While I love food, there are lot of food-related things I’ve never done. I’ve never grown my own food, I’ve never tried a crazy diet, I’ve never hosted a super fancy dinner party… the list goes on. Because of this, I decided I would start a new series on my blog that pushes me to try new things… and then write about them. I feel like we also see these blog posts about “oh try this its so easy!” but its written by someone who has done it a million times and knows exactly what they’re talking about. I thought it would be interesting to hear from someone who is actually trying something for the first time and doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
The past few weeks I have been in my Public Health rotation and have been working with a community health education center. At my rotation I’ve worked a lot with the garden expert, trying to set up edible gardens in schools, and working on the garden here at the center as well. This has really inspired me to try to grow some of my own food! One of the things we did a lot of research on was vertical gardening, which is a pretty, and space-saving way to grow fruits and veggies. I will admit that we did make a pallet garden with a volunteer group, but I did it with help from a lot of other people. Also we kind of failed. Today I’m going to attempt to make one all by myself (well.. my boyfriend is also joining in, but mostly by myself).
What You Need:
Staple gun with staples
Some sort of plywood or board (we used wooden lattice)
Soil (we used about 2.5 50qt bags of Daddy Pete’s Potting Mix)
Plants (we used about 18-20 plants including butter lettuce, romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, and cabbage)
- Start out by sanding your pallet so there aren’t any blemishes that might give you splinters while you’re planting.
- Flip your pallet over and cut enough landscape fabric to cover the back, sides, and bottom of the pallet. Using your staple gun, secure the fabric tightly to the pallet. Staple it everywhere that the fabric hits the wood.Now this is where we failed when I tired this at my rotation. I don’t know if we didn’t put enough staples or what, but when we turned it vertically a ton of soil fell out because the fabric was sagging in the back. To fix this problem when we made our pallet garden at home, we secured a piece of wooden lattice to the back. This ensured that the fabric didn’t sag, but the lattice makes it so that the fabric is still breathable and can drain well.
- Once everything is secured to the back of your pallet, flip in back over. Pour soil over the pallet and move it into the openings and compress the soil as much as you can into the pallet.
- Once the pallet is full of soil, add your plants. You can add them to all of the rows except the very top row. We’ll reserve the top row for tall plants since it will be on top when we turn the pallet vertically. Once all of your plants are added, add any remaining soil that is necessary to make sure the pallet is packed full. You want to make sure the soil is compressed and the pallet is actually full so that nothing shifts or falls out when you turn it vertically.
- Next, water all of your plants and let the pallet sit on the ground horizontally for about a week or so. This will allow the plants to start growing and the roots to really incorporate into the soil.
- Once you turn it vertically, you can plant your top row with any tall plants (we used strawberries).
We actually just turned our pallet vertical yesterday and so far its going great! Sam and I have both made two salads out of the lettuce so far too! I didn’t even realize how much everything had grown but look at the picture above and then the one below! I’m so proud of our little lettuce.
I also tried planting some beets and carrots from seeds into a few cinder blocks that are lining the bottom of our fence. So far they are sprouting and looking great… here’s hoping the dogs don’t eat them or pee on them.
I’ll keep you updated on how the gardening is going, but so far I’m loving growing my own food! What else do you think I should try?