Homestead Experiments (H.E.), helpful hints, and deep thoughts about our journey to a simplified life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A No-Power-Tool Needed Platform/Captain's Bed in Minutes!

Okay, so my creative Hubby wanted me to do a quick post highlighting his ingenius bed building idea. Since building this bed here, we needed to re-vamp the platform. While it was a supportive bed design, the wood rubbed and creaked on all of the different joints, which drove my sensory spouse crazy. His subsequent obsessing about the noise was enough to take me to Crazy-ville with him! We could have gotten some sort of traditional bed frame to put within the frame of our headboard and footboard (In the previous post I explain how our platform was basically free-standing and the boards and rails were purely aesthetic), but then I would have lost all of that glorious storage space underneath the heightened frame. Hmmm...

Then one day while wandering the aisles of the local home improvement store, it hit him like a ton of, well, shelves!  That's right, shelves! As in Sterlite shelves like these ones here. He took the measurements, and realized that if he put those together in a single layer formation under sheets of MDF, then it should make a great platform with storage included!  He bought two sheets of MDF and asked the store employee to cut them  into the proper dimensions for a queen sized bed. He bought two sets of the shelves, and came home with an optimistic air.

He arranged the shelves into pairs (one slab on bottom, one set of posts, and one slab on top). He arranged them in a 3x2 formation  so that I could slide my totes and boxes in from the sides.

He topped these with sheets of non-skid shelf liner before laying the MDF on top with a slight gap between (to avoid that dreaded rubbing), and then the bed skirt and mattress!  Added tip: A King-sized flat sheet is the PERFECT length for a bed this height! It touches the floor on each side exactly with no alterations needed! 


Now, just like my other bed, this one does sit higher than your average bed frame to accomodate the storage. A trade-off that is totally worthwhile in my opinion. Besides, there is just something that feels regal when you are truly "climbing into bed"! 

Because this idea can be so versatile, we've realized that it's kind of like the Lego version of bed frames! Since building this one for us, he also replaced the squeaky slat design in our son's hand-me-down captains bed by putting a single row of shelves within that frame.  We also plan to replace my daughter's regular twin bed with a shelving one to increase her storage. She doesn't have any kind of headboard or footboard, so it will be completely free standing with decorative storage totes to be her 'drawers', and I'm thinking of dressing up the shelves with decorative duct or washi tape. More on that later...

Hillary At Home

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

HE #36- Our DIY Composter

I desperately wanted a composter so that my gardening identity would feel more secure, BUT it needed to fit the following 3 requirements:

1) I needed to be able to turn it with a crank, or low enough to manually turn with a spade.

2) It needed to keep out those nasty slugs that seem to view my garden as their own Golden Corral buffet. Most people in these parts shy away from on-the-ground composters/compost piles because of  the imminent slug infestation that would then be shovelled into your garden beds later.

3) It would preferably be free, or pretty darn near close to free. (I've got a centsible identity to maintain as well, you know!)

With all of that in mind, this wonderful creation is what we devised! I combined multiple posts that I found on Pinterest and crafted this Frankenstein of DIY composter ideas. With the help of Farmer Boy (who can't resist a chance to use the drill), we got this together in under 20 minutes and I am so thrilled with it!
Our rather unassuming creation.

Here are the steps we took:

1. Buy/Scrounge 2 identical large totes.  They need to be the same style and size so that they nest inside each other.  Put one bin where you want your composter to ultimately sit and put spacers in the bottom of it. They need to be between 1-2" high. I used pre-cut PVC connectors that I got in the plumbing aisle at the home improvement center for about .50 each. You could use rocks, bricks, or whatever suits your fancy and your budget. They just need to be strong enough to support the other bin when it is filled with compost.
Take your other tote and drill holes all over that bad boy. I marked X's for my son to be able to aim his drill. These holes are for airflow.  Then, once you're all drilled up, cover those holes with duct tape. This will still allow for airflow, but will be a barrier to slugs or other critters wanting to join the party inside the tubs. It will looks something like this:

Now place the drilled tote inside the other one, on top of the spacers. Voila! A compost bin that is low enough to easily turn with a spade, and will keep out the slugs!  Just add your mix of brown items, scraps, and soil to get the party started. I also went and scrounged up earthworms from under rocks in my yard to help break things down.  While this wasn't free, I was able to make it for well under $20, and that sure beats the $150 price tag on the composter I saw at the warehouse store down the street!

We were worried about the smell because of the whole 'airflow' thing-especially since we have  a lot of bear traffic in our yard in the latter part of summer. We put this up in the corner of our deck, and we've been pleased to note that we can't smell it at all. In spite of the egg shells, veggie scraps,  and pulp from my juicing, this bin doesn't seem noticeable at all. Yay!

Now I saw pictures of crafty-types who painted their bins with lovely murals, or decorated it with patterened tape,etc. Mine is a very utilitarian gray since it's in a corner where it remains fairly unseen. However, knowing you can get as wild and crazy with this style of bin just adds to the DIY fun of it all, doesn't it? If you do make one and come up with an art masterpiece worthy of bragging rights,, then  I would love to see a picture of it!   Happy Composting!

Hillary At Home

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Our 2013 Garden and Mini-Experiments (a.k.a. "Really Cool Tips!")

Hello! We have been busy busy little gardeners, doing what we can to coax our little seeds out of their respective shells. Our starts did beautifully in their mini greenhouse, and are now safely tucked in pots and buckets inside our little greenhouse. Speaking of my new greenhouse. I ADORE it! It has become my little, quiet oasis in the midst of summer noise and chaos.  It's nothing fancy;  just one of those little quick-set kits that we got 2 years ago when they were on end-of-season clearance. I paid a whopping $30 for it instead of the original $149 sticker (so very centsible of me, if I do say so myself!), and have been anxious to set it up since.  However, last year with a newborn and a record-setting rainfall, I wasn't feeling my green thumb groove, and the kit stayed in it's box. That's just made me garden with pent-up demand this year!

Farmer Boy has been diligently helping his Mama set up the greenhouse and fill the beds with all sorts of roots and leafy greens! I love that farmhand wanna-be!  :)

Ta-Da! Greenhouse up, ready, and planted! I have since modified it by inserting two patches of window screen just below the point of the roof on the short ends in order to vent the excess heat. I just cut  a rectangle out of the plastic cover and taped in the scraps of window screen using thick plastic tape (and duct tape when I ran out of clear plastic).
Farmer Boy has been anxious to move his pumpkin starts out of the living room and into the greenhouse. We had thought we would put them in a pallet, but the pallet was too wide for the floor of our little structure. So, into some big pots they went, and I'm sure we'll have to thin as they grow. I am thinking I will rest squares of plywood between the pots as they start to vine. I am really trying to keep them up and away from the slugs that always seem to enjoy them before we can. (sigh)

We also planted tomatoes, peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, and strawberries. Now I am left with one empty shelf and pondering how I can fill it?! Maybe more zucc's?
  Yay! I finally got to plant my heirloom tomato seeds that I had saved two seasons ago! At the time I had filed them away, I was a garden newbie and didn't realize that seeds should be planted the following year. I had completely forgotten about them until recently, so we'll see if I get anything! (Fingers crossed)

 One rain gutter on the deck that is sprouting Black Simpson lettuce and green onions.

This one is sporting French Breakfast radishes and more scallions.

Potato buckets on the back deck awaiting planting this weekend. (The spuds are still sprouting in the bathroom cabinet :)

A hazy shot of the beds. This year we added three pallets and removed one swimming pool.
We have spinach and kale in the pallets. Beets, carrots, onion, sugar snap peas, and snow peas are in the beds.

TIP ALERT! We wrapped our unsightly swimming pool garden with a scrap of burlap after finding the idea on-line. It looks SO  much better, and I'm sure the neighbors are thrilled. However, as you can see, I need to go visit my yard with the weed-eater this weekend!

The greenhouse addition! If you look closely under the peak of the roof, you can see the window screen patch I mentioned above. There is one on the opposing wall, as well,  to allow for air flow and venting.

Love Love LOVE my herb garden. Pesto and salsa are definitely on my summer menu!

TIP ALERT #2! What a great way to re-use old jar lids! Thanks Pinterest and Pinners for this handy tip!

I'm actually really pleased with my front door this year. I love the mixed containers and accessories that make up our whimsical fairy garden. You can also see the beautiful rocks that the children in my Farmer Jr's Sunday School class embellished and handed out to the congregation on Easter Sunday.

Well, that's what we've been up to our eyeballs in doing lately. We are pooped, but pleased! I can't wait until the harvest begins!

Blessings to you and your Homestead,
Hillary At Home