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Repurposing an old office cabinet

Repurposing an old office supply cabinet
This helped organize my garage big time

By Mike Thayer

Once a custom built storage cabinet for an office, housing pretty much a full compliment of office supplies, paper, tape, staples, paper clips, staplers, rubber bands, pens, pencils, you name it... has now been repurposed into a garden cabinet/fishing rod rack in my garage. 

This is actually a second repurpose for this cabinet. The office it was in was remodeled and the cabinet didn't fit into those remodel plans.  Not wanting to scrap it, I turned the nice oak piece into a liquor cabinet for awhile.  It functioned well in that role for a spell, but I've moved from an apartment to a house in the last year and that transition included turning what has been a traditional family room style space in my house - fireplace, couch, love seat, a large flat screen TV, stereo, coffee table, side tables - into a "Man Cave" Bar & Grill!  The traditional furniture was removed, going all out Bar & Grill theme for the room.  We're talking TVs on every wall, enhanced lighting, full bar, bottle/beverage cooler, stools for the bar and bar table seating in the open area.  It's a work in progress, but that cabinet, well it got repurposed...  again.

Repurposing an old cabinet
Gardening items, easy access, all in one space.

The former office supply cabinet turned liquor cabinet was given a place in the garage and converted into storage for garden tools, pots and plant containers, flats for starting plants, potato grow bags, weed fabric, watering cans and more.  The cabinet multi-tasks too, serving as a structure to organize and hold fishing rods.  It's a maximum use of available cabinet space. 

It was an easy conversion.  Cork board on the inside of the doors that used to have drink recipes and a wine list pinned up, now serves to have a landscaping plan, plant wish list and garden growth progress chart pinned up.  The lower section of the cabinet, which used to house a file cabinet back in the day, then wine racks, now serves as a place to keep my cold frame cheat when not in use.  I left the wine glass rack in the upper portion of the cabinet, it's great for hanging spray bottles of various weed killers, insecticides, fungicides and home made fertilizers.  It not only saves on shelf space for other items, but definitely keeps those sprays out of harms way.  Kids can't reach them, animals can't sniff let alone lick them out of curiosity.  I also have the option of adding another shelf - currently not in use - to aid in organizing the unit, if needed.

Maximizing storage on cabinet exterior
Fishing rod rack #1

Taking advantage of the exterior walls of the cabinet, I fastened fishing rod racks, holding six rods each on either side.  I didn't realize how many fishing rods I have until putting those rod holders up.  I still have more fishing rods to organize, I need another rod rack!

This was a very satisfying repurpose project, it was an easy conversion and saved me more than a few bucks that I would have spent on shelving at a place like Lowe's or Home Depot.  The only cost associated with this project was time.  Everything needed for the conversion was already on hand, to include the fishing rod racks and the hardware to secure them.

If you're doing a kitchen or bath remodel, don't let the contractor take the old cabinets - repurpose them!  If a friend is doing a remodel, if they don't have plans to repurpose old storage units, cabinets, whatever, ask if you can have them!  If the neighbor is getting rid of an old entertainment stand because it's out-of-style but it's still in decent shape - repurpose it! 

Multi-tasking an old cabinet
Fishiing Rod Rack #2

Related:  Using a plastic drawer set as a cold frame for the garden

Related: Creating a "Salad Bar" with an old coffee table

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Raised bed garden planter with a self watering feature

Building a raised bed planter
Getting started

By Mike Thayer

Why break ground, till, clear grass and work to amend the soil when you can put together a couple raised bed gardens instead?  Besides, harvesting veggies and cutting flowers from a raised garden is MUCH easier on the knees and I love the concept of adding a self watering feature to the raised beds! 

This was a project motivated by Cindy C, she found the planter box plans and solicited my help to get it built.  After going over the plans from Family Handyman, finding the right spot to place it in her backyard and purchasing materials, the thought process was to build the first box exactly as directed per the instructions.  It's a pretty basic, straight forward plan, a box with a false floor, a liner to extend the life of the wood and some tubing to create a watering system.   In building future planter boxes, the plans will be tweaked, editing what wasn't liked in the original plan as well as putting in some add ons, such as shelves on the end pieces to make working in the bed easier.  It would be nice to have a place to set a flat of new plants, set down the hand trowel when not in use and of course, you have to have a place for your beverage!

Planter end pieces
End pieces are done

A couple of nice benefits to having the raised beds will be the ability to easily cover the bed with an old fitted sheet if there is a frost warning in the forecast and that self watering feature - watering the roots of the plants rather than from above cuts down on diseases like blight and mildew  In addition, watering time is reduced and because it's more efficient, you save on the water bill.  

The price of wood has really gone up since these guidelines were first released.  Costing a little over $400 in materials, the planter took roughly 16 hours to construct, fill with dirt and plant.  Overall, the Family Handyman instructions were pretty easy to follow and included a materials list, a cut list, decent illustrations and a recommended plant list.  This was a fun project and after putting the first box together and getting it planted, here are a few changes to suggest.

  • Rather than just two, 2"x2" vertical cleats on the long side pieces, go with three to prevent board warp.
  • Go with 1-1/2" CPVC pipe instead of the 1" pipe listed in the instructions.  A garden hose won't fit down a 1" pipe when filling.
  • Use 2-3/4" exterior screws. 
  • The instructions recommend four separate sections of tubing going from end piece to end piece.  I recommend one piece of tubing to allow for faster filling and you won't have to use as much water.
  • This is a heavy planter, try to construct where you'll be placing it.

Customizing future planter boxes will be both fun and functional, putting shelves on the end pieces, along with the installation of vertical 4"x4" posts for a trellis and vertical growing.  Cindy also came up with the great thought of creating a box half this size and equip it with heavy duty casters for mobility.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Planter pieces
Pieces, ready to assemble
Planter box
Assembled pieces, ready to line with pond liner
Planter with liner
Liner stapled in
Planter with socked tubing
Tubing and fill tube in place
Planter with plants
Trimming the top while planting
Planter lined with brick
Just about finished!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related: Lowe's vs. Home Depot vs. Menard's vs. Sutherland's

Related: Building a self watering raised planter bed

Related: Building Planter Containers on the Cheap

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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A Bachelor on the Cheap project to try: Turning an old office chair, into a mobile garden container

Office Chair
A VERY comfy chair, but it's time for a new one

Mike Thayer

This office chair is SO comfortable, but it has seen better days... The duct tape/shredding pseudo leather upholstery is no longer working for me, so it's time to repurpose.

Bitten by the garden landscape bug, I'm going to use the wheels of this chair as a base for a mobile garden container! Stay tuned as I tackle another Bachelor on the Cheap Project!

I've got a great front porch with a lot of space for plants, but like most porches, it shifts from sun to shade later in the day.  Having a decent sized container that's mobile will help get those plants some additional sun exposure!

Office Chair
Repurposing the chair wheel base to create a mobile garden container will be a fun challenge

The challenge will be figuring out what materials will work best and attaching a container to the wheel base.  Do I go round in shape, square, octagon?  Do I leave the chair lift cylinder in place so I can raise and lower the container to accommodate draping plants?

This is going to be a fun and inexpensive repurpose project!

Stay tuned!

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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Creating a "Salad Bar" with an old coffee table

Shade Garden
Apartment patio

By Mike Thayer

Two years ago, I turned an old coffee table into a shade garden for my apartment patio.

What do you do with an old coffee table that had a tile or slate top and a bunch of those pieces got broken rendering it unusable?  OH NO, a topless table!  And don't ask what happened to make the table topless, I'm not telling.

And sure, you could TRY to save the table by going to the Big Box store and hope to find tiles or slate that matches what you had - good luck with that.....   Or you could buy all new tiles or slate and hope the store has all the right sizes for your coffee table to make it like new again - good luck with that too......

So screw that headache, I say repurpose that topless coffee table and make it a planter!

But I've since moved from that apartment, to a house and a lot less shade.

So what used to be a shade garden, is now a "Salad Bar" - it's repurposing a coffee table x2!

The back patio of my house gets a lot of sun, so it was pretty much a no brainer converting this table from a shade garden containing coleus, begonias, and caladiums into a "Salad Bar" containing a variety of lettuces, onions, cucumber and radishes!

20220329_165438(1)Come harvest time, it won't get any fresher than that!  Just step onto my back patio and pick what I need for a salad or side dish!

YUM!

The beauty of having a repurposed item like this is the mobility.  It's light, so I can transport this table to just about any space in my yard I want.  And it's flexible.  I could leave this in the shade if I wanted to and have that shade garden, very visually appealing, but that sunny space on the back patio was calling me out, "Create a salad bar!"

This project didn't really cost me anything other than a bag of fresh potting soil, as I already had the table on hand and set up for plants.  But check out the original article on "how to":

Related: Repurposing an old coffee table into a shade garden for the patio

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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Building a self watering raised planter bed

By Mike Thayer

FH12APR_527_51_165I love to garden and I've got a new place to create one this season having moved from an apartment to a house.  I inherited an established yard and there are plenty of existing plantings - evergreens, ornamental grasses, ivy - along the perimeter of the yard, but the middle of the back yard is a blank canvas, ample room to get creative in developing a vegetable garden, with space to put in some flower beds to boot.

Enter a raised bed garden, no digging required and self watering!

Why break ground, till, clear grass and work to amend the soil when I can put together a couple raised bed gardens instead?  Besides, harvesting veggies and cutting flowers from a raised garden is MUCH easier on the knees and I love the concept of adding a self watering feature to the raised beds!

Here's the materials list:

  • Six 12' 2x6s
  • Three 12' deck boards
  • Two 10' 2x4s
  • One 8' 2x4
  • Four 8' 2x2s
  • 24' of 4" diameter perforated drain pipe with sleeve
  • Pond liner
  • Exterior screws
  • Raised bed planter mix
  • 1/2' vinyl tubing for drainage
  • 1-1/2" CPVC (fill tube)

This project should take me two, maybe three days to assemble, position and plant the raised beds.  A couple of nice benefits to having the raised beds will be the ability to easily cover the bed with an old fitted sheet if there is a frost warning in the forecast and that self watering feature - watering the roots of the plants which cuts down on diseases like blight and mildew. 

Stay tuned, cost breakdown and project pics coming soon!

Raised beds on the apartment patio
I love the cedar and corrugated metal look

Related:  What I built for my apartment patio a few years back

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Repurposing an old coffee table into a shade garden for the patio

By Mike Thayer

Coffee Table Repurpose ProjectWhat do you do with an old coffee table that had a tile or slate top and a bunch of those pieces got broken rendering it unusable?  OH NO, a topless table!  And don't ask what happened to make the table topless, I'm not telling.

And sure, you could TRY to save the table by going to the Big Box store and hope to find tiles or slate that matches what you had - good luck with that.....   Or you could buy all new tiles or slate and hope the store has all the right sizes for your coffee table to make it like new again - good luck with that too......

So screw that headache, I say repurpose that topless coffee table and make it a planter!

That's what I did with a metal frame coffee table, turning it into a weekend project in creating a shade garden for my apartment patio.

And what's not to like with this project, working with a black, aluminum frame, I don't have to worry about weather proofing it.  I don't have to worry about leveling, measuring, cutting or fastening anything together.  Easy peasy!  Next step, find some plastic pots that I can simply insert into the slate/tile spots.

I found the pots I needed at Lowe's, 8" pots and I stuck with the color of black, so the pots would blend in, allowing the plants to pop in showing off their colors.

Coffee Table Planter Project
A coffee table planter for the patio

In selecting the pots, I also picked out the plants that will be featured in this planter creation, all shade varieties, as this 'living' table will get some early morning sun, but after about 11am, it will be in shade for the rest of the day.  I bought a mix of Coleus, Begonia, Caladium and Fuchsia, a nice assortment of colorful foliage, flowers and textures.

Ringing up the sale, pots, plants, along with some good quality potting soil, I spent about $65 on what could be considered a nice planter display piece for any patio.  And the time to put it together was minimal.  I think I spent more time at the store, picking out the pots and plants than I did actually potting the plants and inserting them into the table, I literally just dropped them in, maybe 45 minutes, tops.  I popped in a few of the remaining tiles where pots couldn't go and voila!.....  Project complete.

I'm looking forward to how great this table will really look once those plants fill in a bit!  And one last feature to point out about this planter table, it's light enough that you can move it around, with pots still in place.  And OK, another nice feature, it will be SO easy to swap out plants or turn it into a sun loving planter if desired - just insert different pots!

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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Adding a bit of whimsy to the garden

By Mike Thayer

Chair Planter
Repurposing a chair

Have an old, wobbly, doesn't-fit-in-with-the-decor, or otherwise unwanted chair in the house?

Put it in the garden.

An easy project, I took a little wobbly chair, removed the seat cushion, bought a plastic pot to match the black frame, purchased some plants that pair well together and voila, a whimsy display for the patio garden!

This chair planter project took all of 20 minutes to do.  After removing the seat, I put the pot in place, drilled a few holes in the bottom for drainage, dropped in some weed cloth to keep the dirt in, poured in some planting mix (which I already had on hand), and transplanted those plants.  I actually spent more time shopping for the right pot and plants!  My total cost to 'create' the planter was $23, the bulk of that spent on the plants, which were on clearance at Walmart.  It's getting to be the end of garden center shopping season, so get what flowers and veggies you still need while supplies last, selections up to 50% off.

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

20190621_121414(1)

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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Building Planter Containers on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Asphalt Garden
 
 
 
 
The pallet look

So I live in an apartment, I like to garden and I do have a patio where I do some container gardening, but it's ground level and it's asphalt.  That means it gets REALLY hot....  When it's 90 degrees out in the summer, add another 10 degrees to that temp because that dark asphalt absorbs all that sun and radiates.

Hot temps + hot asphalt = unhappy plant roots.  The first year in my apartment, I just did pots directly on the asphalt patio....  Oooopppsss!  No matter how often I watered, conditions just weren't good for most of my plants.  My plants were always too hot and too dry.  In the second season of patio container gardening, I went with pallets, lining my fenceline with them, separating my pots from the asphalt.  While that was a very practical and economical solution to the heat problem that my patio garden plants appreciated, it was a bit unsightly.  The cheap plastic containers I typically buy are easily faded by the sun in one season and pallets just aren't sexy at all, so this year, I gave my patio garden a makeover.

Enter, corrugated metal and cedar planter containers

Asphalt Garden
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Under Construction

After looking for planter ideas online, in seed catalogs and gardening magazines, I really got to liking the corrugated metal and cedar look.  What I decided on are raised bed planters designed to put garden soil directly in the planter, but given my patio setting, that's not an option.  What I could do, I thought to myself, was build the raised beds, and prop my containers up on the pallets inside.  A "window dressing" if you will, there would be a lot of downsizing and custom cutting of those pallets involved, but the raised garden planter look would really dress the patio up and I could do such a project far cheaper than buying a bunch of big, ornate, clay pots.

Cedar wood can be expensive, but a top finish board isn't needed for a garden setting, a rustic look and rough cut boards is perfect for this project.  I went with cedar fence pickets, they're cheap - less that $2 a picket - easy to cut, drill and secure in place with wood screws.  The corrugated metal is also cheap, with 2' x 8 ' panels costing about $15 each.  Measuring about 6 feet long by 24 inches deep and about 25 inches tall, these planters cost me about $40 per planter to build.  The pallets, which I already had on hand, cost me nothing.  

This project was fun and fairly easy to do.  The only tools needed really was a saw, tape measure, some tin snips for the corrugated metal and a drill to secure everything in place with screws.

If you're looking to upgrade your container garden, don't think new, expensive pots, think corrugated metal and cedar wood to dress up what you already have.

Container Gardening
A container garden makeover

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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Spring Planting Time

By Mike Thayer

It's that time of year again!  The temporary "pop-up" garden shops are getting set up in grocery and hardware store parking lots and I'm ready to get my hands dirty planting seeds.

I really enjoy gardening, being able to just walk out my door and harvest some tomatoes, lettuce, onions and an assortment of other veggies for a salad or a side dish is one of those priceless, simple pleasures of life for me.

The best part of having a garden, it doesn't get any fresher than that!

I like gardening so much, I even did an indoor gardening project this winter, but enjoying my hobby out in nice weather is SO much better.

20180320_081009If you're into gardening, now is the time to be planting seeds indoors to transplant in the backyard and/or patio garden after that last frost.  You don't need a bunch of gardening gadgets or containers to get started either, just a couple of cardboard egg cartons and some potting soil will do.  Pictured right, three eggs cartons, 'seed starting' with parsley, cilantro and Roma tomato.  In other cartons I've started lettuces, peas, green beans, cucumbers not in an egg carton, an avocado tree!

I'm going to have a bunch of great looking starter plants in no time and I'll be saving a lot of money vs. buying starter plants at one of those pop-up garden shops to boot!  That's Bachelor on the Cheap friendly.

And about that last frost, here's a planting guide to help you get started, as well as a hardiness zone map to help you determine just what kind of plants will thrive outdoors where you live.

Happy Planting! 

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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Indoor Edible Garden Update: Harvesting green beans

By Mike Thayer

20171221_184330It's a meager harvest, but the green beans are starting to produce.

I haven't posted an Indoor Edible Garden Update in awhile and I am pleased to report that I have been enjoying radishes, spinach and a variety of micro-greens harvested from my apartment dining room.  And now, it's a pleasure to see a lot of blossoms and small beans on the bean shelf of the indoor garden!

The beans were planted back in late October and early November, a couple pots being planted each week to provide on ongoing harvest.  With a maturation date of 60 days, these plants are right on time in the controlled environment - a consistent 70 degrees, 16 hours of light a day (natural sun through the window supplemented with fluorescent lighting) and watering when things get dry to include some occasional misting to keep humidity levels up.

I'm in a 'hurry up and wait' mode for broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and some turnips.  I'll have some peas very soon though and look forward to making some stir fry!

20171206_200035

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