This is was going to be a post featuring a beautifully detailed and in-depth tutorial about how to build a sturdy, functional potting bench for nothing.
But then I realized that the potting bench I just built wasn't quite "nothing"... so far I've spend $2. on a piece of 2x2, and a few dollars more on hardware.
And I also realized that my in-depth tutorial might have some fairly significant gaps because I'm so terrible at taking pictures as I go along. (In other words I don't have a single picture of how it was built... I was having too much fun building it to take pictures!)
But anyway... for what it's worth... here's the slightly condensed version of how you can build a sturdy, functional potting bench for $10.
You start by making a quick sketch on the same envelope that holds your to-do list. (Yes, one of the tasks on my to-do list was super glue the car... don't ask... when your car is almost 20 years old it sometimes requires a little extra creativity when it comes to repairs.) Having the sketch on your to-do list guarantees you'll be looking at it often and inspired to start building.
Figure out a rough idea of the size of your potting bench (mine was determined by the space it would occupy on the back porch and the size of the scrap of plywood I found to use for the top.)
Then look in your stash of wood scraps saved from various projects... your carefully hoarded bits and pieces of wood that might-be-good-for-something-someday. When you don't find enough long pieces of wood there, check your barn and garage (and the neighbor's trash, if necessary) until you have enough for the main form of your potting bench.Then keep digging for more wood, measuring, cutting and assembling (no longer looking at the little picture you'd made because you've misplaced the envelope), making it up as you go along.... until have something that looks like it might be useful.
Don't forget to enjoy the amazing spring day as you work.
Run to Home Depot for hinges and hooks because even with the decades of stuff stored in the barn and garage you can't find any that will work and life is too short to waste time searching for a $2. set of hinges.
Add some sturdy hooks on one side to hold gardening tools.
Neglect your children (only slightly) while you finish building your creation...
Use a bit of exterior paint to paint the shelf boards if, like me, you used scraps of pre-primed 1x3's for the shelving. It will cover up the glaring white of the primer.
Stand back and admire your work...
.. and maybe re-pot a plant or two because it's so much easier now that everything is in one place, and you aren't getting dirt all over the kitchen counter each time you re-pot something.
A few more details:
The only piece of wood I had to buy is the 2x2 piece of redwood behind the top shelf, all the rest is reclaimed wood... leftovers from projects, bits and pieces salvaged from the old outhouse that used to be on our land, and even some wood side panels from a old stake side work truck.
Except for the new piece of redwood, it's all oak and pine.
It's 36" tall, counter top height to be easy to work at.
I started by building two rectangles from 2x4's (one is the frame of the shelf, the other holds the bins for potting soil) then added legs to hold them the height I wanted them. I left the back legs longer, sticking up behind the top, to hold the small top shelf.
The top... the hinged lids... of the potting bench are still unfinished, they may end up wrapped with galvanized sheet metal or tin, or maybe just painted... I can't decide what to do with them.
I used plain plastic dish tubs under the lids to hold potting soil, etc.
The painted shelf slats are coated with a good exterior polyurethane, but the rest of the wood remains untreated.