Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Mystery Plant

I got some window/railing boxes at a sale last year, and Walmart had a clearance sale on coconut fiber bottoms over the winter so I snatched those up for almost nothing. 

In mid-May I filled them with dirt and planted out my surviving lettuce...and a few seeds. The seeds were lettuce, spinach, and radishes.

Those aren't radishes.

Actually I'm not sure what they are. Stunted broccoli? Kale? They even flowered before I realized it wasn't just some weird radishes (I've never grown them before). 

Well, at least one lettuce made it. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Dean's speedy earthtainers. I'll just call them speed-tainers.

Notice the sandwich baskets work as support.

Some kind of board top. He left the edges open for water/dirt crossover. This may mean too much water crosses over. We'll just do some experimenting. 

Additional tubs. 

By the way, I just wanted to reiterate that Dean has not read any of the plans for Ray's original design(s). He took my explanation of what I saw and riffed on that. When he read my last post he was a little amazed at how professional Ray's earthtainers look. Considering that he was working from my verbal explanation I think he did a great job. 

Also, many people have a personal problem growing things in plastic. I just want to add that you can do this with a 5 gallon bucket made of food grade plastic and other similar materials. I am just VERY CHEAP. These three tubs were made for @$4 each. Some people spend up to $50 making an earthtainer. I'm not that invested, just curious. 

Monday, June 27, 2011


I'm sorry, it's been so busy around here that I haven't even planted my tomatoes...let alone blog. 

I decided to try making homemade earthtainers...a plastic container with a water reservoir underneath. That way I can access more sunlight (on the southern exposure which is paved) while using less water (no hose hook ups over there).

A few weeks ago Dean helped me take some old plastic pots and put holes in them with his drill press to use as wicking baskets. The idea of pond baskets seemed a bit more expensive then we wanted for this experiment. 

 This weekend we started where we left off. We had to figure the width of the pots where they widen out so we could cut a hole in the water reservoir. We drew a circle around the widest point then we measured how far in it went. We made a cardboard circle pattern. In general this would have been much easier if we used a $1 sand bucket or a pricier pond basket. 

Next Dean cut the edges off a plastic container. I got these for $3-4 at Walmart. We tried a few electric tools from a dremel to a saw but they savaged the plastic pretty well. A hand saw worked the best. 

So now the lid fits inside the bucket and there's a hole for the water/dirt interchange.

We need something keep the lid from collapsing into the reservoir. We cut up some old gutters we had and stationed them around.

And a hole for the water pipe. We want the water to come up from below..not watering from above. This eliminates some of the problem with dirt diseases and lowers evaporation to almost nil. We used some leftover pvc pipe for this. 

Here I fill up the water reservoir before we add the dirt. 

Dirt and plants. Usually I think this size does 2 plants but I was a little desperate. The entire operation took a little less than an hour, but Dean did 2 more himself in the next 30-40 minutes once we had everything figured out. 

Next time I'll show Dean's additional earthtainers with his tweaks. 

I recommend following the links. Ray Newcombe came up with a brilliant idea and instead of marketing it he's offered it free to everyone. I like that kind of do-it-yourself ideal. Plus he continues to use it himself, tweak, and refine it and he welcomes other people to do the same. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

When That '60s Cabinetry Has Got You Down

We've lived here for 11 years. The house was built in 1960. There are many things I like about that. 

Unfortunately, there was a certain size of refrigerator in 1960. It was under 60" tall. It's kind of hard to find one that size. You can. It's just harder. And it takes a certain puzzle-ability to stock things for a family of 6 in a fridge that size.

Our fridge is making weird noises. Loud weird noises.  We've discussed getting a new one but we both felt a little intimidated by the fridge placement and the over-fridge-cabinet we never use. 

So I took things into my own hands. 

Unseen in these photos I took down the cabinet doors and other hardware. 

Dean gets to do the fun stuff.

It feels kind of fun to come home and saw off a part of the kitchen.

And pry up the long nails that hold the bottom shelf on.

Now its all read for me to work my magic. White paint. 

All done. Hopefully the other fridge will be large enough to cover the transition between wallpaper and paint. Only a little white paint should stick out. 

This is only a small project but it reminds me not to be too afraid to change things. Too often I'm afraid of what I can't finish...or that I will make things worse.