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 Growing plants is important.  It is healthy, greening, improves air quality and is all-round good for you.  But this can be tough if you live in a second floor apartment without a balcony.  This Instructable will show you how I grew carrots in a carport, radishes from rubbish, and spinach from wasted space.

 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
 I got the idea for my garden while I was walking around the industrial estate in which I work.  I saw a bunch of poly-boy cages waiting to be thrown out.  I borrowed a friends ute and grabbed a couple.  
A poly-boy is a 1m x 1m x 1m plastic cube with a reinforcing cages around it.  It is used in industry to hold and transport 1000L quantities of liquids.  I removed the plastic insert and just took the cages.
You also might need:
Scrap wood
Castors (if you want to move it)
Some outdoor fabric (I used outdoor umbrellas I found on the side of the road)
Dirt & plants

Step 2: Give it Some Wheels

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 I used some scrap wood to make corners for the cages.  I cut them on a 45 degree angle so they did not hobble me as I walked around my garden.  I screwed in 4 castors - two that swivel and two that do not (because they were cheaper).

The castors I used are a little small for the weight of the garden, I would recommend assuming the soil will weight the same as water (1 cubic centimeter of water = 1 mL = 1 gram).  

To get the weight, measure the volume (length x width x height) of the soil in cm and divide it by 1000 to get the weight in kilograms AND the volume in Litres.  Soil and compost are sold in litres so this is a handy number to have.  Don't forget to divide this weight by the number of wheels to get the weight on each wheel.

If you are in an Imperial country, measure the volume in inches (length x width x height) and multiply by 0.03606 to give you the weight in pounds (lb).  As to the volume - I'm sorry, I'm an engineer and even I find it confusing to use inches, pounds and gallons!

Step 3: Cut the Wood for the Base

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I got some old sleepers left over from a fence at my parent's place.
I used a circular saw to cut a series of lines at the same depth as close together as I could.  It was then easy to just knock out the slivers of wood with a hammer.

I did this to ensure the wood couldn't slide out - but in hindsight this is not strictly necessary.

Step 4: Chuck It All Together

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 Screw the castor planks to the bottom of the cages (do it better than I did though).
Place a couple of notched sleepers (or simply pieces of scrap wood) through the cage to support the soil.

Step 5: Line It!

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 I draped the discarded umbrella fabric over the wood and lined it with garbage bags to help prevent moisture loss.  This can be a real problem in raised garden beds, so skip this plastic lining at your peril!
I did not add any drainage holes - I assumed that there would be enough gaps between the plastic bags to allow excess water to drip through.

Step 6: A Load of B.S.

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 Well, a mix of manures, compost and mushroom compost.  I chose to buy my compost/manure mix, but it would be just as easy to take some unused dirt from a pool-dig or other earth-moving site provided you enrich it.  The dirt from deep underground is only useful as a medium to hold the manure, compost, water and fertilizers you add to it.

Step 7: The Fun Part

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Neaten the edges of the material - I used plastic ties, but this could be done with more finesse using twine or wire wrapped around the edges.
Plant your plants - Look up some of the great Square-Foot Gardening Instructables to get the most out of your plot.
Mulch - It's quite important for weed suppression, water retention and insulation for your plants.
And most importantly, enjoy it!

Extra Ideas to Try:I would like to cut holes in the side of the fabric and plant creeping & climbing plants which can climb around the outside without disturbing the top plants.
If you are in a cold climate, you could try enclosing this in the winter as a sessional green house.Have a look on Instructables, there are hundreds of space saving plant ideas.
Good luck and add any ideas you think might be interesting!

Step 8: Update!

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I pulled some of young carrots that needed to be thinned out of the top of the bed and planted them in the side of the garden.  

If this works, when the carrots are ready for harvest, I will replace them with something creeping like tomatoes and cucumbers as we come into spring!  

Stay tuned.
greybunny3 years ago
As it's going to be moved, make sure you do something to "hold" the fruit onto the side while it gets bigger. I saw an instructable that used mesh netting like the kind you buy onions in to tie onto a plant to hold it on. I hope that makes sense lol
Utahtabby4 years ago
I wonder if a Bagster (portable 'plastic fabric' Dumpster) would work, maybe get 2 or 3 pallets and attach those together with some scrap lumber and add casters, Then set a Bagster on top, Bagsters are like $30 bucks at Lowe's.
sprout=rn5 years ago
nice idea for the poly boy portable garden, but I must ask....why discard the container and have to find something else to line the frame with?? I thinking the poly containers need the frame to be useful, so why not cut off the top and use that instead of discarding?? Would have neater appearance and be water proof and the option of making self watering as in earth boxes..... As for the depth, that also would be adjustable with deeper cuts and lifting of base with support lumber. Also just a creative suggestion!!
If it was an "industrial" area, the containers might have contained chemicals that would be impossible to remove. You wouldn't want to use that with food crops.
Tumonbay5 years ago
With the addition of wire mesh, those cages would make great composters.
strata5 years ago
WRT the chicken cage idea, how about a nice compromise-- make the wood mounts for the casters such that the bottom of the cage is flush with ground level, and use it as a 'chicken tractor', where 2 or 3 hens are moved daily to a new patch of tasty lawn to scratch and forage! Look up chicken tractors, there are many designs but I think we just found a new design here. :-)
strata5 years ago
The IBC containers aren't always for hazmat. We have some at our community garden for collecting rainwater. We got them from a restaurant supply place; they'd been used for olive oil and balsamic vinegar in bulk, so a simple soap and water cleanout made them usable. Knowing what they had in them, for sure, is the key. This is really ingenious, congrats.
xcd5 years ago
this is cool idea!
Johenix5 years ago
1.) Soil is denser than water, about 3-4 Kg/L (3-4 lbs/Pint).
2.)If you knew what had been in the poly, you might want to save the poly and cut it into a shallow soil tray.
3.) The cage could make the frame for a two or three story poultry battery with the cut down poly as a litter pan under the battery cage. It could hold 8-12 hens or more quail.



yeh but battery farming is cruel
Battery farming can be humane if you don't pack the birds one per square foot. I figure about three square feet per bird.
I still wouldn't call that any quality of life. Don't get me wrong, I'm no vegan but I do endeavour to buy british (we have much better standards than some other european countries). Chickens like to flap and scratch and explore. Keeping them in a cage is harsh. If cows, sheep and pigs are allowed to wander fields finding good grazing then why should chickens be any different? You definitely get bigger tastier eggs from free range than you do from battery or barn chickens.
bpar10 (author)  Johenix5 years ago
 These are great ideas!  The neighbor's cat spends a lot of time in the cage - so it must be cosy.
msdrpepper5 years ago
Very cool idea. I've no clue where to obtain these sorts of cages. The closest I can think of for liquid transports are those heavy plastic "milk crates" (and the cheaper decorator knock-offs from places like Walmart or Target). I tried to do a google search and I guess I'm not as good at searching as I thought.

You mentioned the "plastic inserts" that came with the cages but you had removed - curious what those inserts looked like? why did you choose to remove them? was it like too thick to drill water holes in it, if you had wanted to use it to put the dirt in? or too flimsy? I'm just trying to get a better overall picture in my mind what you were dealing with and the choices you made, which I'm sure makes perfect sense. Was the liquids some sort of corrosive where you thought the soil would become contaminated?

OH and where did you find a large amount of "umbrella cloth"? Or did you just dismantle a busted umbrella and salvage the fabric??

Thanks!
bpar10 (author)  msdrpepper5 years ago
Thanks for the comments! I can help - I should have had more photos, but I will add them in the next 48 hours. I'm at work now (don’t tell my boss I’m on Instructables) so I will get photos of these “poly-buoys” – you may call them other things and know exactly where to get them.
Cutting them in half would be perfectly acceptable for gardening, but I wanted the height so I didn’t have to bend over or get them run over by my neighbors cars.
I would NEVER advise using the plastic liners – these are invariably filled with bad things (lubricants, oils, acids etc)
The liners are HDPE or PP (high density polyethylene or polypropylene) and only about 5mm thick (less than ¼”).  If you had a clean line you could cut it with a knife in either material.
 These containers are better known as ibc's. That's just short for intermediate bulk container. Try asking around at companies that use large quantities of chemicals just don't use the plastic part of the container unless it is safe.
Horse_Fly5 years ago
This is a really cool idea.  I have a raised bed in my yard and I wish I could push it around because it doesn't always get enough sunlight.

How deep are those gardens you are making?  I always thought most garden plants won't get roots much deeper than 12", so you could potentially cut those bins in 1/2 and make 2 gardens from 1 bin.  Or save yourself some money on dirt.  Just a thought.
jwilliamsen5 years ago
A cubic foot = 7.48 gallons.  Most soil in the US is sold by the cubic yard and/or by weight.
trevormates5 years ago
This is awesome!  I can remember when I had an apartment, I tried using large pots and it just didnt work.  Alternatively, I think you could build this out of PVC for the poly-boy cages and use caster fitting inserts from formufit.com to put wheels on it.
Jayefuu5 years ago
This instructable is really good. Nice idea! I'd suggest swapping the intro picture to the one with that's currently the second in the intro step, it'd make a much nicer thumbnail!