Well, it’s happened so I guess I’d better cop to it. Hello, my name is Sheri and I am addicted to vegetable gardening. Phew, I feel better! I know I wrote a previous post about all the happy side effects of gardening addiction, like spending lots of time outside, getting more exercise and of course all the delicious organic food. What I didn’t mention was the darker side… like, literally, my yard is too dark! Jon and I love trees so much that we have planted California peppers, ficus, a flowering plum and more. This has left most of my gardening space in the shade and it gets worse every year.
In looking for creative alternatives to chopping down my beautiful trees I learned a lot about container gardening, so when my contractor friend offered me a pallet box I was ecstatic. It’s practically an instant raised bed! I did have to make the hard decision to chop two birds of paradise down to the ground but I think the remaining eight will keep the hummingbirds happy… until I need more space, that is.
As you can see above I lined the pallet with what I had on hand: screen from an old door and a strip of weed-barrier fabric. I then proceeded to fill the box, a surprisingly daunting task – that mother is bigger than it looks! First I laid down about 6″ of clean cardboard which should help keep the birds of paradise from growing back up through the bottom, prevent the soil from draining through, and will also break down into compost eventually. I covered that with leaves and grasses from the yard and even snuck in a bunch of BOP roots that will break down and nourish the soil.
Once I had a good thick layer of leaves I filled another 12″ with sandy fill dirt we dug up recently to build our new welding shop. I then collected as much fresh compost as I could get from our passive compost bin and added a bag of really good potting soil/compost mix.
Finally it was full enough to plant, or so I thought. I realized too late that I should have filled it higher to account for the sun being so low in the winter. Unfortunately, the side of the box and the remaining birds are shading it most of the day. I somehow missed that fact before putting the seeds in. Oh well.
I crammed this sucker full of yummy fall vegetable seeds: carrots, giant mustard, dwarf siberian kale, Detroit dark red beets, chioggia beets and shallots. Speaking of seeds, I recently joined a really awesome group on facebook called The Great American Seed Swap. Before joining I had no idea that people all over the country were swapping heirloom and non-GMO seeds! So now I’ve added another addiction to my list and made a bunch of new garden-crazy friends. I only mention it here because nearly all the seeds I planted in the pallet box were collected from swapping with the great folks over at GASSP. Thanks guys!
So I watered and waited and before too long my seeds started sprouting.
Now, just a couple months later we are harvesting gorgeous greens nearly every day!
I’m trying to get better at companion planting so I let some nasturtium grow along the back to attract the cabbage white butterflies away from my edibles. It seems to be working so far as they’re getting nibbled but my greens are not. I also put one of my new Happy Heart garden stakes for a little burst of color.
So despite wishing I’d done a couple of things differently I’m considering the pallet box garden a success! I still need more garden beds so I’d love to hear about other creative solutions for making more space in the garden. Please comment below and share your ideas!