Dear MOTHER: October/November 2015

Reader letters about rotational grazing in city parks, DIY garden bench plans, solar ovens, safe chicken coops, Lyme disease, homesteading without money, and more.

| October/November 2015

  • DIY Potting Bench
    Matt Kinsey and his children did a great job following MOTHER’s DIY potting bench plans to construct a special, homemade Mother’s Day gift.
    Photo by Matt Kinsey
  • Trumpey Family Home
    The Trumpey family saved money by building their straw bale home themselves.
    Photo by Oliver Uberti
  • Mille Fleur Bantams
    Mille Fleur bantams, like all chickens, need protection from hungry predators.
    Photo by Flickr/Normanack
  • Salatin and Foreman
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR presenters Joel Salatin and Pat Foreman are beloved mentors to homesteaders across the country.
    Photo by Bryan Welch

  • DIY Potting Bench
  • Trumpey Family Home
  • Mille Fleur Bantams
  • Salatin and Foreman

Potting Bench Success

I read MOTHER EARTH NEWS regularly, and the DIY project from the article DIY Potting Bench Plans in the April/May 2015 issue caught my attention. My wife, Tracy, is an avid gardener, but we didn’t have a place to store and organize our tools, pots, seeds and supplies. The bench seemed like a cool Mother’s Day gift idea and a creative way to engage our three kids in a hands-on project.

I spend a good portion of my days at the computer, but I’ve found that nothing feeds the soul like working with your hands! To build the bench, I worked one-on-one with each of my kids, teaching them a few woodworking basics — starting with rules for safety.

The project provided a few memorable days away from the iPads and TV screens that too often consume people in this day and age. Plus, Tracy absolutely loves the bench. For me, the best part is spotting all the minor imperfections from the kids’ work — the dents, scratches, split wood, and a bent nail or two. The imperfections likely aren’t noticeable to anyone besides me, but they’ll provide a lasting memory of those fun days we spent working together in the garage. Everyone who stops by our house comments on how awesome the bench is and they ask, “Was it a kit? If so, where can I get one?”

Matt Kinsey
Winchester, Massachusetts

This DIY potting bench was designed by master woodworker Spike Carlsen, author of The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects. Review his free potting-bench plans. — MOTHER EARTH NEWS

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