February 2015 Archives

How to Make an Outdoor Hanging Day Bed

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By Susan Patterson

An outdoor hanging daybed is a great place to take a nap, read a book, or even spend a night under the stars. With a little time and carpentry experience, a beautiful day bed can be created using 2-by-4-inch lumber.

• 2-by-4-inch lumber
• Measuring tape
• Circular saw
• 3-inch wood screws
• Drill
• Sander
• Wood stain or paint
• Paintbrush
• Four 4-inch lag screws with an eye
• Heavy-duty Nylon Rope
• Heavy duty Chain and s hooks
• Outdoor cushion or mattress

1. Measure and cut six 2-by-4-inch boards to measuring 43-inch long. These will be the short sides of the support.
2. Measure and cut two 2-by-4-inch boards to measure 83-inches long. These will be the long sides of the support.
3. Measure and cut 12 2-by-4-inch boards to measure 85-inches long. These are the slats for the daybed.
4. Arrange two of the short supports and the two long support boards on a flat surface to form a rectangle. The longer boards should come over the ends of the shorter boards. All four of the boards need to be resting on their sides.
5. Screw the support rectangle together using two 3-inch wood screws at each corner. Screw through the long boards and into the ends of the short boards for the tightest hold.
6. Place the remaining four short supports inside the support rectangle evenly spaced. Screw them in place the same way you did the other support boards.
7. Place a slat across the support frame. The slat should overhang equally on both ends, and 1-inch over the long edge. Screw the board in place using one screw in each of the short supports.
8. Install the remaining slats the same way you did the first, leaving a 1/2-inch gap between each one.
9. Sand the edges of the daybed smooth and apply a paint or stain to protect it from the weather.
10. Drill a pilot hole and screw a lag bolt into each corner of the day bed. This will be for attaching rope.
11. Cut two 10-foot lengths of heavy-duty nylon rope. Thread the first piece of rope through the two lag bolts on one side of the bed then tie the ends together with two overhand knots. Repeat on the other side of the bed.
12. To hang the bed, find a sturdy tree branch that is about 10-20 feet off the ground. Put two large lengths of chain around the branch about 6-feet apart. Place an "S" hook at the end of the chain and hang the bed to the hooks using the nylon loops. The bed can also be hung from a sturdy deck or even a screened porch.
13. Check the rope regularly for signs of wear and replace as needed.
14. Place an outdoor cushion or mattress on the daybed.

Susan is a Master Gardener and a sustainable living researcher. With a background in nutrition and extensive knowledge of whole foods and wellness, Susan incorporates sustainable living practices that will improve the health of her family while reducing their carbon footprint. Follow her on Google+

What My Dead Peas Taught Me


By Sarah Mooney

As a novice gardener, one technique I have adopted to help me learn is to just go for it. My peppers, chives, and pumpkin plants are thriving on one side of my garden, while on the other side the sugar snap peas hang browned and shriveled, with only subtle hints of life. While some might view this as a setback, I am seeing it as an opportunity to learn about what is going wrong.

With a little research I discovered that my timing is all wrong. Temperatures have reached into the 90s this summer, and for a plant that thrives in cool weather this is detrimental. In order for me to have successful pea production, I should have planted the seeds as early as Saint Patrick's Day. A good guide for starting peas is to identify your last frost date, and plant a month before that. Your pea plants will even be able to survive snow fall. This is not to say that your peas will not survive in the summer heat; I have read that this is possible. Some varieties actually prefer warm weather, however my sugar snap peas clearly do not.

Luckily, despite my huge miscalculations with my peas, I will still have a chance at success. Starting in August, seeds can be sewn and nursed through the end of the summer heat to yield results in the fall.

What should I do to prepare my soil for planting peas?

It is important to note that peas do not need an excess of fertilizer, since they do not do well with an abundance of nitrogen. Peas do like phosphorus, which can be added by scattering bone meal onto your beds.

Make sure you have good soil drainage. This can be determined by creating a hole about a foot deep into the ground and filling it with water. Once it drains completely, fill it a second time and measure the amount of liquid that is able to drain over the course of an hour. If your water is draining at a rate greater than two inches per hour, your soil drainage is adequate.

Add organic material such as grass clippings, dead leaves, compost, etc. to enhance the quality of your soil. Doing this in the fall allows an ample amount of time for your organic material to break down for the next growing season.

Adding wood ash to your soil can also enhance your pea crop because it contains potassium, which is necessary for the success of many plant varieties.

It is good to get in the habit of checking your soil pH every couple of years. Your local garden store should have kits, or you can find them online. You could also seek the assistance of a professional. Peas prefer a pH that is close to neutral, in the 6.0-7.0 range.

Always refer to your seed packet before planting. This will provide you with great information about your specific pea variety, such as when you should plant, seed spacing, sun requirement, and even recipes. No two pea cultivars are the same, so paying attention to detail can offer insight into the personality of the type you have chosen. If you do make mistakes, do not be discouraged. You can choose to look at your dying plants as failures, or you can see them as a valuable teacher.

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