Over the long Labor Day weekend, the DreadBrewer and I were able to conquer one of the garden projects that has been on our To Do list for far too long: building a produce storage rack.
Until now, we’ve had to store our onion, garlic, and shallot crops in bins and boxes in the guest bathroom, not to mention the fact that our tub was totally full of onions. Not only did this present a problem if we had guests who had the crazy notion that they would perhaps like a semi-usable bathroom in which to brush their teeth, but it also seriously shortened the self life of our root crops due to lack of air circulation. We ran the vent fan fairly frequently to try and keep some of the moisture out of there, but we still lost about 25% of our harvest due to rot.
I looked into all sorts of storage possibilities in an attempt to find something that would help us preserve our harvest. The easiest option would’ve probably been just to buy a ton of panty hose and string the bundles up from the shower curtain rod, but panty hose are actually kind of expensive when you think about the fact that you use them once and then cut them up. I tried to find something we could purchase and use, but again, everything was more money than we wanted to spend. Finally I found these plans from Ana White that looked awesome. The plans only called for unfinished pine, which is pretty cheap, and were labeled as intermediate, which should be well within our capabilities, so DB and I decided that we would build our own food storage rack.
I have to say that the girls were so good while we were putting the rack together. They waited patiently in the morning for us to make the sides so we could go out and play in the yard.
They waited patiently in the afternoon for us to put the frame together so we could go out and play in the kiddie pool.
I didn’t get a picture of it, but they entertained themselves with baby dolls and play dough while we built the shelves. All in all, they were champs while we worked at this. We also couldn’t have done it without my mother-in-law coming over and reading them books while we cut the 108 pieces (!!!) needed to build the rack.
We finally finished the rack at lunch time on Sunday and everyone in the house was pretty darn excited.
The original plan was to put it in the guest bathroom but the stupid doorway is smaller than a standard doorway and we couldn’t get the rack through, at least not without dissassembling the front supports (which involve wood glue, finishing nails, and screws) and then reassembling it in place. So plan B has it in the spare bedroom for the moment until we decide where to put it for the duration. (I would like to point out that when we were confronted with the fact that the rack would not go through the door as planned, the DreadBrewer just laughed and moved on. I was tempted to throw a complete and utter shit fit and would have totally understood if he had done the same. I was very impressed with his poise.)
As soon as conditions outside cool down to less than 80 degrees, which makes it cooler than what we keep our thermostat set at, our plan is to move the rack out to the garage and reclaim the spare bedroom for Wally.
For anyone who is interested in perhaps building a produce storage rack of his or her own, a few things that the DreadBrewer and I learned along the way.
- The purchase list on the building plans calls for 14 1x3x8 boards; this is wrong and we learned this one the hard way. You need 18. There are at least two comments on the plan’s website pointing this out but the website author has yet to update the purchase list. (Perhaps 4 years hasn’t been enough time to figure out how to fix the list?)
- The purchase list also recommends that you buy pocket hole screws, as well as regular 2″ screws for the project. You don’t need pocket hole screws. (I never even knew these existed and they’re stupidly expensive, in my opinion.) Had we used them, we would have used a max of 4. Instead, we used 2″ straight finishing nails and the end result looks and functions just as well. The regular screws work perfectly fine wherever you need to screw two pieces of wood together.
- Read all the way through the directions before you even start cutting the wood. The X-braces are very confusing to make if you try to do it based off just the cut list and easy to mess up, which we learned the hard way as well. If you read the step for assembling the sides, which includes a diagram with measurements, it is much, much clearer how to cut your 2x2s.
- Plan on spending about $150 on supplies and about 5 hours total assembling this project. We were lucky enough to have a cut saw, a nail gun, and two electric drills at our disposal, as well as a couple of exceedingly patient little girls, a star mother-in-law, and two reasonably savvy workers. If you’re trying to do this on your own, you will certainly need clamps or somesuch set up to help you with holding things and it will most likely take you longer.
Depending on how ambitious DB gets with garlic and onion planting next year, we may actually need to build another rack to store everything. It would be interesting to tweak the plans a bit, maybe make the rack thinner and taller. (Then at least we would know it could get through the bathroom door, right?) Regardless of whether or not we end up building another rack, I am inordinately proud of the one we made. Not bad work for one weekend, eh?