cross brace on the legs to stabilize the bench and I did so using scraps I had in my lumber pile.  I wanted to make things even easier, and since I made the potting bench lickety split, I decided to make a smaller one to put pots and supplies on. Now I can plant and transplant and work with plants all day long and my back is happy.

Potting bench
While this bench is in a temporary location, it will find a permanent home when things slow down. I will probably seal it so that it lasts longer, but for now, I am loving every sitting down moment with the plants and my potting bench.

I had spare 2x4s that I used for the legs, but if you had to buy the wood, it would cost around $5.00-10.00 depending on the type that you get.  The screws are about a dime each.  I used 16, so that would have been a total cost of $ 1.60 for the bench. Even if  you had to buy the screws and the 2×4 lumber, the cost of the potting bench would be less that $10.00. What a back saving deal that would be!!!

I hope this encourages you to come up with solutions that will make your life more enjoyable and your gardening less painful. You don’t have to build something complicated, expensive and time consuming. Problem solving can be as simple as slapping four legs on a pallet for a new potting bench. If you want to take the time to paint it – then by all means, do so. But, look for solutions that will allow you to re-use and re-cyle. It makes for a better life, better world.  Let me know what exciting solutions you have come up with re-using and re-cycling. And, if you make a potting bench, let me know how much you love it!

As always, be sure to use pallets that are safe for you and your environment. If you are not sure how to make sure your pallets are safe, this post is short and very clear.  In a nutshell, look for pallets that have the “HT,” heat-treated label.

Why You Should Save Buckets of Money by Propagating Your Plants

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Gardening and landscaping can be incredibly satisfying, but if you aren’t careful, it can also be incredibly expensive. If you learn how to propagate your own plants, however, it can not only be fulfilling but also save you buckets of money. You can further save money by growing your own plants from seeds, but that will be covered in another post.  One of the best times to propagate is in the spring since plants grow incredibly fast and you will feel accomplished in a very short period of time.

This is the first year I have been really focused on growing perennials but growing them can be quite expensive. When I found out I could have loads of plants basically for free by propagating plants I already have growing in the yard, I enthusiastically started propagating.  Many of the fast growing perennials will be large and very showy once spring is in full force so I have propagated, propagated, propagated like crazy.  It is s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o fun to look at all the new plants you have growing just propagating the plants in your yard.  It is even more fun to start adding up all the money you did NOT spend on all those plants.

The trumpet plants (brugmansia) below are an example of plants I began propagating in the fall before the first frost. Just a few months later,  they really took off.

Trumpet Plants

How Propagating from Cuttings Increases Your Plant Population
Propagating from cuttings is probably one of the easiest ways to propagate and most perennials can be easily propagated this way. Once you start propagating from your yard, the good thing is that you can start to share – and grow your plant population even more (pun intended).  For example, just this morning, I took two yellow trumpet plants I had propagated to my chiropractor. In return, he is giving me a plant he ordered from a trip to South America.  The plant he is giving me is not only pretty but I can make a delicious and very healthy green drink from its leaves. Win, win, WIN.  Another friend is going to order a tri-color trumpet plant and I am going to order a double leaf lavender and a pink one.  Guess what we are going to do – that’s right.  Propagate and trade!!!

So how difficult is this propagating, you ask.  Well, not difficult at all.  I will admit that I used to believe three incorrect things about propagating. First, I thought I couldn’t do it.  Me, a brown thumb – no sir – not me. They will just die!!!  Second, I thought it would take FOREVER for the plants to get big enough to even see.  OK – I am exaggerating a little there – but you get the idea – too long to get big, so I would be better off just spending the money to buy a big plant in a pot.  And third, I thought I had to spend a bunch of money on specialized equipment to propagate.  ALL my beliefs – ARE WRONG.

Salvia, Tomatoes and Mexican Sage

The photo above shows the plants I propagated this fall from cuttings off of the “mama” plants (and a few tomatoes grown from store-bought tomatoes).  Part of the trick is not being afraid to try. Another part is to propagate many, many cuttings and realize, that even if a bunch die, you will (almost) always have some that live. Keep in mind, also, if a bunch of cuttings do die, you haven’t spent/wasted a lot of money. You can always re-use the soil or mix it into your compost pile.  The cuttings that did not take (died) can also be a contributor to your compost pile.  And you can try again.  The good thing is, that the more you do it, the better you get and the higher success rate you have.

Yes, it is sad when some plants die.  But that is okay, because some or many will live, too. Remember, focus on the ones that live.

Non-survivors

I also suggest starting with plants that are easy to propagate. You can find which plants are easier to propagate by visiting university agricultural websites. Two great sites are the Texas A & M Agriculture Extension site and the University of Georgia Extension site, both of which contain vast information on all things green. I also highly suggest Dave’s Garden for information on almost any plant in the universe. They have articles and videos on many, many other garden topics as well.

You can also find “easy to propagate” plants by talking to your friends who now propagate. This is where being a member of your local Master Gardeners organization can be beneficial. Also, you can talk to others in your area of the country (and believe me, it matters where you live as far as propagating goes) and find out what is easy to grow there.  You might even be able to use cuttings from the Master Gardener demo gardens (ask first!), your friends’ gardens, or even a plant you see on a country road to further expand your plant supply.  Having said this, start off your adventure propagating “easy” plants and once you have a few successes under your belt, try some of the more challenging plants to propagate.

Second, many perennials do grow fast – some very fast. So in a matter of months, you can have a nice sized bush or vine that will continue to grow bigger each year from a tiny cutting that began in a 3” pot. For example, here are the trumpet plants that I propagated in the fall.  It is still in the early spring and they have grown!  You can imagine how large these will be by the end of the summer.

So, to encourage your propagating endeavors, be sure to research information on which perennials grow quickly and which take longer to grow.

Third, no expensive and special equipment is required. Generally, propagating a perennial requires scissors or pruners, rooting hormone, pots and potting soil, a small plastic cup or paper plate, plastic bags or plastic wrap. Most of these materials are readily available to anyone already gardening. The tooting hormone can be purchased online or at a garden center for very little money.

So, is it really worth the trouble, you ask? Well, on the left below, a little brugmansia plant was given to me. I planted it in the yard and it grew all summer. Then, in the fall before the first frost, I made cuttings. And all those beautiful plants on the left were propagated – from what started as one little plant. They will be one of my contributions to the local Master Gardener plant sale. Yes, it is worth it!

Brugmansia and cat

For more details on how to propagate, go to this post or view this step-by-step picture tutorial on how to propagate. While propagating can sound very scary at first, I encourage you to jump in there and try.  If you try, you will succeed! It is that easy!  Propagating can be very cost efficient for those who want more in their garden/landscaping and don’t want to spend a lot of money. And it is incredibly rewarding (and addictive).  Like the old Nike commercial said, “Just do it!” And let me hear about your successes.

Arch Trellis for Cukes, Melons, and Squash

Trellises are really critical in gardening if you want to grow up.  As discussed on a prior post, there are several reasons for growing up. One is the space saving aspect of growing up instead of growing horizontally.  In the same space, if you garden vertically, you can often harvest several times as much as you can spreading out. So, for those who are tight on space, vertical gardening is the way to go.  For those who live in the country and are subject to visits by wildlife, you can use trellises to keep your veggies away from those wild things looking for an easy snack – like your delicious cucumbers. And, for those not especially fond of reptiles, you can avoid reaching down for a cucumber and coming up with a wiggling snake. Sooooo, if you are gardening, consider growing up for your veggies and fruits.

We decided that growing up made sense for cukes, beans, and melons. So, we built an arch trellis that was patterned after the one on this post.  While we liked the trellis a great deal, we made some changes to the design, some of them mid-way through building the arch.  You can go here to see the original idea.  I will discuss the changes that we made in this post.

MAKING THE AREA LEVEL FOR RAISED BED FRAME
Our land slopes down and we wanted our trellis with raised beds to be level. So, we had to dig out ground at one end to make sure the frame was level at the other end.  Or relatively so.  Since we have red clay that can be really hard to dig and an abundance of iron ore rocks sprinkled throughout the soil and we were making several raised beds, at the end of the project, we decided being off by 1/4 inch was indeed A-OK.  In the photo below, the first bed is done with a 2x6x12 box stacked on a 2x8x12 box.

First Bed

We decided to make the boxes 12 feet long x 24 inches wide. The two cattle panels will take up 8 feet with a 4×2 foot section at the ends of the bed that will be open (with no trellis). Rationale:  I wanted to have a little extra space at the end of the beds to plant non-climbing vegetables. Since we were building raised beds anyway, I decided to give us the extra growing space in the arch-bed rather than building a separate raised bed. In addition to the extra four feet at the end of the raised bed, we built the frames 24″ wide rather than the 12″ wide used in the example. The climbing veggies will be planted in a one foot space closest to the trellis. This gives us an additional 1×8 foot section on each box for planting non-climbers. Don’t know if this will work – time will tell.

Once we built the beds and dug the spaces for both raised beds, we attempted to put up the cattle panels. This is the second BIG change we made from the example arch trellis. Thirty six inches was just not enough space between the two frame boxes.

Frames with Cattle Panel

If you look at the photo above, notice how small the space is between boxes.  Too close. In fact, when we put the panel in place, I noted that only a giant could reach to the top of the arch to pick veggies because the arch was so high. In addition it kinda bowed out on the sides so it looked like a giant pear sitting on the frame. The arch that looked best was actually how the panel is placed in the photo above. Notice that the box needs to be moved to achieve that arch.  Soooooooo, “we” decided to spread the boxes an additional two feet apart, so instead of a three foot spread, we would have a five foot spread.  This will make it much easier to reach the top to pick veggies and fruits and gives more space in between to walk comfortably. Or sit inside and read a book, I think. Hubby was sooooo pleasant about this little change, moved the box over and dug some more.  Not only did the sides have to be dug, but we had to dig out the inside of the box to get rid of Bermuda grass before planting. Yes, we could have used Round-up but we like to avoid using as many chemicals as we can. So – I really appreciated his willingness to move the box!!!!

Cattle Panel Stapled

Once the boxes were in place, we lifted the first cattle panel and placed it against the outside of the box on the right placing it on the ground. We secured the cattle panel on the right box with eight-1 1/2″ cattle panel staples. Next, we grabbed the other end of the cattle panel and placed it against the outside of the box on the left and secured it with another eight staples. Perfect arch!!!!

We did the same thing with the second cattle panel.  Hubby very nicely wired the two panels together for a more secure arch. The arch trellis beds are ready for action.  I filled them with soil from the forest out back and topped them off with compost and then straw and the plants are happy in their new home.  I can hardly wait to see the arch filling out.

Arch Planted

Materials needed for this project:

4 – 2x6x12  treated pine (We actually got the 16′ boards, but we are going to be using it on other projects. If there is no difference in price and you don’t want the extra boards laying around, go for the 12′ boards.)

1 – 2x6x8 treated pine (cut into four  2′ sections for the ends of the boxes)

4 – 2x8x12 treated pine (Same as above)

1 – 2x8x8 treated pine (cut into four  2′ sections for the ends of the boxes)

2 – 4’x16′ cattle panels (I accidentally called them hog panels and the cashier at Tractor Supply promptly corrected me.)

1 – 2x4x8 treated pine – for bracing the sides (we actually used scraps we had on hand – if you don’t have those you will have to buy this)

3 1/2″ exterior star-headed screws

32 – 1  1/2″ cattle panel staples

Tools needed:
Impact driver
Saw (of some type)
Hammer (for staples)
Shovel (if you have land that slopes and want a level raised bed or just want to make sure your raised bed is perfectly level)
Level (if you have land that slopes and want a level raised bed or just want to make sure your raised bed is perfectly level)

 

Three Section 10′ x 33″ Compost Bin for Next to Nothing

Completed Compost Bins

Compost bins can be beneficial in so many ways for your health and the health of the world. I looked at all the models out there, and most were too expensive for me to justify purchasing. But, the plans all looked pretty similar. I mean, basically compost bins are boxes – right? And a highly functional one is three compartments so that you can more easily turn the composting piles regularly.

The compost bins basically look like the below diagram:

Compost Bin Diagram
Now, what does this diagram remind you of?  Yep, me too! It looks like seven pallets put together.  So, I went out to my trusty pallet stack and looked for seven pallets that were the same size and hauled them to my “compost pile home” and began assembling them as per the diagram above.

The pallets that I use often for projects come from an office machines company that sells those big copiers to businesses. These pallets are great because the nails are easy to get out and the wood is hard and durable. And heat treated – so they are safe to use.

Pallet

I wanted the sides of the compost bins to have more gaps to allow air into the composting materials.  So, I knocked two of the slats out.  This is where it comes in very handy to have pallets that have “easy to remove” nails.

Slats Removed for Air Circulation

I used those two slats from each pallet to secure the pallets using 2 1/2″ exterior star-headed screws and my fav Makita impact driver to attach the pallets.  The pallets were attached at the top and on the back of the pallets.

Attached Pallets

After the pallets were attached on the top and the backs, it was a very secure compost bin that should last for some time. I even use it to make my hoops out of electrical conduit – and it doesn’t even jiggle.  All told – it took me about two hours and cost less than $5.00 since my only cost was the screws.

Pallets Nailed at Back

I have been considering fixing something to go over the front – but haven’t really needed it so far. The compartments are big enough that the piles work with the front open.

Ain’t she a beaut? Does anyone out there have any other ideas for a quick and inexpensive compost bin?

Finished Compost Bin

 

DIY Raised Bed using Recycled Corrugated Roofing Material

Harvest in Raised Bed

Raised beds are quite the gardening rage these days and they are beneficial for a variety of reasons. If high enough, they can save your back from constant bending over. This can be beneficial for the elderly or those who have back issues.  The type of soil you have can dictate the necessity of raised beds. As you know, my red clay soil requires raised beds for growing fruits, veggies – and, well, anything. One thing about raised beds is that they can be expensive to build and expensive to fill.  So, always looking to save money, I am always on the hunt for cost effective (cheap) raised bed ideas. I have tried several different ways to build raised beds, and one of my favorites is the one I built using (slightly rusted) corrugated roofing that for some obscure reason was left laying around in multiple locations on our property when we bought it.

I was frustrated with it sitting all over the place and was getting ready to ask my husband to haul it off.  I had really been delaying asking because I kept thinking I could surely do something with it  – old signs, bird house roofs, ????  That’s when I ran across an interesting raised bed idea from Two Peas & Their Pod.

Spark!!!  I could do the same thing – but use the rusted corrugated roofing sitting all over the property for a very inexpensive raised bed. So, that is what I did.

If you have read other posts, you know that the area I use for planting has a pronounced slope. The first semi-raised bed that I built was not sloped and I just didn’t like all the water running to the end of the bed. Since that first bed, I have built them level – which means there is a wide variance between the front of the bed and the back.  There are several ways to do raised beds on a slope including digging down on the high end or raising the end of the bed on the low end. I chose not to dig and adjusted the depth of the boards at the corners to achieve a level bed.

The first thing that I had to do was figure out where the top board would be on the front and on the back of the raised bed. For the first step, I hammered a stake at each corner of the bed and (since it was to be a 16′ bed) and in the middle as well. Using a line level, I marked the position that would be level at each corner and in the middle.  Then, I  measured each stake. To give you an idea of our sloping land, the front side of the bed is 15.5″ and the back side is 23.25 inches.

Using 4×4 treated pine, I cut the corner and middle boards.  Using 1x4x8 treated pine, I screwed the boards at the top and the bottom of each 4×4 “leg” using two 3 1/2″ star head exterior screws on each leg. I used two 8′ sections instead of a 16′ board for two reasons. First, I was planning on making two 8′ beds – but once I  got started, I decided making one 16′ bed would save resources, ie. less wood and less wasted space between the beds. And, I really don’t have a good way to get 16′ lumber home.

Corrugated Bed Frame

You can see from the slant of the top board how much our property slopes. I used a  standard and line level multiple times as I was building the frames.  It was very frustrating, actually, but I finally got the top boards level and screwed into the legs.

Next, I used 2×4 treated lumber every two feet to support the 1×4 frames. I screwed them into the 1x4s with 2 1/2″ star head exterior screws.  I also decided to put a cross brace at 8′ because it seemed a bit wobbly. You can see one side complete below.

Side of Raised Bed

In case you are wondering, I set the side boards on top of the soil. As mentioned before, I have hard red clay soil and I don’t think the bed will sink.  My husband was a little concerned when he first saw it, but decided that we would just put some braces under the supports if it does sink. So far, it has remained true despite multiple rain events.

After completing the supports for each side, I dragged the corrugated roofing material over to the raised bed. The sheets were in varying lengths and widths.  I had to decide whether to make the ridges run vertically or horizontally.  After much deliberation, I decided to have the ridges run vertically because it seemed more cost effective and easier cutting the pieces to fit. At first, I cut the pieces to match the slope of the land, but after several pieces, I realized cutting them straight worked just as effectively and was a ton easier.

I used my circular saw to cut the roofing material using a Diablo 48-tooth Steel Demon Ferrous Metal Cutting Saw Blade.  My husband didn’t think it would work, but it cut through the roofing like butter. However, make sure you wear safety glasses and preferably a long sleeve shirt because the sparks fly!!!!!

I tried to line up the corrugated sheet to the top of the board, so I ended up having to dig down a bit in some places to align the corrugated sheet to the top of the top rail.  I secured the corrugated sheet metal to the 1×4 frames with #9 x 1″ fine steel hex-head roofing screws and my fav impact driver.  The hex head made it easy to “grip” the screw as it went through the roofing. Even though they said the hex screws are self-drilling, I found it easier to pre-drill a hole first since the corrugated roofing was super thick – must have been industrial grade.

Once all the roofing was in, I decided it would be nice to be able to sit down and work in the bed, so I used 5/4 deck boards along the top.

Raised Bed with Corrugated Steel
And there she is, ready to be filled with soil. Lots of soil. She isn’t shiny and new, but using materials that I had on hand, I was able to inexpensively build a 4’x16′ raised bed for 64 square feet of gardening. And, I think it has a lot of personality – a statement that I like to re-use and re-style to save money and save resources. And, as you can see at the top of the post, the raised bed was finished and filled in time to get a nice spring harvest.

What do you  have laying around that can be used in a different way? What can you re-use to save yourself money and the world resources.  Shiny and new is not always better and I urge you to look for creative ways to renovate the past.  Let me hear from you!!!!

 

Ten Functional & Funky DIY Trellises for Your Garden

Title Photo

An important part of veggie gardening is figuring out how to get those climbing veggies to go up instead of out.   AKA vertical gardening, using trellises takes your veggies up and gives you more fruit and veggies in a smaller space. If you live in the country, growing your fruits and veggies up also makes it less likely to run into a snake as you are digging through the vegetation to pick fruit.  So you definitely want to find some way to go up. Your veggies will love you and you will love them (after you eat those yummy gifts from the garden).

There are many choices out there that you can buy, but as always, I like to look at recycling, reusing and building as inexpensively as possible. Some of the trellises below use new materials – but you can find much of this material used and if you buy, the trellises are very inexpensive and will last for many seasons.

Cattle Pen Trellis

This is one of my favorite trellises and hubs promised he would make it for me this weekend. Normally, I like to build all the garden stuff myself, but I am giving in and getting help since the cukes and melons need to go into the ground NOW.  This trellis will allow me to plant melons as well as cukes and beans.  Can hardly wait. For full detailed directions, check out https://www.weedemandreap.com/make-trellis-raised-garden-box-combo/. We took the idea from this trellis and built our own with a few tweaks. If you would like to see the changes we made, click here.

Wire Fencing Trelles

This inexpensive trellis has directions at The New Home Economics. While they used welded wire fencing, I am thinking it could be done with chicken wire as well. Although you might need to add more braces.  They provide detailed directions complete with a shopping list of materials needed: https://newhomeeconomics.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/how-to-inexpensive-garden-trellis/

DIY Garden Trellis

This trellis is simple, but highly functional. While it is not really funky in my book, it does have nice clean lines and will look great full of veggies. I like that it is easy to set up and take down to store. Simple to follow directions at: http://www.frugalfamilyhome.com/home/gardening/diy-bean-pea-cucumber-trellis

A-Frame Standing Garden Trellis

This one is not quite as easy to build as the one above, but has great functionality.  The site has very detailed directions, photos to follow and a shopping list:  http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/8315/diy-a-frame-veggie-trellis

Squash Arch

An arch for a trellis is a fantastic choice for your veggies. Not only does it look beautiful when full of veggies or fruits and can be a focus in your outdoor landscape, but it is highly functional. You can find detailed directions complete with photos on how to put this together: http://getbusygardening.com/building-squash-arch/

Teepee Trellis

This beautiful trellis is made out of saplings and could be tied together with vines. We have some of those horrible thorny greenbrier vines that are incredibly strong. I wonder if they could be used to tie up a tee-pee like this one.  The site doesn’t provide much detail on building it, but not much is needed. I think it fits the funky designation as well. Inspiring photos of how the teepee trellis could be a focal point in your garden are included on the site: https://serendipitylifegarden.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/vertical-gardening-teepee-trellis/

Bike Wheel Trellis

Definitely funky, but very functional as well. Shouldn’t be too hard to find some bent old bicycle tires. At http://www.kvpermaculture.org/blog/permaculture/bike-wheel-trellis-hard-luffa/ you can find more information but not detailed directions on how to put this together. Shouldn’t be too hard to figure out, though.

Colorful Obelisks

I had to decide whether the obelisk would be a functional or funky trellis and decided it was really both.  They look striking in the garden and are entirely functional – for flowers, veggies or just good looks. Several sites out there have directions on how to build an obelisk, but at Momma D and Da Boyz you can get detailed directions on how to build this obelisk trellis for less than $10.00. I enjoyed seeing photos of Jennifer Desrochers actually building the obelisk!!!  You can get the details here: http://mommadanddaboyz.net/2014/06/12/obelisk-trellis-for-10/

Chevron Lattice Trellis

This chevron trellis adds a bit of class to your garden and can be functional as well. I think flowering plants would look nice on this, however, I wonder if they would just cover up the nice design. I have to think about this one, but I do like the look in the garden area.  Detailed tutorial can be found on the site: http://www.remodelaholic.com/diy-chevron-lattice-trellis-tutorial/

Crib Trellis

Yep – this trellis is made from the side of a crib.  Kim does a great job of explaining how to get the trellis into the ground. So, if your baby outgrew the crib, don’t get rid of it. Recycle it. I would think as your child grows up, they would enjoy seeking their beloved crib in the garden.  Or, just pick one up that you see laying around ready for the trash.  Good photos found here too: http://reposhture.blogspot.in/2012/05/crib-trellis.html

Climbing Vine Post Trellis

Lowes got a good one here. This trellis is relatively easy to build and adds a nice look to your garden. Could be a weekend project, easily. As per Lowe’s, instructions are provided: https://www.lowes.com/creative-ideas/lawn-and-garden/climbing-vines-post/project

Cedar Trellis

Isn’t this sapling, branch obelisk trellis peaceful looking as it blends perfectly into the outdoors?  I want to pull a chair up and dig into a good book as I listen to the birds chirping, woodpeckers hammering the trees, and the wind rustling the leaves. Yep, this will definitely grace my outdoors in the near future. The wood we have most of here is cedar. And I do like to chop those down because they suck the water away from the oaks in the summer. Won’t they look nice refashioned into an obelisk in my garden? And, they should last quite a while too. Not to mention smelling really good while I am making them.  Details here:  https://karmaperdiem.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/upcycled-garden-trellis/

I hope these examples of trellises will inspire you to go out and build one or more, just as they have inspired me. Trellises are so necessary if you are gardening and give you much more space/yield per square foot when you go up instead of out.  They also make veggies and fruit easier to pick and keep your hands from rooting around among the leaves and finding a snake. (Yes, that has happened to me. He was friendly and ran from me as I jumped/screamed – but still, I would just rather not run into those guys). If you use some of the examples, you can help the Earth by recycling and reusing. And, you will help your garden to look fantastic, too. Now that is a win-win for everyone.

If you build one of the examples or have something else you have used for a trellis, share with us. The more ideas, the more inspiration.

Build SUPER EASY, super FAST greenhouse benches for less than $5.00

 

Greenhouse Bench

An open greenhouse area with plants on the ground can work fine, but the addition of benches increases usage tremendously and can be a real back-saver, too.  If they cost next to nothing to make, then you have a real winner. My car garage/pallet greenhouse has been in place for several months and I decided that benches would facilitate watering (my back) and give me more space for organizing plants.  To save money, I went back to my stack of pallets and fashioned all the benches that I needed using pallets and scrap wood. For all the benches, the total cost was less than $5.00 (for the screws).

I had the option of building individual benches from each pallet and setting them up in a row, or attaching all the pallets together and then adding legs so that I had two long benches. I opted to make individual benches from each pallet for two reasons: 1) Wrangling the smaller units was much easier and more manageable for me. I simply don’t know how I would have moved a 12 foot long bench and 2)  Building individual units allowed more versatility for rearranging the benches in the greenhouse.  So, I built eight benches  29 inches deep and 32-33 inches wide.  Five benches were 32.5 inches high and four were 23.5 inches high (for the taller plants). I haven’t decided what to do for the “floor” of the greenhouse yet – but the plants are quite happy up on the benches now.  My back is so much happier, too.

I had one very large pallet made of varying widths of 2×4 boards – on the top as well as the sides.  I had never seen one quite like it – so I wrestled it onto my truck bed. I do mean wrestle, because that dude was incredibly heavy. Totally worth it, though. I found that I could make the legs for six pallet benches from that one pallet alone.  If you ever find something like that sitting around, grab it fast.

Pallet

The pallet above is an example of the types of pallets that I used for the tops of the benches. I found this incredible source for pallets from a large supplier of commercial copiers as I was driving around an industrial district looking for another pallet source I found on Craigslist. When I saw the pallets stacked up at the copier sales store, I asked some guys standing out back if I could take them. They were delighted. (So was I). Anyway, if you can find this type of source, grab all you can. They are heat treated – and HUGE bonus, they are super easy to take apart with just a  hammer.

BUILDING THE BENCHES
Building the benches was quite simple and we ended up building each bench in about 20 minutes. To begin, there was a large space in the middle of each pallet – which would not be good for the top of a bench because the smaller pots would just fall through. So, I knocked out one of the slats and screwed it in about midway between the gap.  Voila – the top of your shelf is done.

Each pallet had little pieces of wood on the top – I believe they were used to hold the office machine in place because they didn’t serve any other purpose that I could see.  Here’s my mom (she’s 93) removing those little pieces of wood.  Before you get upset at me for being a slave driver – she wants to help. And I like to keep her busy so that she is part of the renovating.  And – hey – if a 93 years young lady can do this, so can YOU!!!!

Preparing Pallet

While she was busy taking those wood pieces off, I had to figure out how high I wanted the benches to be.

In full disclosure, I grabbed four of the 2x4s that were about the same length and measured the shortest one. It was 32.5 inches, so I used that as the height for the taller benches. As it turned out, it was a perfect height to work with.

So, for the next step, simply measure and cut four legs the same length.

Legs added to bench
After the leg boards are cut, screw the legs into the sides of the pallet using two 3.5” screws on each leg.  The good thing about pallets is that they have that 4×4-ish brace at each end, so the legs were very secure when I used the 3.5″ screws.

Once the legs were attached and I stood it up, I noticed the shelf seemed to wobble a bit. To eliminate the wobble, I cut two scrap boards and attached them to the legs – as seen below. I used scraps that I had around for the side braces, and with one on each side, the bench was quite stable.  Whether I used a piece of a pallet, a spare 1×3 or 1×4 for the side brace, I aligned the tops at 10.5 inches (from the bottom of the leg). I did this so that if I later decided I wanted a second shelf, I could just slide a board onto the cross braces and have an instant shelf.

Side Braces on Benches

Wobble gone, shelf built in a very short period of time.  Ain’t she a beauty?  OK, I think all the varying looks of the wood  legs and braces makes for an interesting look. If you don’t care for this “eclectic” look, the benches would look nice and probably more “together” if painted one color. Or perhaps, the legs and braces one color and the top wood. I just needed them to be there and functional – so I will let you know later if I decide to paint them.

Finished Bench

Depending on the wood for the legs and the side braces, some of the benches ended up being fairly heavy. The greenhouse isn’t terribly far from where I was building the benches, but since I was trying to save my back, I decided to upend them on my wheelbarrow and take them to the greenhouse. I mention this because I want you to be able to do these projects, even if you are not terribly strong. Making the benches individually and using the wheelbarrow to move them means that I did not have to have a stronger person do the heavy lifting for me.  I am woman, I am strong. . .

Moving Bench to Greenhouse
In one day, I was able to build the benches (with the help of Mom), put these babies in the greenhouse for less than $5.00.  These are the deals that I like.  And, I had very happy plants and a very happy back.Yes, I think plants appreciate these little things we do for them.  See them smiling?

Shelves in Greenhouse
One last suggestion. As always, when you use pallets, you want to be very careful to make sure they are safe. Make sure that they are not coated with chemicals and don’t have chemicals spilled on them that would harm you or your plants.  For a comprehensive post on identifying your pallets and making sure you are using safe wood, go here.  In a nutshell, if they have an HT stamped on the wood, they are heat treated and safe to use.

Building benches for your greenhouse really makes them more accessible and usable. If you can build them quickly and inexpensively, that is even better. This quick project will provide you with an easy and cheap solution. What do you think of the benches? Do you have any other benches you have built? Share!!!

Beautiful Flowers with no Soil Required – 10 DIY Bloomin’ Beauties

Even if it is mid-winter, you can still have beautiful flowers in your garden with these DIY garden art flowers.  You can make your garden say WOW any time of the year and all year. Garden art has certainly gained a place in the garden and the ideas below are a great way to get started.  Some are funky, some are just fun and some are beautiful. It will just take your magic touch and creativity to make your garden shine. As usual, I have selected ideas that come with tutorials.

The Empress of Dirt, as usual, has some  striking flowers with full directions. This nail-allium will last for years and look great in any garden.

Allium garden art by Empress of Dirt

You can find another example of allium made with chicken wire here, but the directions are less than detailed and you will have to figure some of it out on your own.  I am planning to make both and will let you know how it goes.

Allium

If you are into garden art at all, you have probably seen lots of examples of flowers made from plates. There are plenty out there and your imagination is your only limitation.

Plate Flowers

Grassy Branch Farms has done a great job of explaining how to make plate flowers as well as providing all the supplies you will need to make them.

But, because there are many different ideas on how to make plate flowers, check out Joan Stewart’s directions and examples of beautiful plate flowers.

Another Plate Flower

Empress of Dirt calls these treasure jars – and they are quite magical, but I think they could pass as lovely DIY garden flowers, too. As always, she provides great directions on how to make these enchanting garden pieces.

Treasure Jar Flowers

And, of course, bright shiny flowers made out of spoons and forks add an enchanting look to any garden. The Thrifty Rebel shares outstanding directions on how to make these beautiful flowers. While I think welding the flowers would be a good idea, I simply do not have welding skills in my repertoire.  Some day, maybe – what do you think?  But Thrifty Rebel tells how to make them with glue. My kind of project!

Spoon Flowers

So many ideas out there for hub cap flowers that I had a hard time choosing. But, I like how these are “situated” on the wall. The overall look is just quaint. Melony Miller Bradley provides succinct but clear directions.  Aren’t they warm and inviting?

Hub Cap Flowers

Although smaller than the other flowers, Crafts by Amanda offers a very attractive bottle cap flower that is easy to put together. Don’t you think that it sparkles?

Bottle Cap Flower

The Thrifty Rebel does it again with a unique flower made out of ceramic spoons.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about it but when I saw the picture  of the flower in the garden, I really liked the way it looked. Easy to make, the flower is quite striking in the garden.  As usual, she provides detailed and excellent directions.

Soup Spoon Flower

Aren’t the flowers below just adorable?  And made out of – drum roll – aluminum cookie sheets. You know – like the ones you can get at Dollar Tree for a dollar!  And so easy to make.  I am not sure how they would hold up in the garden, but perhaps putting two together?  Anyway, they are attractive and inexpensive enough to warrant a try.  Coleen at I Heart Naptime does a great job of explaining how to make them.

Tin Flowers

And finally – with a garden full of flowers, you are bound to have some beautiful butterflies.  I couldn’t resist adding this lovely display of butterflies that would look great in any garden. This Instructables provides great directions for a lively display of butterflies.  They recommend using aluminum flashing, but I wonder if it wouldn’t work to use aluminum cans? No doubt, these would look great in your garden.

Butterflies in the Garden

Clearly, even if you don’t have a green thumb – or you are just waiting for the bloom to begin, you can have flowers in your garden that will bring smiles to those who are visiting the garden. Hopefully these ideas will inspire you to create some magic. If you do, please be sure to let me know by sharing.