Raised Beds: Part I

I constructed two different types of raised beds for growing vegetables, herbs and flowers a few years back. One was out of the Ikea shelving unit Hejne

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Dimensions: 78cm x 50cm x 171cm

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I had this at home already and only had to modify the way it was built to turn it into a planter.

Construct the shelving unit by shifting 2 of the 4 long posts so that they sit just outside the frame of the shelving unit and not flush with the edge as shown in the picture. (This will give you more room at the top side of the planter for plants.)

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Arrange the shelves so that they line the outside of the frame like the top shelf shown in the first picture above. You will need 6 shelf pieces:
Two on each long side of the planter with a gap in the middle, which we’ll address in the next step, and one on each short side.

The set only comes with 4 shelves so you will need to buy the expansion pack which adds an additional 2 shelves…

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You won’t be needing the metal brace pieces that come with the shelf set, so set those aside. You will need two additional pieces of cut wood the same width as your gaps (or wider is also ok) cut to 47 cm long.

You can use two cut pieces of an old pallet, which is what I used, or other scrap wood planks that are cut to 47 cm long. Nail them to the inside of the frame to fill in the gaps between the two shelves on the long sides of the planter.

You should now have a raised bed that looks something like this…

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This planter was very easy to construct as the shelves are already assembled when you buy the kit and just need to be faced outward along the edge of the frame to form a top and bottomless rectangular planting frame. Normally if you buy a raised bed for plants at a garden store they can run hundreds of dollars each. This planter cost me:

Hejne Storage System          Cost: € 25

Hejne Additional Shelves    Cost: € 9

Scrap Wood                            Cost: € 1

Nails                                         Cost: € 0.60

Total                                     Cost: € 35.60

Ylva’s Lamb

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Here’s a little lamb that I made for a friend’s daughter for her 3rd birthday….

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My 4 year old daughter, Anna, helped me stuff the little lamb with carded sheep’s wool.
(It seemed appropriate for the project and it is also much nicer and softer to use than polyester stuffing when making dolls and stuffed animals.)

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I used a free pattern from the site Pattern Bee called Little Lambkin.
The only changes I made to the pattern was that I printed it at 1 1/2 times its original size and added round pieces of fabric to the bottoms of each of the lambs legs to make him more realistic looking when he’s standing.

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I used white fleece for the main body fabric and brown velvet for the contrasting ear fabric, buttons for the eyes were sewn on with white embroidery floss and pink embroidery floss for the nose and mouth (both colors were sewn with double strands).

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I used less than a quarter of a yard of the white fleece fabric, scraps of velvet that I had left from another project, left over ribbon from last Christmas, and buttons and embroidery floss that I had in my stash already. The only costly item was the organic wool stuffing I used which came to about $5-7 for the total amount used in this project.

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It was a pretty straight forward sewing project and Anna had fun helping me with the little details along the way. The only trouble I had was the fabric was very stretchy and didn’t want to stay put while I was sewing the body together so I needed to use a lot of pins and patience to get the face and legs right. Overall it was a moderate to easy project to work on.

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Time wise this can be a weekend project if you have plenty of time to dedicate to it or can be finished up slowly over the course of a week or so.

Upcycle: Making a Planter From Bed Frame Slats

When we purchased the twin sized bed frame from Ikea for our second bedroom, in anticipation of having my family come to visit us here in Germany, it came with a set of sturdy, inflexible, wooden slats.

These slats, which are commonly used to support beds here in Europe, are placed within the bed frame and the mattress goes on top. It’s rather uncomfortable to sleep on top of hard wooden slats, as you can imagine, so most people here opt to buy the “flexible” bed frame slats which are much pricier but a lot more comfortable to sleep on. A set of new “flexible” slats can run from at least a hundred euros and upwards depending on the style you buy. This is the system that’s commonplace throughout Europe and it’s what they use instead of the box-spring concept that we have in the United States. Since my brother was coming to stay with us for the entire summer this year, he’s staying with us from May through early October, we decided to buy a set of more comfortable and flexible slats for our guest bed. We looked around online for an affordable set of second hand slats and found a barely used set, on ebay, for a fraction of the cost that we would have paid for them new.

We then sent the Ikea planks straight down to retirement in our basement store room. It seemed like they might end up living there indefinitely if it hadn’t been for an idea I had earlier this summer to build another planter for our balcony. I needed some untreated, lightweight wood to do that and was also looking for a way to upcycle these wooden bed slats, so it worked out perfectly. I don’t have any plans because I just made up this planter as I went along but if you’re using wood that you already have on hand, fit the dimensions of your planter to the materials you have. I also in the end decided to make the planter a little bit larger than I had initially planned so that I could utilize all the wood from the slats. This meant, however, that I would be just shy of the amount of wood I would need to finish the planter and would need to purchase an additional small length of  similar wood. I figured it was better to have a larger planter and spend an extra euro or two on wood than to have a smaller one with left over wooden slats that I would have no use for.

So here’s what you’ll need:

Light wood like pine, about 16-18 meters (I had 16 slats that were 96 cm x 7 cm x  2cm)

Hand saw

Hammer

Nails

Level

Straight edge or Speed Square

Work Bench or Sawhorse (or some level surface where you can cut the wood)

Pencil

*I had everything I needed except for the saw.

The saw plus the the small amount of wood that I needed to buy cost me altogether around 10 euros.

 

I utilized the full length of the slats for the bottom and two long sides of the planter, using 4 slats evenly spaced for each of these three sides.

 

I cut the remaining 4 long slats that I had into thirds for a total of 12 shorter pieces (each 32 cm long).

 

 
I used these pieces to make the vertical sides on each end of the planter.

 

Using 4 pieces for each of the vertical sides, I now had only four short pieces left.

(this is where I needed to buy a little extra wood to finish, approx. 1.92 meters)

I needed a total of 10 of  these short pieces to brace the inside of the structure and hold all the pieces together.

 

To brace each side of the planter I used two short pieces each, one on each end, to hold the sides in place.

I nailed the inside bracing pieces flush with the top on each end. I did the same on the bottom to give the planter a little extra height.

 

For the two long sides I adjusted the spacing between the boards to make everything evenly match up and then nailed them in place.

And voila, a new planter for my balcony!

All you need to do now is staple some garden fabric to the inside of the planter and add some soil!

Saw                           Cost: € 6

Wood                        Cost: € 4

Garden Fabric         Cost: € 3

Soil                            Cost: € 6

Total                       Cost: € 19