Archive for recycled materials

a soil sieve

Tired of hand-picking buckets of stones and rocks out of my lousy top-soil I put together a soil sieve with materials that were left over from building the coop. This simple tool is a gigantic help as I plant six lavenders plants along the street. Lavender is drought-resistant, no? In any case … it should be popular with the bees …


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refinishing a butcher block

before heading to culebra (actually on the way to the airport) i picked up another craigslist freebie: an old butcher block. after two hours of work (sanding off the top and treating it with bleach) it looks like new. a great addition to my kitchen.

ps: the nice guy who gave away the butcher block also rents out his cabin in arnold.

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the weaver of culebra

An unusual 12 foot swell was washing away significant amounts of Caribbean sand on Playa Flamenco, thereby uncovering many years of trash that had become part of the dunes and that we would be collecting several hours each day. The ocean did reward us for our efforts: we found around $35, two pairs of chacos, a flotation noodle, and other treasures (including a 14K gold earring and a glow-in-the-dark rosary). Among our bounty was also a large coil of old and tangled rope that I felt would be useful for something. Sure enough: the next day I came across some camping chairs with ripped fabric that beach goers had left leaning against a garbage can. After 2 hours of untangling the Gordian knot in the old rope I start weaving new seats. The result is some sturdy beach furniture that I hope to still find here when I return next year.

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building raised beds

Before dad returns to Germany I use his help to build raised beds. All the materials are recycled and free. They are:

  • four reused pressure-treated 2 by 8 boards of 12 and 13 foot in length (free off craigslist)
  • several old and weathered beams of various size and length (found next to the curb)

Putting the frames together was easy. The harder part was leveling the ground and filling the beds. The excess top soil in my yard is sandy and full of stones but I hope mixing in enough horse poop will give decent soil. At the ranch where Karleen keeps her horse we load up my Vibe with as many buckets and boxes of horse manure as fit. After two trips (each time being literally “full of shit”) we have a solid 5 inch layer of poop. The rest gets filled with excess top soil. Next? Picking out the stones, covering the beds with straw, and planting a cover crop (Fava beans?) to prepare the soil for planting in spring.

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building a chicken coop from reused materials

I collected the following items for building a chicken tractor with a detachable chicken run:

  • a frame of a wooden coffee table (Karleen found it on the curb)
  • 20 recycled 5 foot 1×8 redwood boards (bought from a fencing company)
  • a stack of nail and screw prodded 2 by 4s (used to hold drywalls inside my garage)
  • the leftover semi-gloss latex paint (from painting my interior doors and windows)

The design of the tractor is determined by the coffee table that is the base of the chicken tractor. The size of the run is determined by the length of the 2 by 4s. Since dad is visiting I am taking a few days off work so we can build the coop together:

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craigslist treasures

Last night i picked up 4 wooden planks in san ramon that someone was giving away for free on craigslist. Eventually those will become the sides of my raised beds. To fit the 13 foot planks into my vibe I had to leave the back window open. I attached my headlamp in red-blinking-mode to the end of the planks because there was a 4 foot overhang. Fortunately it was late and there was little traffic on I-580. Craigslist is such an amazing resource for finding recycled materials.

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building a compost box from pallets

Today I built a giant and sturdy compost box from four wooden pallets that had been dumped on the curb just a few blocks from here. I even reused the nails. The wood is not treated and will eventually rot but it should last a couple of years (unlike the practically decomposed cardboard box that I had been collecting food scraps in).

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free oleanders

Dug up oleander plants in someone’s garden that were advertised for free on craigslist. The family who had just bought the adjacent house was worried that the toxic oleander leaves would harm their kids and dogs. After several hours of hard work 12 pink oleander plants line the pedestrian walk way alongside the property. An attempt in drought-resistant landscaping: I always admire the colorful oleanders found in California’s highway dividers. They flourish yet no-one ever seems to water them, or do they?

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moving into an emtpy house

there is nothing in the house but an oven range (that was put in for show by the sellers agent) and an electric water heater (that was ripped out of the garage). the previous owner had turned the garage into an one bedroom house (without city permits) that he rented out to help cover the ever rising sub prime mortgage payments. the city inspector made the bank convert the garage back before the sale. i asked the contractor to leave the electric water heater behind. i also asked them to leave me the nail and screw prodded 2 by 4s that were holding up the drywalls. one day i will use them to build a chicken coop.

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