Before I get into my pallet garden comparison… I want to share with you my sad sad story. A long long time ago I used to have a great vegetable garden. It wasn’t the biggest garden in the world but we squeezed a lot of vegetables in that garden. I had an abundance of tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers…if it was easy to grow, I grew it. My helpers helped harvest (even though they didn’t particularly like vegetables at the time). Life was good, the birdies were singing, the frogs were croaking…cue the happy music…
…and then catastrophe struck. The deer found my garden. They didn’t share, they didn’t even care if there was a vegetable or not, they just ate the entire plant. A tomato plant was merely an appetizer. It was not pretty.
Once deer find the garden, they come back year after year. My once abundant tomatoes were gone forever.
I did put up a wire fence with stakes but they just knocked it over. To make matters worse, the groundhog found my garden as well as the bunnies, slugs and spotted cucumber beetles. The bunnies just went under the fence that the deer had knocked over and the groundhog…well he is way more agile than he looks.
I sent up a white flag, I surrendered, the garden was plowed under and grass now sits where my garden used to be.
So last year, my youngest son, Nathan, was reading on Reddit how great vertical pallet gardens are. The vegetable garden was gone before he was born, so he only has the stories that his parents tell…the sad sad stories. Despite the stories, he wanted to build a garden. It would be on the deck, away from all the critters and I would only have to sacrifice one pallet.
I had my doubts, but he was gung ho and willing to put in the work.
The picture above is what the vertical pallet garden looks like today, kind of sad. Sorry, I don’t have any pictures from the newly planted garden last year, it was actually kind of nice, but it was before my blog days.
Chives, some kind of flower and thyme survived the winter, but not much else.
I think Nathan built the pallet great. He applied the backer, covered it with plastic, added compost and potting soil and filled it with herbs.
Now here is my problem with vertical pallet gardens…they are kind of hard to water. Any rains just get the top of the garden moist. Any forceful hose watering will have the soil leaking out. And, if the plants do well, there is no place for the roots to go, so all the plants ended up kind of small. And because the roots are elevated out of the ground, they have to be pretty darn hardy to last the cold winter we had last year.
If you have had luck with a vertical pallet garden I would love to hear from you. Maybe it’s just us. I did actually see a pallet garden, filled with Flowers, by Roeshel over at DIY Showoff, and it was beautiful. Check it out here. Frankly, I’m a little jealous. She did use a lot of Miracle Gro fertilizer and her patience and hard work shows.
Still not sure a vertical pallet is the way to go for vegetables.
So this year, it’s the end of June, schools out, and Nathan once again wants to try his hand at fresh vegetables. He is sure there must be a way to outsmart our neighborhood critters. I’m not so sure, I’ve been doing battle with a squirrel in my birdfeeder for years and right now the squirrel is winning about 20 to nothing (but that’s another story)
I do have the perfect spot to put a garden…right where a compost pile sits. The only problem is he’ll have to move the compost pile. The good part about putting it where the compost pile is that it’s great soil under there.
So here is Nathan and his dad moving the compost pile.
A bush was also in the way, so that ended up being dug out. You can see my signpost made out of pallet wood in the foreground.
Ready to put the pallets up. Easiest construction ever, the pallets don’t even have to be dismantled to start. The new pallet garden is 3 pallets long by 2 pallets wide.
The pallets are attached to each other with 3 inch decking screws. A couple in the top and a couple in the bottom.
Nine pallets up, a fresh layer of peat moss and the garden is ready for a door. What I like about his design is that if I need a larger garden, I just need to unscrew a couple of screws, take off the front couple of pieces and easily add another pallet to both sides.
A smaller pallet for the left side of the door was created using 2 side rails of old pallets with pallet wood screwed on to match the pallet on the opposite side of the opening.
The door was found at a salvage yard just like you see it above. I believe it was leftovers from somebody’s fencing but it fit perfectly in the opening.
Top of the door was rounded off with a jigsaw. Two rusty T hinges were found in my box of junk and attached to the door.
Nathan created the latch on his own when he couldn’t find one in my stash. The boards are just screwed on, but the one on the gate is loose enough to be able to be flipped up.
Netting was stapled around the interior of the garden to hopefully keep the bunnies out.
Nathan was not happy upon returning from vacation and finding many of the leaves on his beans eaten by slugs. The pan in the picture above is beer to try and trap the slimy pests. Ended up using slug pellets when the beer dried up. We’ve been slug free for about 3 weeks now.
We’ve had a lot of rain this summer which is great for a garden but left it rather muddy. These broken slate tiles were picked up in the woods where someone had dumped them. They make a great walking path.
Would not suggest planting a garden in the heat of July, the tomatoes on the left above are still trying to get over the shock of being transplanted.
Beans were planted at the end of June and are looking pretty good. Snow pea seeds went in today since they are a cool weather crop.
I’ll have to let you know how this pallet garden does. I would find it a success if I get one fresh tomato from the vine. I absolutely love a fresh tomato sandwich!
We were extremely late in planting the garden this year so if you have any easy cool weather crops you think we should try I would love to hear from you.
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