Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Project: Shelving Rack into Raised Planter

 Two weeks ago I finally got around to a project I've been dreaming of for months. With help from my da we turned this:
FREE second hand metal utility shelving rack :)

Into this:

Raised planter!

Over a year ago a friend gave the metal rack to me when he was cleaning out his garage. Originally I'd considered making it a greenhouse for seedlings, or just use it as nice shelves to set containers on ...but it'd been thickly painted after its first assembly and I couldn't get the pieces to budge. I didn't want shelves or a greenhouse I couldn't modify as necessary. So I repainted it from fire engine red to a calmer brown and set stuff on and under it while I decided what to do.

Finally the raised planter idea came. Da helped me get the lumber from a local place he used to use (he was a cabinet maker for decades). Rough sawn cedar. He was being contrary that day and bought it for me ;) Da picked it up when the order came in, John helped me unload at home and get things set up for us to start work.

 My dear Grumpy took over the project almost immediately.

 I am always fascinated and frustrated watching him work.
(he does not like to let me play with use the power toys tools)

There's the bottom boards ready

Rough sawn is cheaper and I love the look, but it is not without hazzards :(

You can see the way the racks are put together makes the bottom boards slope inwards ... perfect for drainage! I cut a coconut basket liner in half and put that inside each end of the planter to keep the soil from spilling out. I also used an old cloth sheet scrap to line the drainage crack all along the bottom to keep the soil in.

 And here's the completed planter!

The measuring, cutting and putting together took less than two hours! We had to split some boards, and re-cut boards by little increments to get them all to fit properly (the rack wasn't put together  perfectly square). The front (long) boards were put in first, then the side (short) ones sandwiched between them at the ends. The L shape of the legs holds the sides up, and the pressure from the soil inside keeps them in place. We used ZERO screws or nails! (not counting the bits attaching the rack pieces that were already there). I thought about painting the outside with Earthsafe paints.... but I love the look of the raw wood :)

After all that was done I used E.B. Stone soil I bought with my Groupon to fill it, took six 20 qt. bags oh my! I used five of the Edna's Best Potting Soil and 1 Flower & Vegetable Soil, and mixed in a few cups of Kellog's organic vegetable fertilizer.

You can see that Felis catus "Oh So Helpful" did her part by keeping the bags from flying away

 Then the fun part came. I transplanted four tomatoes (roots and stems buried 12" min!), three blue annual salvias, two akashiso, two kale Dwarf Blue and a Marvel of Four Seasons lettuce. A few days later I exchanged the kale with nasturtium Alaskas when I was that's a no-no mix in my companion planting guide. There is still some space left along the front. I might put basil or chives from the LotB community garden project there, or onions and carrots... We will see.

I also used some plant markers I found at Ikea for the tomatoes. They are nice, two for a dollar :) I used paint markers, which come off with rubbing alcohol for next season, to write the varieties.

I'm very happy with this project. Thanks Da!

Here's an October 2011 photo. The fall plants are growing in well, and the cast iron wall ornament I found at a yard sale completes it :)

*UPDATE 1/4/12*
I'm entering this project in the Not Just a Housewife's Best DIY Project of 2011 contest, please click the link below and vote for me!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mar Vista Garden Showcase

Next weekend on Saturday, April 30th is the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase. If you are in or near LA County with would be an awesome day event for you running from 11am to 4pm and it's FREE!

They have multiple tours going on focused on different aspects of green gardening like native planting and solar power. If you click on the different tour maps it has lists of the gardens included and each one's special features so you can plan what you really want to see ahead of time! (so kind, thank you!) It seems many of the home garden in the tours have been featured in Sunset and other gardening mags, including this one that was in the LA Times.

I think I am going to skip my city's Youth Day Parade this year to check it out! And I think I'll be riding my bici through.... any other LA gardeners wanna meet up and join me?!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Grape Poppies at Last!

I tried to grow Lauren's Grape poppies unsuccessfully several times last year. This year I finally have 3 plants going strong and two just bloomed yesterday! Sorry, just can't wait for Bloom Day this month...

The plants are much taller and wider than I expected from the packet info. The blossoms are also larger than I'd hoped and a perfect red wine color! The pics don't do them justice, they are much more purple in person. Even Photoshop couldn't help me show the proper coloring *sigh*. Very happy again today :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Happy Sightings!

I've had four sightings in the last 3 weeks that have made me do happy dances :) Sadly, each time I had no camera in my hands :/

Three weeks ago I saw my Cooper's hawk fly overhead just before sunset. I assume he/she was heading to wherever the nest is for the night. I hadn't seen it for awhile and was worrying over it.

The week after that I got up to water my green children one morning and found hover flies everywhere in my container garden! They were going after my alyssum and too fast to catch on camera :/ I saw many different sizes and colors so I think that means there's a good variety in my mini-habitat :)

Last week I stopped by home in the middle of day and there was the Cooper's hawk again! It flew out of dad's avocado tree (online info says they like to ambush little birds inside tree canopies) and sat on our fence briefly before flying off to chase a crow. That was amazing to see. Despite the fact that it's trying to make a meal out of my little army (as I call the sparrows and morning doves that come to our feeder) I really like having that hawk around. I would just prefer it to eat more pigeons instead...

Aaand... this morning while watering my green children again I heard a weird buzzy noise and looked up and - hummingbird! First I've seen this year. It was checking out the Alaska nasturtiums in the backyard :) I'm surprised to have it visit the container garden when I've hung a hummingbird feeder in the front yard :z

I must add more nasturtiums.... and transplant the red salvia I got last week....

Happy wildlife sightings to everyone!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Groupon Deal for LA Area Gardeners!

Hey, I found this Groupon deal today for Armstrong Garden Centers in Long Beach, Torrance, Westchester and Santa Monica! $25 for $50 of plants or supplies! Details at Groupon.com

Hope this helps some gardeners out!

Have fun getting your hands dirty this weekend!

Mary's Gardening Calendar