Category Archives: Make

Planter Boxes

So, Missy and I are going to try to raise vegetables this summer. However, we’ve got kind of a tough yard – mostly shaded, pretty rocky. The only real flat spot has the boy’s playscape on it, though once they get a bit older, I think we’re having a bonfire and converting it to a garden.

So, our only real option left has been to build boxes and do some intensive container gardening. As it’s not yet May in Connecticut yet, we’re not completely behind the times. So, here’s today’s batch:

Planter Boxes for Veggies

I designed them to use standard 8′ lengths of lumber without much waste. The planting portion of each box is 7’x1’x1′, which let me use standard 8′ lengths of lumber. The sides are 1/2″x6″ roughcut from a local lumber store that sells them cheap in 16′ lengths. I cut a foot off of each board, and used that to make the ends of the boxes. I also cut a 2″x4″ into 1′ lengths and used that, with another 2×4 on each side, to brace the bottom of the boxes. Each box has a 4×4 at the corner, cut to fit a slope. I’m lining them with 5 mil plastic with some drainage through holes in the boards, and once they’re full of dirt, we’ll put in a soaker hose for watering.

The installed prototype is here:

Planter Boxes for Veggies

Missy started seeds this weekend, and I’ve got another 4 or so boxes to build. I think I’ll do an Instructable about putting the boxes together when I do the rest of them. Until then, it’s store-bought fresh veg.

Ring a ding!

As in let freedom…

Hey, hello, and Howdy! Life has been good at the Jankowski ranch up here in the wilds of Eastern Connecticut! So good, in fact, that I’ve been neglecting the blog, and, more importantly, the blogs of all of you. I’d like to blame work, but let’s not kid ourselves – the real fault lies with the absolutely, completely beautiful weather we’ve been having. I’m pecking out this little missive sitting on the deck waiting for Missy’s world-famous banana muffins to come out of the oven, having gotten up “early” (“early” being defined as “before the rest of the house, but clearly not before 0600”, as opposed to “at the crack of dawn”, which, as we all know, is defined as “so gawdaful late at night that the clock is confused and showing afternoon hours”) to take the newly re-finished kayak for a spin on the Mystic River.

Just a tip – as cool as the wooden kayaks look, I’m kind of wishing I’d sprung for a decent rotomolded one. Sure, it wouldn’t look as cool, and they’ve got issues of their own, but the cold hard fact of the matter is that for the plastic ‘yaks, maintenance consists of giving them a vigorous hosing out every couple of weeks, instead of mucking about with varnish and epoxy, and winding up on a rock isn’t excruciating for the whole rest of the paddle while you try to decide if you just scraped the varnish or if you actually broke some fiberglass (the thought that you’ve actually pierced the wood just doesn’t occur, as that requires MAJOR surgery to fix).

But that aside, it was great to have the boat back out on the water. I’d forgotten exactly how swift this one feels – within a couple of paddle strokes I was up at hull speed, which, for a 17’ boat isn’t anything to sneeze at. Did about 4 miles on the water – glass smooth, watching the cyclists and runners coming down River Road, which was a nice change in Point of View.

Oh, speaking of that – Sunday? While Nate took his nap, Jake and I headed down to River Road. I convinced him that he could ride his bike while I ran. He had doubts when I said that we were going to go at least 5 miles (it’s really, really flat), so I said “Hey, Jake – if you can make it for 20 minutes out, we’ll turn around and head back”. OK, says he. So, we go, and at 20 minutes, he begs to keep going until we get downtown. Rock on.

Halloween / Make


Originally uploaded by billjank.

Jake wanted to be an airline pilot. We built his plane out of a 12″ cardboard tube from the hardware store, some 1/4″ plywood, and wrapping paper.

Been a big fan of Make since it launched, and have been trying hard to get Jake and Nate to see the beauty of DIY. The costume was a hit at Mystic’s Halloween Parade. It was exciting for me to see a majority of “made” versus bought costumes.

There were two “Wow, wish I’d thought of that” constructions, though. One was a girl dressed as a princess. The “Wow” bit was the unicorn she was “riding” – it was hanging off of her, much like Jake’s plane, ‘cept it had legs that hung down that she kicked with each step, looking like the unicorn was walking.

The other was a family of 3 kids, oldest Jake’s age, youngest about Nate’s age. They’d converted the family wagon into the coolest pirate ship I’d seen in a while. The hull was wood-look corregated cardboard, like on a school bulliten board; the masts looked like cardboard tubes, with sheets or pillowcases hanging of yardarms as sails. Very cool.