Sunday, May 29, 2011

Creative weekend projects: getting crafty

Project 1: The veggie garden for small spaces

Decking frame plus polythene sheet provides tray for bucket plant pots

Thanks to an Urban Pantry talk (highly recommended), I learnt a great tip for getting veggie results even in the cosy corner of my deck which I like to call my "garden".  Square buckets.  That's right, it's time to clear up the eclectic mix of terracotta urns and quaint milk pails.  We waste less space and less water if we pack our plants in cubically.  Well, maybe I won't get rid of the eclectic mix just yet - I get sentimental about my plants and their unusual collection of pots!  But I was determined to try out the environmentally friendly approach as well.
The buckets were cheap (much more so than plant pots) but the challenge was working out a tray to hold water beneath them.  My low-tech solution is a frame of decking timber and polythene sheet liner.
Buckets 10 @ $2.50 = $25
Polythene (much more than I needed) = $7
Decking timber (cut into the lengths I needed in the shop) = $6
Basic power drill to put it all together and drill holes in buckets = $40 (but who's counting?  It's about time I owned more power tools...)
So my pea seedlings are happy, I'm happy and kitty is certainly happy!

Project 2: Cute cushions!

Piping and ties on the left, and on the right, laboriously quilted by moi!
Some have bold pattens on one side and ties on the other 

I can never quite find the right level of quirky colourfulness in bought cushions.  Or if I do, they cost a fortune. I was convinced I could do a better job myself.  If I'd known how much work it would be, I might not have started!  My darling and very creative sister has been an invaluable tutor and partner in crime.
I now have four cushions pretty much finished and two to go.  I just need to finish before Ross' mum comes back to NZ and wants her sewing machine back...
Fabrics, piping, thread, etc. = c.$60
Cushion inners = $30
My sanity while learning to quilt = priceless

Project 3: The worm tower

Installing the worms - bleurgh!

Actually, I can't take credit for this one.  But I have watched enthusiastically as my ex-biologist boyfriend has brought it to fruition.  It all started with Ranui Community Garden and Ben Cheah's passion as he told us about all the good worms can bring to your garden when you put worm towers in.
This is a little different than an above-ground worm farm - the tower is part buried in the soil and the worms are free to come and go through large holes.  It's a lot more difficult to get the "products" of worm-farming with this method - the casts and tea tend to end up going into the soil or are only gathered periodically.
However, it's practically free to create and they process all your compostable waste for you whilst also improving your soil - not bad, eh?
We're waiting to see if we've got it right - if the worms are happy, they'll stay!
Buckets = $5
Worms = gift of Ranui Community Garden
Garden fork to get through the solid clay which passes for soil around here = $11
Old egg cartons etc for bedding = free!

Project 4: a bit of greenery

Life needs a bit more pistachio green, don't you think?
My walls were bare, I needed some cheering up and fast!  Luckily Ikea came to the rescue.  I started with some cheap-as pine frames and then added green paint, green silk, some flowery green cotton, sponges, beeswax and a fair bit of PVA glue.  Ta dah!
It also helped that the nearby dollar store was having a closing down sale (Headline: Sue takes Ulster thriftiness to new levels - waiting til the dollar store is closing down before making her purchase...) and was selling beautiful green mounts at 60 cents each.  Bargain!
Frames and clock = c.$40
Printing my fave photos / maps / etc. = c.$4
Mounts and paint = c.$5
Everything else = scrounged!

Before you think I'm superwoman / a liar, I didn't achieve all of these in one weekend!  The worm tower and the planter are probably feasible one-day projects.  The cushions I wouldn't recommend to anyone who has a full time job!

Which is your favourite project?