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Garden Sign that says "the office"

The Potting Bench: A Gardener’s Office

Gardeners who enjoy sowing seeds, transplanting seedlings and generally just playing in the dirt (so to speak) need our own space, a place where the serious work of propagation can be accomplished. We need a destination for when we just have to go outdoors. (You know who you are!) We need a place of purpose, a space to be creative. We need: AN OFFICE!Outdoor potting bench

A potting bench is the answer; a place where you can have your tools at the ready, so that when inspiration strikes, you’ll be organized and prepared. To be efficient, you don’t need an elaborately designed system, or one that costs a lot of money (dollars better spent on seeds or plants). What you do need in a potting bench is comfort, quiet …… and the joy that can be found in nurturing young plants.

Potting benches can be made of countless designs, materials or sizes, but there are some basic features that will make your work area efficient and comfortable; a place you’ll love to spend time playing with your plants!

Here’s what makes a great outdoor “office”:

* Shade, shade, shade! This is Florida, and few gardeners want to spend time working in a hot sunny area. Shade can be provided by the canopy of a tree, by shade cloths, even an over-sized beach umbrella. Locations on the east side of your home can help avoid the hot western sun. You can create a simple structure with four 4×4 posts joined on the top by crossing strips of wood. A shade cloth (doubled for extra shade) “woven” between the cross pieces will provide ample shade.Outdoor Potting Bench* Your bench’s working surface should be placed at a comfortable height for you. The height of a kitchen counter is a good place to start but, depending on your height, can be adjusted. Some people like to work in a standing position; some prefer sitting. Either way, place your surface high enough to practice good posture, but low enough you can see over your work. Experiment with different heights before committing to permanence.* Locate your potting bench near a water source (water spigot or rain barrel).

* To prevent standing water, your hard surface should consist of boards with spaces between; or if you use a solid surface, position it slightly on a slant.Outdoor Potting Bench
* Include a water-proof way to store potting medium, rooting hormone, and fertilizer. An inexpensive outdoor cabinet, or a heavy-duty plastic bin with a cover will work fine.

* Tools to have handy (also in water-proof storage): trowel, snippers, scissors, serrated knife, kitchen fork and soup spoon, string).

* Other helpful items to keep handy: watering can, outdoor table or shelves for newly planted containers, small trash can, tray to collect and return excess potting mix to original container, clean empty pots and containers.Outdoor Potting Bench
* Personalize your potting bench area with wind chimes, fairies or gnomes, art, signs or other fun “stuff”!

* Do you have small children? Introduce them to the love of plants and nature, by including a small workspace for them!Outdoor Potting Bench

Gardeners, are you tired of propagating your plants by kneeling on the ground, and running back and forth to the garage for pots, potting soil and tools? Create your own “office” – your own efficient work center – a potting bench. You’ll be glad you did! Happy Gardening!
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This blog post was written by Master Gardener Molly Griner under supervision of the Master Gardener Coordinator and Residential Horticulture Agent Anne Yasalonis.

For more information, contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at (863) 519-1041 or visit us online at http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk.  The Plant Clinic is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm to answer your gardening and landscaping questions. Visit us in person, give us a call, or email us at polkmg@ifas.ufl.edu.

The Florida Master Gardener Program is a volunteer-driven program that benefits UF/IFAS Extension and the citizens of Florida.  The program  extends the vision of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, all the while protecting and sustaining natural resources and environmental systems, enhancing the development of human resources, and improving the quality of human life through the development of knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and making that knowledge accessible.

An Equal Opportunity Institution.

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