potting bench ergometric and functional

mrtulinJuly 4, 2012

I need suggestions and plans for a functional, comfortable to use potting bench. If this isn't the right forum please suggest a better one or a website.

But if you have preferences and recommendations based on experience, I welcome them. I'll go ahead and list some requirements b/c all of you have dirty hands and experience

My parameters so far are: it can be 6 feet long. What is a functional depth that will accomodate the following: I mix potting soil, and don't want to bend down and into bags or bins. How to store easy-access quantities of medium at work table level? I'm having trouble visualizing this, though I've seen this work at greenhouses. (I answered my own question. Go to a greenhouse)

What else is a requirement, based on your experience, for a comfortable functional potting bench?

Thanks! Idabean

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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Well, I can't really be of much help on this, but one thing caught my eye in your post - mixing potting soil and not wanting to bend down. I have seen potting benches that have what resemble sinks in them (bins that are below the surface but the top of the bin is level with the surface) so you can mix and use potting soil at that level. My opinion of these is that the theory is great, but the size of the bins is way too small, if you were to buy a pre-made one. But if you are designing and building your own you could conceivably make it a more realistic and functional size.

Dee

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 11:35AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

only for you

i went thru 10 pages at the hosta forum.. to find this link ...

i really liked the recycled sink deal ...

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 12:40PM
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mytime(3/4 Alaska)

I have found the tubs shown on the link below to be invaluable...I think they're actually for mixing mortar, but I bought some when they were on sale, and like them so much I'm even willing to pay full price. If the link doesn't work well, search home depot for "mixing tubs"...it's the black tubs I'm talking about. Anyway, probably no one else would want my potting bench, but the tubs could be used with any potting bench in place of a sink. The great thing about them for me is that not only do they hold a lot without me having to bend, but after potting season, they become tubs under my tomato pots so that I can water quickly and easily.

Here is a link that might be useful: mixing tubs

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 1:19PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Yep, that's kinda what I was thinking of, but again, IMO, that mixing bowl/sink area is way too small. If I was doing any serious work at a potting bench, I'd want a bigger area for that function. Otherwise you'd just be refilling it constantly. I suppose that means more infrastructure and support, etc., but for my dream potting bench, that's what I'd want. And a cover for that spot, so I could use it as work space when not dealing with the stuff in the sink area.

Maybe I'm spoiled because I do some work on a farm and we have a big (about 3' x 2' x 6-8" deep) cement mixing bin to use as a potting mix container, but I like having the space to work. IMO, the biggest fault with so many things made for gardeners is that they are not big/sturdy/functional enough. Like those compost sifters that are about 12 inches square and 4 inches deep. Come on, really?

Dee
whose dream potting bench would take up the entire wall of her garage... :)

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 1:26PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Oops, mytime posted while I was typing! But yes, I think that's what we have at the farm, or something similar. Easily holds at least one bag of potting mix, probably more.

If you were to use one of these *on* a bench, your ergonomics might be a bit off, on a standard height bench; I believe most pre-made benches I've seen are counter height or higher. At the farm, we work on a table that with the mixing bin lets us work comfortably at just below waist level.

Just something to keep in mind if you go that route. If you are buiding your own bench you of course have lots more leeway regarding height. Or heights - why not go for a bi-level potting bench, lol?

Dee

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 1:36PM
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dowlinggram

I've given this some thought every time I'm squeezed in my small greenhouse transplanting.

If I were building a potting bench I would want my soil inserted in the bench. I keep my soil in a tote tub with a lid. It holds a lot of soil. If it were sitting on a shelf underneath and the hole in the bench were cut so the rim of the tote sits on the bench it would hold the weight. This would be at one end of the bench. In the middle would be a large mixing container. I use a large old roaster to mix my soil with water. If at all possible I'd rig it so water is piped in from my rain barrels outside. On one end I'd have hooks to hold any tools I might need and a towel rack to hold an old towel to wipe my hands. Under it would be shelves to hold pots and trays my transplanter fertilizer, spray bottle and small watering can

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 5:04PM
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mrtulin

Thanks, especially for doing some web search for me. My husband is building the shed. The interior won't get finished until next year so we have some time to consider this.
Yes....the tub. The ones I've seen were way too small. When I mixed my "gritty mix" I used good sized plastic pots as measures.....any fewer 4 pots of each ingredient (turface, grit, compost) was a waste of stirring. Mixed in wheelbarrow. Still had to do three batches. But more would be too much for my 63 year old rotator cuff cause that stuff is heavy!

I also realized the depth of the table is important....the dimensions of yours, Digger, reminded me of that. Unfortunately, the shed is "only" 10 x 12."

I just love, love the way all the funky sheds look. I keep talking about using funky old stuff, but dh says he's not going use us old things that are harder to operate than new, for instance the old wood storm door that is warped and needs to be shaved or shimmed every year) Also, that questions of curtains for the bottom shelves. They would drive me nuts. I'd be pulling down the curtain rods to get at stuff. The older I get the more I want to see things, not look for them. Functionally, many of those 'charming' tool sheds are hazardous....I'd be tripping on uneven bricks, walking into rakes. But a comfy chair and a mini frig....that's functional! (right now, however, no electricity. I'll fight that squirmish later in winter when I want a space heater and we have no power.
Marie
Idabean

Darn, I wish I 'd taken a before pix. I'll get my daughter to keep photo records of our work in progress.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 5:07PM
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maozamom NE Ohio

I bought an old enamel kitchen sink with drain boards on both sides. This works great for me. My DH hooked cold water to it and we use a bucket to catch the gray water. We used the measurement from kitchen counters for both depth and height. I'm now looking for an old double laundry tub on legs to hold potting mix and compost. From Garden Tour June 23, 2012

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 6:52PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

That sink is awesome! Gee, that's nicer than the one in my kitchen, lol. The double laundry tub is a great idea for storing/hold soil, but do you plan to work in it? Seems it would be bit low and may be tough on the back (heh, kinda like laundry in the old days!)

Mao tse mom, where is this awesome sink? I see cinderblock walls - is it in your basement? I don't have a shed, sadly, but on the upside I could have (and plan to have) an entire half of my large garage. I cleaned out half of it two years ago, put in a nice long table along the wall, and arranged my pots and collapsible vegetable trellises and other storage for the fall, and in the spring my husband promptly moved his new boat into MY space! Humph! The nerve! So now I have to clean out the other side of the garage for myself, and am definitely taking notes on this potting bench thing!

Dee
P.S. Marie, the cement mixing tubs are about 2, 2.5 feet deep or across. Couldn't you fit a counter that deep in your shed? You'd want something deep enough to work comfortably, no? Hey, even if you can't fit the tub into the scheme more permanently, you could have one end of the surface be about 8 inches lower than the rest, for about three feet. You could place the tub here and work comfortably and it would be at counter level.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 8:17PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I love the idea of a potting shed, but after a long time of considering whether it was worth the trouble and taking up the space, I decided against it. We do have a garage and really I have enough room there to store what I need. I also have a large butcher block commercial table from a commercial kitchen with steel legs and an under shelf.

And I thought a long time about my own personal work habits in the garden. I find that I like to work where ever I am, instead of going back and forth to a shed/potting table. I also like to have common tools handy in the garden. Of course, that is during the growing season. During the winter months, I guess a warm shed, with enough room and light to start seedlings might be worth thinking about, but then again, why not just go for a greenhouse? Then I thought about taking care of a greenhouse, etc....and before you know it, I had talked myself out of both a shed, and a greenhouse. (g)

That was about 6 years ago and I am very content with the way I work in the garden at this point. But I realize many people would really make use of either the shed or greenhouse. I am very happy with our arrangements for potting soil. We make up large batches of potting soil in the wheelbarrow. Peat moss, perlite, compost, etc. and then we store it in a large galvanized metal can with a cover from Lowes. This has worked out the best out of all other methods we used in the past. I guess the emptier it gets you are bending over to get at it.

You could still mix up a batch in the wheelbarrow which is about waist high and if you are making a potting bench, what about having pull out drawers right under the work surface that you can fill with your potting soil?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 9:22PM
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maozamom NE Ohio

The bench is in an old hen house. It's 12.5"x 18", so I have plenty of room for a daybed, rocking chair, and potbelly stove. From Garden Tour June 23, 2012

Would you believe we let this building sat empty for about fifteen years? The door frame was broken and I couldn't even get in it. My DH also wired it with electricity which made it a good place to work.

The link is an example of what I'm looking for.
One sold at an estate action in my neighborhood just last year and I was too stupid to think of a use for it. It would be for storage and would roll to the sink.

Here is a link that might be useful: double tub

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 9:46PM
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maozamom NE Ohio

Duh, 12.5 x 18 feet not inches.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 9:50PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Let me wipe the drool off my chin before I continue...

Wow, that is just absolutely charming. I am very jealous. Even if there were nothing inside it is the ultimate garden ornament, lol.

Yep, that's exactly what I had in mind when you mentioned the laundry sink. Bet you can find one for free on freecycle or a good price on craigslist.

Dee

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 10:05PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I have a purchased metal potting bench that has a "sink" in it for soil but I never use it as it is way too small. I haven't even opened the lid in years.

Would one of those compost tumblers work well to mix soil?

I'm lucky, decent potting soil is available here and I have not seen the need to do more than add more perlite occasionally.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 12:13PM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

This is my bench I created from an old steel kitchen cabinet. I paid $75 for it, cleaned it up and painted it. It works extremely well. The knobs are just art. :) My potting soil is in the garbage can to the left so there is some bending required, but not much. I have a garden hose within easy reach (not the one you see in the distance, but one that is right behind me when I am facing the bench) and a slop bucket in the cabinet beneath the sink. A lot of excess soil goes down the drain, but it doesn't matter. It all gets poured on a thirsty plant or patch of lawn.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 2:13PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

you could use this for a sunken work space.. and use it the the yard.. when you need it ... lol

ken

and my green version

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 3:06PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I use a plastic garbage can lid to hold weeds and then carry them to the yard debris can. :)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 4:19PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Mine isn't very stylish but it works really well when I get into some serious potting up or perennial dividing, I need lots of room :). It was built to a height comfortable for me either standing or sitting on a stool. It's made from half a sheet of plywood (cut lengthwise) and it's hinged to 3 posts in my lathhouse, it hangs down out of the way when not in use and when I want to use it it's lifted up and held by chains at each end. I took a picture of one end in it's up position. This could be hinged to a wall inside or outside of a potting shed. Annette

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 5:25PM
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mrtulin

I had not checked for replies in a long time. Thank you everyone for taking the time to answer.
Marie

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 12:59PM
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