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May 7, 2023 | TAGS: #garden

This year, I decided to build some raised garden beds. I had a large number of pallets. These were originally collected with a plan of building a fence. That would have taken over 300 pallets. Once we got to around 100 pallets, we ditched the fence plans, but still had the pallets. So garden beds. Because we had so many, I went a bit overboard - 5 pallets per bed. These need to be built not just on site, but exactly where you want them. The end result will be super sturdy, and super heavy. The first one we put together just to figure out what we wanted to do, then we had to disassemble it to move it.

Here’s the steps I took to make mine. Be sure to only use heat treated or kiln dried wood. Up until 2010, many pallets were treated with a chemical called Methyl Bromide and marked with “MB”. Do not use these, the chemicals will leach into your soil and food. Be sure to research your pallets.

The first step was to rip two pallets in “half”. It’s not a 50/50 split, but more like 55/45. One side includes the base and the middle section, while the other is what’s leftover. I tried this with a sawzaw, a skill saw, and a chainsaw. The chain saw and sawzaw were comparable in speed, but the sawzaw was better equipped for the job and easier to handle.

I then took a third pallet, flipped it upside down, and laid it across the two legs. This creates a sort of basket to eventually hold the dirt. These pallets have a middle section on the bottom I removed. Then we just need a pallet vertical on each end. The scrap pieces from making the legs were re-used to hold the pallets together.

The basic structure only gives you about 5.5 inches to put dirt in. Using the leftover pieces from the legs, I can stack these on top and get 11 inches of height. Unfortunately, as soon as this was put together, the junior building inspector came by and issued me a fine, as I did not have a permit.

Despite the fine, we decided to carry on. I needed to get a landscaping fabric to line the base to prevent direct wet dirt on wood contact. I also decided that for this first year, I would try using the fabric as a wrap. I used a heavy duty fabric by Vigoro. The manufacturer says it is UV resistant and won’t dry rot in the sun. We shall see how it holds up. For all 4 garden beds, I ended up needing 110 ft, which meant I ended up buying a 100ft role, and then another 50ft roll a few weeks later. I could probably have gone with less overlap and kept it under 100ft. But I guess it’s good to have some spare. I went through several methods, but by the 3rd and 4th bed, I worked out the most efficient is to start with lining the bed, then up and over the ends. Wrap the outside last. I did two independently the first time, which meant I had to keep the beds spaced apart. Once done wrapping, I struggled to move the second bed half a foot into place. For the last two, I wrapped them both at the same time.

Once wrapped, a building inspector came by and seemed pleased with our progress. No more fines!

This completes the basic garden bed, but I plan to plant climbing plants (tomatoes, cucumbers, string beens…). For that, I need a trellis for them to climb. I ended up making this out of pressure treated 2x4s. The length of the bed is 4 feet. I could have taken some slats off of another pallet, but those cracked easily and.. I had a lot of leftover 2x4s from a previous project. For each garden bed, I use 3 4ft lengths, or 1.5 2x4s. Two uprights and one cross member. The one across the top is only for stability. The uprights get screwed into the center of each vertical pallet, and the cross beam goes across the top. Then I used some welded wire fence and horseshoe nails to make the trellis. I’ve also seen this done with knotted rope.

I left about a 8-10" gap above the dirt, and then 40" of fence wire to make the trellis. We bent the cut wire ends up to reduce any skin snags. Most climbing plants are good for aobut the first foot before they need to grab ahold of something. If we need to provide support below the fence, we can attach ropes or sticks.

The only thing missing now is plants.