8 MAY 2010 UPDATE PICTURE
21 APRIL 2010 ORIGINAL POST
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.
You only need the following to build them -
wood boards (new or used*)
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 -
chicken wire fencing
thinner wood pieces
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
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.
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.
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!
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 -
- gather your materials
- cut wood pieces to size
- 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)
- 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.
- after you have completed each box, stack one atop the other
- 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 -
- cut the thinner wood pieces to the desired height and place on the ground
- 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
- staple very well the wire to the boards – lots of staples please you do not want this stuff flying off your balcony
- 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.
- add extra security if facing the railing by tying them with jute string to the rails here and there
You are almost finished - next
- 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
- 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)
- add soil
- plant seeds with tender hands and a warm heart
- water and cover the seeds with the earth
- 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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