If you would like to garden, have limited space and resources, or perhaps you want to try out gardening without making a permanent commitment, the pallet garden may be right for you.
Unpainted, wood packing pallets can often be obtained for free outside most stores, but ask first before taking them. Choose a wood pallet that is dry and in good condition and upcycle it into a small garden area.
Since you will only have 4-6 inches of soil depth to work with, choose plants that will not grow tall and require heavy roots to support them such as lettuce varieties, Swiss chard, collards, spinach, radishes, herbs or flowers such as petunias or marigolds.
To prepare your pallet for gardening:
Choose a level, sunny spot in your yard. Turn your pallet upside down.
Lay landscape fabric over your pallet and cut the fabric 6 inches larger than the pallet on all sides.
Staple or tack landscape fabric to the bottom edges of your pallet, forming a 6 inch ‘pocket’. This will create a ‘fabric container’ to hold your soil in place and reduce weeding. Using landscape fabric will permit water to drain through and keep your plant’s roots healthy. Avoid using plastic as it will not drain water.
Turn the pallet over and mix good quality soil and compost together and pack loosely into the wood slats until the pocket is full. Let soil settle for a day and add more soil as needed to bring soil to the level of the wood slats. Avoid soil from near the house or garage which could have lead or other contaminants that have leached into the soil.
Plant your seeds or seedlings in the rows between the wooden slats. Water as needed.
If you lack access to landscape fabric, you can place heavy cardboard or layers of newspaper and build your soil square on top and then add the pallet.
With official permission, sunny, vacant, urban lots can make terrific, temporary community pallet gardens while the lot remains unsold. If the lot sells, the pallets are easily removed.
By upcycling wood pallets into gardens, you can reduce waste and create a place to experiment with growing fresh vegetables or flowers.
You can view more gardening tips by visiting the Cornell Cooperative Extension website at www.cceoneida.com or by calling our Horticulture Hotline at 315-736-3394, 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays and Fridays.