Heres how to build a raised bed out of pallets to grow salads or vegetables. It will cost you about £20 at the most in materials if you are savy and can source cheep compost. It has the potential to last for 20 years or more, and can grow hundreds if not thousands of pounds worth of salad over its life time... Its value is that it can be used in an urban context, here in the photo it is stood on top of concrete. you will need to make sure it can drain from the bottom if you are putting it on concrete.
You will need
- a pallet breaker or demolition tool. it makes the job loads easier .
- compost (bulky organic matter and concentrates,)
- power drill,
- screws (30mm, and 50mm),
- staple gun,
- damp proof course.
- stanley blade
( more information about growing food go to www.ediculture.org)
Step 1: Lever Apart Pallets
using a pallet breaker (i got mine from screw fix for 20 £ - its called a demolition tool) lever apart your pallets - you can get these for free from builders yards, and other such commercial places
Step 2: Hammer Flat Any Nails That Are Sticking Out.
With a hammer flatten any nails that are sticking up.
Step 3: MAKING THE CORNER POSTS -Find the Mid Point of the Central Bits of Wood and Saw in Half
Im lazy so I used a bit of string to find the mid point - this point may not make sense until you read the later ones -
Step 4: Saw in Half...
These corner posts will be roughly found running down the inside of the pallets - I found that they make good corner posts for the bed if you saw them in half and then screw back together....
Step 5: Screw Corner Bits Together....
Here we are screwing using a power drill the corner post bits of wood together - dont bother with pilot holes, just get some good screws and a decent drill. Hold force down on the drill and dont drill too quickly, so that you have control over it. Repeat this process 4 times till you have 4 corner posts.
Step 6: Align Your Side Planks to Your Corner Posts
As the photo shows, align your side bits (the flat bits of wood that you have taken off using the pallet breaker) up to the corner posts. screw down. ( i found that 1 good screw was enough on each side.
Step 7: Keep Going...
Keep adding more side planks and screwing them down until you get to the top of the corner posts, and then add another corner and carry on screwing down more side planks until you get a whole box. Keep and eye on alignment and try to keep it all square and neat and tidy.
Step 8: Staple Down Damp Proof Course.
Here's the clever bit. Use damp proof course (buy it to the width of the height of your bed or just over. (ie if your bed is 40 cm high, buy 40 cm wide damp proof so you dont have to cut it down) Here the damp proof is 2 ft wide and it is just enough to cover all the inside as well as having some for going over the top lip of the bed.
You may need to tweak the staples with a hammer to get them flat.
Step 9: Cut Down Corners...
Here the damp proof needs cutting at the corners so that we can staple it down the sides... like wrapping a christmas present.
Step 10: Staple Down Over the Top...
Pull the damp proof over the lip of the bed and staple it down. This finishes off the stapling and damp proofing. you should now have a bed ready for compost.
Step 11: Add Compost...
It is helpful if you have a bed that is not too high to tip straight into. here we are using municipal compost from the community green waste recycling center. it cost about £40 for 1.2 cubic meters. thats quite cheep. It is slightly inert matter which needs bringing alive, by adding a bit of manure and home made compost, as well as concentrates: rock dust, seaweed, pelleted chicken shit, etc. Don't get your compost from garden centers in 20 kg bag loads because it will cost you a fortune to fill. The bed in the photo took 7 wheel barrow loads to fill it. Once full with a gap from the top, level it out.