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Maison Grenouille et Chez Crapaud - vegetable planter built from reclaimed pallets

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Picture of Maison Grenouille et Chez Crapaud - vegetable planter built from reclaimed pallets
2008 is the year of the frog. At present 50% of 6000 described amphibian species are threatened with extinction.

Amphibians play a vital role in the ecosystem and because of their sensitivity to pollutants and environmental change they can be considered primary environmental indicators - a bit like the canaries employed in coal mines as advance indication of gases toxic to miners. The effects that environmental conditions are having on amphibian populations around the world can be extrapolated to the effects these worsening conditions will have on our own health and wellbeing. You can find out more about the Amphibian Ark Global Campaign and their efforts to redress the amphibian extinction crisis at http://www.amphibianark.org/

This is a project that will not only prevent viable timber going to landfill, but will create two frog or toad shelters and a sizeable trough in which to establish a veritable mini potager (and not a English oak turned wooden string holder, or vintage terracotta pot in sight! luvly jubbly. )

PLEASE NOTE (before comencing): FOR BOTH THE WELL BEING OF THE FROGS AND YOURSELF YOU ARE COMMITED TO USING ORGANIC METHODS OF GARDENING. THAT MEANS FOR INSTANCE USING ORGANIC COMPOST, NOT USING TOXIC SLUG PELLETS (usually Metaldehyde or methiocarb) OR CHEMICAL PLANT FOOD OR WEED KILLERS. YOU CAN FOR INSTANCE USE A LIQUID SEAWEED PLANT FOOD SO LONG AS YOU DILUTE IT CORRECTLY.
 
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Gareth01231 year ago
A proper Pallet Dismantling Bar would not only be safer, but would also be quicker and much more efficient to use when stripping the pallets to reclaim the timbers for future use.
CementTruck5 years ago
Great idea. Please be aware that some pallets are treated with toxic chemicals to keep them from rotting in the elements. If you see a "P" branded (burned) into the bottom of a skid or pallet, do not use it for this project, or any project where it can come into contact with bare skin. Pallets from supermarkets, or food distributors will probably be your best bet.
fake_faux (author)  CementTruck5 years ago
Oh good point! My supply of pallets come from a local fruit and veg street market - you have to get there about 6am to pick them up before the rubbish trucks take them away. Here in my neighbourhood in London there seems to be more robust pallets in use but they are sprayed blue and indeed belong to a company that hire them out to distributors of palletised goods. The pallets therefore remain the property of the company for rehire & I guess the blue paint is some kind of chemical preservative.
They are. They belong to a co-operative called "CHEP" and they are the best maintained pallets out there. But the blue paint IS kinda iffy.
whitedem0n5 years ago
where can i find a pallet at? whene ever i go looking for some it feels like i would be stealing it.
CraigsList
soundmotor5 years ago
I love this instructable but I don't think I would use pallets in anyway towards food production. If you look up "ISPM 15" it details the regs for pallets used for international shipping and the techniques used to kill hitchiking pests.

http://www.thegreenpallet.com/environmental-pallet/
if you were that worried you could allways line the boxes with some plastic, like from a grow bag so as not so waste packaging. i know, i know, its not as eco-awesome if u use plastic but u get to eat the foods without worrying!
rjcortez Chard3 years ago
I line mine with 6 mill black plastic. Various Garden Boxes From Recycled Wood Materials
I hear that. The instructable is very cool and makes sense when you see the number of pallets out there free for the taking. The nice thing about building a raised bed (or raised bed + amphibian palace) is that is all you need to start growing. You don't need to line it with anything which makes it simple.
fake_faux (author)  soundmotor5 years ago
Thank you for posting the link, the page is most informative and I absolutely agree and reiterate your concerns about not using chemical impregnated wooden pallets as containers for growing vegetables for consumption.

However the article makes it pretty clear that each individual board of a treated pallet should be marked. Therefore it should be fairly easy to trace the origin of manufacture of the pallet and avoid those that have been treated by chemical pressure impregnation or fumigation with methyl bromide. I should imagine that those that have been heat treated (put through a kiln to prevent the import of wood borne pests) shouldn’t pose any threat.

This project is more about the concepts of using reclaimed timber, incorporating wild life friendly corners into the domestic environment and growing your own fresh produce. Any reclaimed timber can be used, you'd be amazed the off cuts that builders throw into skips or the number of unvarnished cheap futon bed frames and the like that are put out for refuse collection (have these people not heard of Salvation Army furniture shops or Freecycle { http://uk.freecycle.org/ } ?). Anyhow, maybe it's just the neighbourhood I happen to live in?
niquattx5 years ago
PLEASE CHANGE THIS STEP!!! USE A HACKSAW TO SAW THROUGH THE NAILS!!! BREAKING THE NAILS WITH A CHISEL IS DANGEROUS AND WORK INTENSIVE!!
fake_faux (author)  niquattx5 years ago
No need to shout niquattx, I am listening. I think it's a matter of horses for courses really, whatever workssafely and efficiently for you by all means. You'll notice that I have listed both eye protectors and gloves in my tool list. I have used a chold chisel (this tool is not hardened and tempered so won't shatter) to snap nails quickly and easily while building a number of pellet projects and have found that one or two sharp, controlled blows on the same spot snaps the nails exactly where I want them - I suppose it is a technique. The problem with a hacksaw is that the frame tensioning the blade is not very deep so limits the access and angle you have to getting at the nails. I find the hack saw blade attached to a pistol grip handle is just a bit too flexible to put any "elbow" into sawing. All the best with your project.
Deadpunk5 years ago
This is the the rasied vegetable bed I made from a pallet I salvaged from the cronstruction of the new McDonalds next door it was actualy already in the shape of a box I just had to add the midle slats on the sides and some extra slats in the bottum for support my neighbor dose alot of gardening and has extra cloth you put on the bottum of flower/vegetable bed's and as soon as Iget some from her I'll put up pictures of that in the bed and pictures of when i fill it with fresh compost.
100_1760.jpg100_1761.jpg
fake_faux (author)  Deadpunk5 years ago
Wow, neat! Your raised vegetable bed looks large enough for you to section it into quarters and do crop rotation: peas,beans > onions > carrots , tomatoes > cabbages, kale, broccoli. Each year you move the planting one section on so that you don't have the same plants in the same spot year after year. That way you can control the nutrition in the growing medium and minimise crop diseases.
That's a realy great idea! And I have enough extra building materials that I can do it fairly easily.
Chard5 years ago
This instructible is lacking one thing and one thing only. a nice pic of a frog or toad :D other than that ... great instructible. where do you find unwanted pallettes?
fake_faux (author)  Chard5 years ago
Heya Chard, Since you mentioned it, here is a picture of our resident toads that I took on March the 15th of this year. I accidentally disturbed them whilst trying to excavate the entire root ball of a 2m wide bush that I eventually transplanted to a neighbour's garden as I was making room to build a pond. The picture was a bit rushed as I had to trapse mud through the house to go get my camera & return just in time to catch them before they went under cover of one of the many piled brick hideyholes I have stationed around the garden. I got the pallets from our local street market off one of the fruit and veg stallholders.
fake_faux (author)  fake_faux5 years ago
Hmmm it didn't seem to immediately upload and attach the image to my reply (??!!) so, here goes again now that I have uploaded the image to my library...
our_friendly_toads.jpg
Chard fake_faux5 years ago
wow you have out done yourself. there was me hoping for a pic of a frog and u managed to get 2 mid love session!!! cheers for the info i might check out the local market next week!
fake_faux (author)  Chard5 years ago
Hey Chard, Yes, yes... actually this reminds me of a Gary Larson cartoon I saw some years back which went something like this: hubby vole comfortably ensconced in armchair in front of the telly (to wife): "Hey Marge, come here quickly, the Hendersons are on telly" Title screen on telly in the background "Nature Documentary, The Sex Life Of The Common Vole" splashed across a background picture of a little vole couple - or something to that effect. No disrespect intended to the resident toads, I grew up in the countryside and so don't bat an eyelid at Nature doing its thing. This is in fact the only pic I have of them in daylight & together as I usually bump into either one at them after nightfall as they are nocturnal.
stncilr5 years ago
be careful when using pallets, some are treated with harmful chemicals so they don't rot easily and stuff, and those chemicals can contaminate the plants you grow in the planter.
fake_faux (author)  stncilr5 years ago
Do You have any specifics about the treated pallets to avoid where you are? I also refer you to CementTruck's earlier comment below : "If you see a "P" branded (burned) into the bottom of a skid or pallet, do not use it for this project, or any project where it can come into contact with bare skin. Pallets from supermarkets, or food distributors will probably be your best bet."
I have no clue, i just know that most palettes are treated.
FireBAT5 years ago
Very nice work! Our garden has 5'x5' raised beds made out of old shipping crates, from the big ceramic electrical insulators used in high-voltage transmission. These are much prettier! We only fertilise organically, using a mix of rabbit, chicken, guinea pig, and bat droppings. I've noticed that of the few frogs I've seen in the past 4 years, many seem to have some sort of hip disorder- their pelvis sticks up at a strange angle. Chemical pollution causing birth defects? I'll keep an eye on the tadpoles developing in our pond, and build them some houses.
fake_faux (author)  FireBAT5 years ago
I saw this short article and think it might explain your frogs' hip disorders. http://www.windstar.org/eMagazines/eMagazine92/emagazine.cfm

It seems that the deformities might be caused by a parasite that is harboured by water snails. Pond water with elevated phosphorous & nitrogen levels promotes aquatic plant growth, which in turn provides an environment for an increase in the population of water snails. This appears to be remedied by introducing crayfish which predate snails.

However I'd do a bit of research before introducing anything new to a pond. The Signal Crayfish was introduced to the UK in the 1970's to be farmed, it escaped and is now creating havoc amongst native crayfish populations.
I netted some of the tadpoles and put them in a clear jug, so I could see them. In the 5 net scoops, there were at least 6-8 snails, too. The tadpoles seem healthy and vigorous, even though the water is "tea-coloured" from dead leaves. Thanks for the info on the snails- I'll see what I can do to remove them. At least the pond is only 6 feet across. It used to be a water feature, until the pump broke, and I was going to empty it when I noticed all the tadpoles.
fake_faux (author)  FireBAT5 years ago
I guess you could naturalise your water feature and convert it into a wildlife pond and bog garden. I'm in the process of planning a pond - I have to build a retaining wall as the garden slopes before I can even begin digging the pond. We hope that eventually newts will migrate to our garden from a local pond. We have a resident toad that probably took up home in our grey water drain long before we moved in four years ago.
I emptied the nasty brown water out of the pond and got the 100+ pounds of dead leaves out of it. I found 12 snails, which were not invited to return to the pond. I also found 8 Dragonfly larvae, and estimated the taddie population at around 300. I slowly refilled the pond with spring water, so it wouldn't temperature shock the critters. Yesterday morning they were doing great, with no casualties. I have friends that have a 2/3 acre pond, so maybe some of our 'poles will be happy out there. Their pond doesn't get Ag runoff, either. My parents live in the center of town, far away from any other water, but Fred Frog moved into their pond 3 years ago. No idea where he came from.
fake_faux (author)  FireBAT5 years ago
Your efforts are inspirational, I'll have to get on with laying the retaining wall so that I can dig that pond. 300 taddies!! You've got your work cut out giving them all names. All the best with your brood (er...colony).
Yep - red signal crayfish, here in the Cotswolds where we used to have the native white clawed. I found this guy in the drainage pipes under our lawn, which go into a small stream at the bottom of the garden.
ReggieCrayfish.jpg
fake_faux (author)  AndyGadget5 years ago
Yes that's the beastie!
ysabet5 years ago
Great piece of work! Very nice details, and I love the addition of the havens. I live in the desert (Arizona, USA) and have a decent raised-bed garden in my backyard; it's about the only way to retain moisture out here, what with the 100-degree-F-plus temps and so forth. I used discarded lumber for mine, but I think I'll try for pallet-wood for the next log. Thanks!
cheezstake5 years ago
Excellent instructable. I have wanted to do this for some time. I always see pallets laying around not being reused. Hopefully when I move to somewhere where I can do this, I will try out your 'able. thanks.
AndyGadget5 years ago
I like this, and would second your point about not using slug pellets. If you want to kill off half the wildlife in your garden (not just the slugs), slug pellets are a good way to do it. They wreak havoc with the food chain. Encourage frogs, toads and hedgehogs and you have animated, self propelled slug destroyers working for you.
Mr. Rig It5 years ago
Very well done. Great use of pallets/matrials. Well written,nice schematics, and photos.

Good Job!

If you like you are welcome to add this project to my group Home Repair, Refurbishment, and Projects It would be a great addition, and again good job.
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