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How to make a wooden plant bed for your balcony!

8 MAY 2010 UPDATE PICTURE

cukeboxcupamant1 229x300 How to: Make a wooden raised planter for your balcony (any size)

Box with soil

21 APRIL 2010 ORIGINAL POST

PHbuildbed11 How to: Make a wooden raised planter for your balcony (any size)Building raised garden beds on your balcony is not a very difficult task, not that I am sexist or anything but hey I am a girl and was not taught how to use tools. The point is that it is pretty easy to do, and if I can do it so can you.

cutieptcastnast3 229x300 How to: Make a wooden raised planter for your balcony (any size)

Raised Garden Bed for cukes and nasturtium

You only need the following to build them -

wood boards (new or used*)
hand saw
wood screws
screw driver
tape measure
drill (optional but makes life just a little easier)
bar of soap (wet)

if you want to go vertical with them you will also need -

more screws
chicken wire fencing
wire cutters
thinner wood pieces
jute string
staple gun and staples

*A note about using used wood – there are 2 things to consider when using ”used” wood. The first is that the life of your plant bed will be a bit shorter which generally should not be a problem and in fact recycling is great for the earth and for economic reasons.  However, some woods may be impregnated with toxins.  Generally known to be chemically treated are wood pallets – if you use them grow flowers, not edibles and at least line them with another material.

You will also need the following to fill them up -

liner – coir, fabric landscape liner or degradable plastic
stones or gravel
compost (optional)
seeds

This planter was built for a vertical application to grow 2 vining plants – cucumbers and nasturtium.  It is quite a lengthy planter yet narrow. The climbing vines will produce food and provide much needed shade. The dimensions are -

(L) 300cm x (W) 30cm x (H) 20cm

It was probably the easiest of the few that were built this year since the boards that were purchased came in 300cm lengths.  Using 4 whole pieces each at 300cm x 10cm for the front (2) and back (2) and then chopping up another for the sides (4) 30cm x 10cm with a piece leftover to be used for other boxes.

By the way each 300cm x 10 cm board cost around 2 euros each.

The pieces were all screwed together and small scraps of wood left over from other projects were used for added support at the inside corners and midway through the box.

cutieptcastnast1 229x300 How to: Make a wooden raised planter for your balcony (any size)

Close-Up

This next view of the boxes was taken from behind a door so it is a little blurry but you can still see the posts and chicken wire fence.

cutieptcastnast2. 300x229 How to: Make a wooden raised planter for your balcony (any size)

Almost ready!

The nasturtium seeds have sprouted and are just waiting until the boxes are filled to be transplanted.  Until the seeds grow into full fledged plants, thanks to Andrew Schmidt here is a picture of what nasturtiums look like!

This picture was cropped for a closer view.

Nasturtiums - Andrew Schmidt

Nasturtiums are great in salads (you can eat both the leaves and flowers) and the flowers not only are beautiful, they have a peppery taste.  As for the cucumbers, they will be planted from seed but not until May since they are very sensitive to weather when young and they do not like to be transplanted.

Basically the procedure is as follows to make one box and then the other seperately -you can stack them when they are done -

  1. gather your materials
  2. cut wood pieces to size
  3. drill holes on the points that will be fastened together (2 at each board end where you will start the screws, 1 above the other)
  4. screw the boards together – use the soap at the tip of each screw, it makes the screws turn easier.  Another little tip is to not screw them all tight at once, get them all in 3/4 of the way and then go back and tighten them up. also if the weather is tricky or you have just run out of strength and you are having a hard time to finish screwing the pieces together – have a coffee or tea and take a little break and try again later – you will be honestly amazed how much easier it is then.
  5. after you have completed each box, stack one atop the other
  6. using scrap wood or other wood of the same height of the box, in this case 20cm, fasten these with screws at the interior corners and midway if the box is long.

Voila! you are ready to either build a vertical extension or skip this step and get those boxes filled.

For vertical part -

  1. cut the thinner wood pieces to the desired height and place on the ground
  2. cut chicken wire fencing (it comes in rolls) to the desired height in this case around 210cm – the width of the wire that was used in this project was around 100cm
  3. staple very well the wire to the boards – lots of staples please you do not want this stuff flying off your balcony
  4. screw the board/wire panels to the back or interior of the box – it is a lot easier if you have another person helping you with this part.
  5. add extra security if facing the railing by tying them with jute string to the rails here and there

You are almost finished - next

  1. line
  2. fill with stones or a little gravel or sand (make sure you lined it well if you are using sand or gravel) my preference is stones since they are too big to filter through my lining and drainage is important
  3. add compost (I use saved kitchen waste and as it is decomposing can be a little smelly but once covered with dirt it does not smell at all)
  4. add soil
  5. plant seeds with tender hands and a warm heart
  6. water and cover the seeds with the earth
  7. grow your plants!

If you have any questions or if you would like to share any of your experiences, please leave a comment.

Happy Balcony Gardening!

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10 comments to How to: Make a wooden raised planter for your balcony (any size)

  • Stephanie ]

    Hi, I was wondering about the drainage on a balcony. Does the water actually leak out of the box onto the balcony? If so, is there a way you direct it over the edge? I live in an apartment and have a shared balcony…I don’t think my neighbors would appreciate it much if I leaked all over the balcony!

    • yoyogrow

      I actually happen to have a gutter off of my balcony – HOWEVER – water the fills the plant boxes really does get absorbed and used by the plants. Vegetables especially need lots and lots of water. Right now when it rains your neighbor below you would probably get more run off from your balcony. But there are things you can do to be sure that when you water it isnt getting wasted and running off – this year, I have added a few cut bottle tops and a few milk cartons with holes in the dirt and water directly in them so that the roots get direct access and i dont have to use as much water. Also and especially if your balcony faces south you can line it with one big piece of plastic without any drain holes or minimal holes since the intense heat will evaporate a lot of the moisture. If you are in a very wet climate it could mean root rot for some things. You can also use drought tolerant plants to keep things to a minimum. I would love to know more specifics about your balcony – is there an overhang? how big? etc. and maybe you can send me a picture to my email amyinro at gmail.com. I will be posting some pics soon of some of the changes that I have made on my balcony this year.

  • Anonymous

    … [Trackback]…

    [...] Read More here: yourbalconygarden.yoyoro.net/blog/2010/04/21/how-to-make-a-wooden-plant-bed-for-your-balcony/ [...]…

  • Nancy

    Thanks for sharing. I want to grow veggies on my balcony ^_^

    • yoyogrow

      Hi Nancy wishing you success with your veggies growing on the balcony. I havent posted any pics in a very long time but can tell you that the reward is so great. This year tomitillos, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers were my primary veggies. Don’t get discouraged …for instance this year my tomitillos weren’t filling out their paperlike shells that appear first and then suddenly it seemed I had a massive amount of tomitillos ready to harvest.

      One other difficulty is learning the ‘climate’ on your balcony. My balcony faces south and there were a few days where I had to protect some of my plants from the sun. Please share some photos. Thanks for the comment.

  • Stephen

    Do you use anything for an inner lining or do you plant directly into your boxes?
    Thanks !

    • yoyogrow

      so sorry for the long time in replying – yes i do line the boxes and somewhat loosely since i dont want it to be air tight so it can drain a bit. i mostly have used the plastic bags that the soil came in as the lining and heavy duty garbage bags sliced so they are only 1 layer. Hope that helps and would love to see pics of your project – thanks for the comment.

  • Nice Wooden plant bed for balconies…..

    Thanks for Sharing !!

  • Anonymous

    … [Trackback]…

    [...] Read More Infos here: yourbalconygarden.yoyoro.net/blog/2010/04/21/how-to-make-a-wooden-plant-bed-for-your-balcony [...]…

  • Great article post.Really thank you! Want more.

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