Sunny Life Sunday: Raised Garden Beds
Posted: Mar 28 2016
Here's the video that led to this post in case you missed it:
I have always planned to start a garden so much so I took a Botany class in undergrad. Biggest mistake ever it was so boring and difficult.
Fast forward almost 10 years later and I finally have a garden so much more exciting.
So how'd I do it? First I realized I have a huge backyard (for Florida any way) but that doesn't mean I should bite off more than I can chew. Therefore, I decided to research small space gardening until I got the hang of it. What I found was pallet gardening turns out to be the most organized and easy way to start.
However, don't run out and get pallets from where ever you can find them there's a very specific code and list of do's and don't for selecting your pallet see the image below. I only selected HT pallets because I am growing edibles.
Not sure where to get pallets? Start with craigslist there's always a stack in the free section and local big box stores tend to toss them here's a full list on other places to source free pallets: http://www.1001pallets.com/where-to-get-pallets/
Now you have your pallets you now have to decide your layout keeping in mind beauty and space in your backyard, balcony or rooftop. You will want enough space to cut or treat each side of the pallet so you need walking and knelling space.
You also want to make sure it's visibly appealing think Better Homes and Garden appealing not just functional. This is important because you want it to be a heaven not a task. It will consume a lot of your time so make sure it's a space you can enjoy. I included a small table in my space to have a cup of tea or to sit and work. In small space gardens you want to make sure you use every inch wisely. So also consider vertical gardens. You can see below I use the wood fence to grow things like flowers, herbs, lavender and even added a catnip bin for my 2 fur-babies to have access to.
Here's the garden supplies you need:
Organic Soil & Compost Mix
Buckets, Planters, Tin Cans, Glass Jars and any other recyclable creative pots you can find
Large popsicle craft sticks
Many people recommend stapling the landscaping paper to the bottom of the pallet and just placing it on the ground we wanted to avoid root crowding so we dug a 2' deep hole and placed the landscaping paper in it then the drain rock, then stapled it to the pallet. This way uses more soil but allows your space to be more varied for growing carrots or other rooted vegetables. However it does mean it's permanent so if you desire to move your pallet you may not want to do this.
Steps to actually start your pallet garden:
1. Design your layout
2. Collect Materials
3. Dismantle Pallets I used a hammer and got an amazing workout pulling the nails out however this guys has an easier way: I only needed to remove the bottom pieces my pallet were already box shaped instead of rows it depends on what you are growing.
4. Prep your area and soil for us we had to level the area, cut the grass on the lowest setting possible, rake up the left overs, cover it with landscaping paper
5. Dig the 2' for each box, drape with landscaping paper - leaving excess to staple later, put in drain rocks, drop in Organic soil and compost mix, staple landscaping paper to box
6. Cover entire area around boxes with mulch, top off boxes with extra organic soil and compost
7. Now your area is ready and you can plant seeds.
Moving on to vertical garden
1. Gather planters after layout is decided
2. Add holes to planters for drainage
3. For glass containers add rocks at the bottom
4. Stabilize planters to fence with screws or hooks
5. Add soil
Now you are ready to add seeds.
Here's Insight on steps to do a pallet garden vertically: http://lifeonthebalcony.com/how-to-turn-a-pallet-into-a-garden/
Compost? Do I really have to collect old food, stir it and risk rodents in my backyard to be an official organic gardener?
No. The thought of rodents handout in my yard because of organic composting did not sit well with me even with my two feline ninjas. So I decided to direct compost. This means I save all my banana peels, egg shells, leftover scraps from my juicer and I directly add them to the soil. How amazing is that? You aren't wasting anything or adding to landfills you can literally add all vegetation back to the soil for nutrients (no meat or human or animal feces I'd stick to vegetables and fruit). Additionally, cow manure and compost is readily available at every home improvement store that's what I started with in addition to adding my scraps.
How Much Can I Grow?
It depends on how many pallets you have? Here' s a good visual to guide you.
What Can I Grow?
It depends on the space you have and your Zone. I live in South Florida in Boca Raton and my zone is 10b.
Here's how to find out the zone you live in: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/
When you purchase seeds it will also reference these zones.
Truth Be Told:
Gardening is not for the faint of heart it's real work remember is a career for some. It's not all lemonade and fresh strawberries. I have only been at it for 1 week but I have spent months researching how to's. There's a lot of forecasting, drawing, organizing and researching involved. That's why I decided to start this segment to share my findings to help out the next urban gardener. I am sure it will be highly rewarding and bottom line it's a valuable life skill.
I will share my Pinterest Board later today on what inspired me and give you gals updates on the latest happenings with the garden often.
If you wish to receive my spreadsheets on number of seeds to sow per plant, days of maturity, information on the best companion plants, how to attract more pollinators, how to decide on a layout for yard shape, other ways to save when gardening please subscribe to my Sunny Life Sunday Newsletter and you'll get the goods!
Share your thoughts, questions and gardening tips below.