making a raised bed from pallets
Old tatty pallets that we used to disregard and not even notice have become quite trendy of late. They are given new leases of life, and repurposed as new every day items such as tables or beds...
I was shown how to turn old pallets that were used at work, into raised beds; not quite as exciting as homeware, but very important in the world of herbal gardening.
Many herbs are considered weeds because of how they look (though I still think they look beautiful!), and how they can spread and take over an area. A raised bed contains such spreaders, and I like to think elevates such beautiful herbs even more.
I am completely useless at DIY - I've never really used tools before; but I hoped that determination, and my general heavy handedness, were two skills that would be of some use here.
Making these raised beds was not an easy process - we first had to find 'Euro pallets' amongst the piles that are stored round the back of the factory - according to Fraser, these are the best. This was no easy feat when such a pallet is wedged under a mountain of others that weren't up to standard; pallets are not light!
Once we had hauled one down, it was hefted onto a wheelbarrow to be taken down to the other end of the garden; and so we went to-ing and fro-ing until we had the 32 (!) needed to make 8 raised beds.
It is worth mentioning that not all pallets are safe to use - the bright colourful ones that I wanted to use are in fact used to transport toxic materials, the paint itself is also not great and should not be used indoors, or to grow things in.
You also should look out for an 'IPPC' stamp (International Plant Protection Convention) which means it passes international shipping regulations that helps to prevent a cross contamination of pests across country borders. Pallets are treated either with heat or chemicals, look for 'HT' meaning heat treated on the same stamp. If 'HT is not labelled, you can assume it may have been chemically treated, usually fumigated with methyl bromide which is a nasty pesticide - again, not good if you want to re-use indoors or for growing things. If there is no 'IPPC/HT' stamp there, don't use it.
fraser's raised bed design...
Step one - stand pallet vertically and saw down edge of second plank in from right, through the top and middle segments.
Step two - Flip pallet over to do last segment, it's too hard to saw that far down!
* Admittedly I did at first find hand sawing tiring, Frazer would saw down all three segments in the time it took me to do one. I did improve, and could almost keep up by the end, though I now have Popeye arms! *
Step three - Do the same now it has been flipped on the other side, cutting down the edge of the second plant in, and flipping again to do the lower segment.
Step four - Discard the middle part, it should look like this. Try not to cut down the wrong edge as I had done a few times. It just means more sawing, which if done by hand makes it extra niggly.
We have made good progress so far, and I like to think that despite my lack of DIY experience, I am now a raised bed making pro! Thanks to Fraser I can now wield saws and hammers competently for any given task.
The next stage is to fill these with soil, and then fill in the pathways with shingle to continue on from what you can see to the left. To fill them we have a mix of our own compost, organic eco soil which is bought in from the local council, and sand. We thoroughly mix these in the wheelbarrow - Equal parts of composts, and a shovels worth of sand, trudge said wheelbarrow through the mud (unfortunately, the garden site is clay, not the best with all the rain this winter, which makes for very wet ground!), tip, and rake.
Again there is and will be a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with our trusty wheelbarrows, these raised beds take many trips to fill. But it will be worth it when we plant them up, not only with herbs, but also some delicious organic veggies too that will be used for the on-site staff canteen here - yum!
So I have yet more to learn, and spring to now look forward to to get eveything going; then, all the hard work will have paid off.
23/2/2016 12:18:09 am
Emma this is a great article and so useful for those of us wanting to improve our growing environment sustaibably, but with little time or knowledge about where to start. The info on the type of pallets to use is most helpful. Thanks!
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Emma is passionate about promoting good health, and likes to keep things simple. She enjoys yoga, meditation & being outdoors, yet likes to indulge in coffee, wine & cake - Everything in moderation!