cleverchickadee


Bucket List by quornflour

Bucket List (Originally posted on Quornflour.wordpress.com).

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For an upcoming project I need some food safe, water tight buckets.
Now I could go to Home Depot and buy a few Homer Buckets and call it a day: but that seems ridiculous, especially since they don’t need to be orange and I don’t want to pay to advertise for someone. (When I bought my Wrangler I removed all traces of the dealer, even the hitch cover which in hindsight I wished I had just spray painted, but oh well.)
I have a few buckets that I use for my recycling and dog food and kitchen laundry, which I figured I could use in a pinch, but first I figured I’d see about acquiring a few.

Did You Say Free?

Now you can get buckets from lots of restaurant and catering places that order large amounts of food supplies, especially pickles, croutons, protein powder and teriyaki.
I have had the best luck acquiring buckets from sandwich shops.
All you need to do is call (or stop in) and ask, now don’t do this during the lunch or dinner rush or they might stomp ya.
It is a good idea to call first because a lot of places don’t keep around what they don’t need, so you might need to ask them to save them for you. A smaller place may go thru a bucket a week or so, so if you need multiple call around.
Be sure to let them know if you need lids as sometimes they get separated.
I have run into places that charge a small amount for their buckets, if it is a mom and pop type place I am ok with it, if it is a chain, forget about it!

What’s that smell?

It is important to note that these buckets are plastic (not BPA free as far as I know), so they will most likely smell like whatever they were originally used for.
Generally a little time in the sun will remove significant smells and over time the smell will dissipate, so keep this in mind and time things accordingly.

I am super happy about my acquisition and after they sit outside for a day or two I will get some good use out of them!



Bottle Cap Table by quornflour

A few years back I decided that I needed more color in my life.

If you knew me you might laugh at that statement. Anyway.

I always liked bottle cap art. The way they are used in shrines and other art forms to add a bit of color here and there. So I decided that I wanted to cover a table in them.

One of the things I liked about the idea of a table covered in bottle caps, is that crown caps (most commonly used for beer and “fancy” sodas,) is that they are all the same size.

Most of the instructions I found called for gluing, or putting them in a frame and then covering them with a lacquer or epoxy.

I wanted the texture.

First it came to collecting bottle caps. This table takes roughly 3.8 beers per day for a year, so either get drinking or ask for friends to help.

I had friends all over saving bottle caps for me, so that I could get a nice variety.

Then I picked up some ¾” – 1″ Crown Bolt Weather Strip nails, I got a mix of brass, copper and nickel. The caps are about a ¼” high so you need them to be able to go thru the cap and then into the table. Be careful not to get finishing nails since you will need something with a flat top to lay flush against the cap.

I also needed a table, so I searched on craigslist for the jokkmokk table from IKEA, it is made of pine and fairly inexpensive to start with and a pretty sturdy table, (I also use one for my sewing table).

Often you can find them for around 50-100$ usually missing a chair. It is about 150$ new, so avoid paying more than it sells for in the store.

Really most any pine table would work, this was just fairly cheap and accessible.

Pine is good because the wood is soft enough to pound the nails into and the jokkmokk is just the right size to evenly place bottle caps is you need it to be straight.

So in addition to loads of bottle caps and nails you will need a hammer and needle nose pliers.

Trust me, trying to use your fingers instead of pliers will only lead to tears.

If you want to paint the table, do so before you start. I painted mine black with a matte water based enamel.

Start at a corner and work your way around the table, try to keep them evenly spaced and count to make sure you have the same number along the sides. If you want to be super meticulous you could make a grid, but I was just winging it, so I didn’t.

It is super helpful if you can get a second set of hands for the border to help hold the nails in place, or make some starter caps, by putting the nail into the cap separately so that you can hold it in place with your hand.

Place the nail at the center of the cap holding with the pliers and hammer into place.

Once you have your border in place, lay out the rest of your bottle caps then working your way around the outside of the table work inward, nailing each cap in place. This takes a while, but in the end it is totally worth it.

If you wanted to you could then set these with an epoxy or lay a glass top over it, I didn’t bother because I like the texture and how it ages over time, because the caps are the same size the table top is even.

You may want to invest in a steam pressure cleaner in the event you ever plan to clean this.

I also painted the chairs to add to the color and I use it in my kitchen.

Simplified instructions

You will need:

Getting to work

  1. Place first bottle cap at the corner of the table.
  2. Using needle nose pliers hold nail at the center of the cap, hammer into place.
  3. Works your way around the table into the center, lining up each cap as you go.


Apartment Garden, Episode 4: Watering by quornflour

So far my garden experiment this year is going fairly well. We have had some really nice weather matched with serious downpours. My kind of summer!

That said: I have a neighbor who LOVES watering. I have even see her water after a rainstorm. Because the drainage in my bucket garden is different than it would be in the ground, my plants seem to be getting a little overwatered. There is no stopping her and I suppose it is better than everything just drying out. Regardless we have fruit!

I have a few tomatoes that have started, they are super tiny, but it is a start. My pepper plants are flowering so I am hoping for a few peppers. The cucumber plant has flowered again. The first never fruited, but the plan seems stronger now. I am not sure if there is another cucumber plant, but that might be necessary. I cannot remember if they can self-pollinate.

The herbs are doing well. Well except for the cilantro. Again, everything seems really wet. I have been moving buckets around the yard to try and dry things out. I am hoping nothing gets watered by a hose and asked Lil’ to avoid watering anything since it will just get watered again.

I have some ideas for improving the layout next summer and additional hopes that the tree that is blocking my sun will fall down in a storm (crashing though only a few fences, since there really is no place for it to go that is not a roof). I am going to see if I can score some pallets and maybe build a planter box on casters so that I can move things into the driveway for more sun on the hot days.

At any rate, so far this is way more successful than last year, even though it will by no means be a “bumper crop” of anything except perhaps basil. Good think I love basil.



Apartment Garden, Episode 3: Planting by quornflour

Last summer I attempted a little balcony garden planting seeds and swapping seedlings.

I was successful in the indoor sprouting phase and even getting them up to plantable size, but then I was gone and the weather was crap and the place I wanted to grow them was not really the best spot.

Overall however: I failed.

This year I am trying it again and have done things a little differently:

First, I rounded up some neighborly help from another resident in my building, my friend and neighbor Melissa. This way there will (hopefully) be at least one person around to tend to the plants.

Second, I did not plant seeds, and rather picked things up here and there, friends with seedlings, Melissa had a few she planted and got from friends, and I picked up a few at farmers markets.

Third, I found a new spot to plant everything. I asked, (ok more like announced) my land lady if I could use part of the back yard to plant. Not only did she agree, though she is a greater fan of roses and flowers than veggies, but she also offered up two plastic pools that were otherwise going to be trashed and a number of old puts that she had. I also managed to get some pots from my neighbor.

So after all of this was sorted out, I headed to the nursery and bought dirt. I had a fair amount of dirt from last year so I mixed my new dirt with my old dirt. My neighbors all commented on the smell. I had picked up organic soil, which had a much richer smell than the soil they had used.

Next I sorted out buckets, some needed drainage, so I used a screw driver and a mallet to puncture a few holes in the bottoms, the holey buckets would then be placed in the pools so that the excess water is not wasted and on hot days can be watered from the bottom without risk of burning the leaves if things get too dry. I will need to keep an eye on this with rain to ensure I do not end up with a breeding ground for mosquitos.

Of course after I got everything in it has decided to rain for the week. It is good though, I need to add drainage to one of the smaller individual pots and it buys a little time to get marigolds to help with pest control. In the few days that they have been in their pots, they all seem happier.

I am optimistic.



Apartment Garden, Episode 2: Seedling Swap by quornflour

It is great and even easy to start your own plants, the trouble is, when you buy seeds to get SO many, and sometimes they all sprout up. Then what?

Either you end up with loads of extra seeds or a garden full of one type of plant, right?

There is another option: The Seedling Swap.

It is sort of like a Christmas Cookie swap, where you bake a bunch of cookies then go to someone’s house and trade out, but you can do the same thing with seedlings.

It just so happened that my friend Scott also planted seedlings this year, and it also just so happened that he planted the stuff I wanted and had not planted, and it just so happened he too had extra!

The other great thing is if you start your seedlings in egg cartons, they are almost already to go, just take some paper scissors: if you do not know what I am talking about here then you probably are not a sewer with separate paper and fabric scissors so do not worry about it.

Take your seedlings and cut the cartons up to make a nice mix of plants in a tray, and ta-dah! you have a nice tray to trade.




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