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Who Needs a Desk, Anyway?

January 22, 2011

For the past twenty years, I’ve always had a desk (for a time, even two). With the exception of the first one, part of the ugly furniture that came with the flat where I spent my much of my childhood, all of them were built at home, always re-using the same three chests of drawers and some boards from the DIY store.

And yet, in all these twenty years, I rarely used those desks. I did my homework stretched out on the carpet or sitting on the roof of the garden shed. I wrote my stories sitting on the floor or in my hammock… The desks were mostly a place to dump stuff I was too lazy to put away.

It was only with the introduction of computers into the household that my desks began to be used with some regularity, and even then not happily – I’m simply unable to get comfortable in a chair.

And now that I have a laptop, the need for a desk is at last eliminated entirely – I’m sure I can find other places to dump the stuff I’m too lazy to put away.


But I still had those chests of drawers and those boards, so I took the opportunity to turn them into something else, something much more useful:

A potting table!

I’ve become increasingly fed up with having to do my repotting, pricking, propagating and so on crouched on the floor, on some old newspapers, or in a small box on the balcony. I’ve been vaguely jealous of Carol’s potting tidy, but now I had the opportunity to make something just as good. I had a free corner in my awkwardly-proportioned bedroom, I had a chest of drawers – a place to store seeds, tools, small bags of special potting mixes, fertilizers, some pots – I had plenty of boards I had no other use for, and I had my much-beloved jigsaw and electric screwdriver (some of the best gifts I ever got!) …

It’s a fairly simple construction. The trickiest bit was piecing the leftover boards together, as none of them were big enough for the back or sides. I’ll  probably close up the gaps with some of the caulk I got for the bathroom. The work surface is removable so that if the wood grows too damaged by damp (which it inevitably will, even though I painted it twice more in addition to the two or three coats of paint it already has from its previous life as desktop), I can turn it upside down or replace it. I’ve had quite enough of scratched hands and splinters under my fingernails.

But that – the minor injuries from damaged wood – was the only thing I didn’t like about the potting table at nursery where I was an apprentice. It was one of my favourite places, second only to the greenhouses with the houseplants. A day spent there with a nice colleague or three, repotting a greenhouse table full of Ficuses or Philodendrons – that was a fine day!

I won’t spend quite as much time at my little potting table, and I won’t hoist wheelbarrows full of potting mix onto it, but I’m looking forwards to having a proper place for all my plant-related tasks and materials, especially one where I don’t always have to clean up every crumb of dirt.

Now if only my friends and family would stop asking, ‘Why don’t you do that on the balcony?’ I’ve done that often enough, and it neither eliminates the crouching-on-the floor nor the need to clean up afterwards, and more importantly: Repotting houseplants? On the balcony? In the middle of winter?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 24, 2011 15:07

    It is just about a year ago that I came across you.
    And then I lost you again.
    Now I did a search for the same words I did on Feb 4th 2010, and I found you again.
    What goes around comes around.
    I’ll be careful not to mislay you this time 🙂

    • January 24, 2011 15:11

      Forgot to say: don’t remember where you are, but over here they sell thick plastic trawy, with a 8 inch back tapering to 3 inches at the front, which would just fit on the top there. So you can clean it and it keeps your nice wood dry.
      Gardencenters would have them.

      • February 14, 2011 23:19

        I’ve never seen anything like that anywhere here. But I don’t mind too much – like I said, that’s all old wood, and after its years as desktop, it’s scratched and scribbled on, too – and I prefer not having a raised edge at the front. Sure, some dirt will fall off, but I’d rather not have the edge press into my wrists when I’m pricking seedlings or get in the way when I need to knock a plant out of its pot. 🙂


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