Projects To Try Feed

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!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


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.....

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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

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 


Spring Planting Time

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)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! 

Spend Wisely My Friends.....


Indoor Edible Garden Update: Harvesting green beans

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)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!

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Update: The Indoor Edible Garden Project

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

20171028_073058Radishes, spinach and beans have sprouted, oh my!

I've really enjoyed putting this project together and I've already got some veggies getting all nice and green in less than a week.

Remember that $600 figure I wrote about in buying a 'ready made' indoor plant shelf equipped with lighting?  I put mine together for about $150.  That my friends, is Bachelor on the Cheap friendly!  The shelf unit itself was the largest expense at about $80, the rest of the budget was spent on some lighting.  It wasn't difficult to attach that lighting to the shelf either, easy peasy. 

Now that the veggies I've planted are starting to sprout, pending updates will be about the coming harvests!  Stay tuned for more Bachelor on the Cheap "Project Indoor Edible Garden" updates!

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"Project Indoor Edible Garden" update - Day 4

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

20171026_113623It's Day four on a small project I'm undertaking, creating an indoor edible garden. 

Day one was spent clearing some space for this 'garden', doing some cleaning and planning.

Day two was spent putting together a shelf unit and rigging it with some lighting.

Day three was spent on getting some planting trays and pots ready, to include some planting.

Day four has been spent getting ready to transfer some outdoor plants to the new indoor spot.

Starting from seed:

I got some green beans (bush variety), peas, carrots and radishes in the soil on day three.  This morning I got some lettuces, spinach, beets and tomatoes in the soil.    They shouldn't take long to germinate considering the controlled environment they're in.  I still have a lot on my list to plant:    Green onions, peppers and a variety of herbs. 

I'm having fun putting this project together and am looking forward to harvesting fresh veggies in mid-winter! 

Stay tuned for more Bachelor on the Cheap "Project Indoor Edible Garden" updates!   


"Project Indoor Edible Garden" update - Day 3

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

20171024_084524It's Day three on a small project I'm undertaking, creating an indoor edible garden. 

Day one was spent clearing some space for this 'garden', doing some cleaning and planning.

Day two was spent putting together a shelf unit and rigging it with some lighting.

Day three was spent on getting some planting trays and pots ready, to include some planting.

I got some green beans (bush variety), peas, carrots and radishes in the soil.  They shouldn't take long to germinate considering the controlled environment they're in.  Next up to plant:  Green onions, lettuces, peppers, spinach and a variety of herbs. 

I'm having fun putting this project together and am looking forward to harvesting fresh veggies in mid-winter! 

Stay tuned for more Bachelor on the Cheap "Project Indoor Edible Garden" updates!   

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"Project Indoor Edible Garden" update - Day 2

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

20171023_074644So yesterday I wrote about a small project I'm undertaking, creating an indoor edible garden. 

Day one was spent clearing some space for this 'garden', doing some cleaning and planning.

Day two was spent putting together a shelf unit, which I purchased at Lowe's for about $80 after tax.  It's a 5 shelf unit, measuring 6' high and just under 4' wide.  Made of steel with a chrome finish, it looks nice and each shelf can hold up to 350 pounds.  I've got lighting rigged from the top shelf and when this project is complete each shelf will have its own dedicated lighting, to supplement the natural light coming from the east facing window.  Day three will be spent rigging more lighting and getting all my pots and planting trays ready.

"Fun" fact.....  Buying a plant shelf unit all 'ready made' with lighting can cost up to $600!  Ouch!

The next phase is to start seeding, potting, planting and transplanting.  I've got a few plants I'm bringing in from outdoors, which have been sprayed with insecticidal soap - I don't want to bring in any unwanted guests!

I'm having fun putting this project together and am looking forward to harvesting fresh veggies in mid-winter! 

Stay tuned for more Bachelor on the Cheap "Project Indoor Edible Garden" updates!   

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Creating an indoor edible garden

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

I love fresh produce and gardening.  But the winter months are just around the corner and my ability to just walk outside my door and harvest something for a salad or a quick stir fry is just about gone for the year.

So I got to thinking, "Why not bring some of my garden, indoors?"

I've got some empty space to put up a good sized shelf unit, the room has a big east window for some natural light and I can supplement that with some plant lights.....

Yep, it's the beginning of a project....

So what kind of veggies can be grown indoors?

That's a key question because by growing plants indoors, I won't have the benefit of insects and/or wind to pollinate the plants, I'll have to cultivate self-pollinating veggies.

Here's the list of what I'll attempt with that in mind:

  • Green Beans (bush variety)
  • Green Onions
  • Lettuces
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • A variety of herbs like basil, cilantro, mint, oregano, parsley, thyme, etc

I'm looking forward to putting this project together, and not having to shop for 'so-so' produce at the grocery store during the winter months.

Stay tuned for the Bachelor on the Cheap "Project Indoor Edible Garden" updates!  Here's the starting point, as you can see, I've got a blank canvas to work with.....

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