Garden Cart From Reclaimed Wood

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About: A lowly geologist who likes to build stuff.

We've previously tried and failed to grow our own vegetables; the failures were mainly due to a lack of light, pests and a lack of attention. After taking down a decorative wooden structure in our yard I couldn't bring myself to discard the wood that would have cost hundreds of dollars almost 20 years ago. So we decided to reuse the wood to build a raised garden on wheels. The wheels allow us to move it to the optimal position for light and water and cart it out of the way for a garden party or winter skating rink. This was definitely a trial and error project, with the design evolving continually. This made it all the more rewarding; we are now watching the bounty grow everyday.

As with any reclamation project, expect a chunk of time to remove screws and nails. We ended up reusing most of the screws, so keep them in a tin when you can.

We used the following items for this project:

  • Reclaimed wood.
  • 4 wheels ordered from Amazon 2 fixed and 2 swivel. I am sure you can find a better deal in a scrap yard...
  • A few extra 1x8" rough boards of treated wood for the base of the box (none of the reclaimed wood was appropriate).
  • Left over pool cover to line the box.
  • Various screws and hardware.

Tools for this project included:

  • Chop saw, angle cut a bonus
  • Cordless drill
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure, pencil and other various tools

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Step 1: The Frame

The availability of several long 4" by 4" pieces meant that I could go pretty big without worrying too much about stability. The limiting factor was the mobility, this rig is too heavy for my girls to drag on the lawn. When using reclaimed wood, you should always consider the length of available material. You may have several 2 foot long boards, so you should consider using this as one of your dimensions (width of the box) to maximize use and minimize cuts. The final dimensions were 30" by 72" and 42" high. I would have gone a bit shorter if I had a redo, but the height is actually has one advantage (see last step).

I decided to build everything on top of two 2" by 6" boards so that the wheels did not fight to tear the legs apart. I was concerned about sagging of the weight from the wet dirt so I bought four rough 2" by 6" treated boards which should stand the test of time.

We used the decorative boards to form the edge of the box and used miter joints (45 degree cuts) in the corners with alternating the lengths at 2/3 of the 72 inches. The result would be right at home in any hipster restaurant or barber shop. We quickly dropped the idea of staining it, as the look is pure "distressed barn look".

Step 2: Liner

I decided to line the box to lengthen the life of the wood. I used leftover pool cover (industrial bubble wrap). I put the bubble side in contact with the wood so that there is a chance of air circulation. I cut some a few slits in the the cover to allow excess water to drain out, and stapled it into place.

Step 3: Plant

I would not qualify ourselves as green thumbs, there have been many failures to learn from. Read the instructions on the seed or plant packages and makes sure you leave enough space; you may be tempted to pack it in, with such limited space. There are many great gardening instructables that will give you a head start (fertilizer, weeds, water...).

Step 4: Results

So far our garden is going crazy! Instead of putting in trellis to provide a structure for the plants to grow onto, we decided to let it overflow and onto the shelf underneath. I put in a few screws at strategic spots for the tendrils to grab onto and hold up the plentiful bounty that is on its way.

This project was extremely rewarding because of the reusing of materials into something we should use for years to come to feed ourselves.

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    5 Discussions

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    shalnachywyt

    8 weeks ago

    Please, please! DO NOT USE TREATED WOOD. Regardless of the claims that it is perfectly safe to raise vegetables in, it is not. Similarly, BigandRed's idea of using shellac flakes and thinners will also poison you eventually as the water from rain etc, will absorb those poisons and the plants will take up that water within themselves. The pool liner will eventually break down as well. I have pool liner lining the paths in my concrete-bed raised garden and tiny pieces of it have been blown into the beds by the wind which necessitates taking time to pick them out of the dirt.

    2 replies
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    BigAndRedshalnachywyt

    Reply 8 weeks ago

    Shellac is safe enough and the thinners will evaporate within a day, when you cant smell the thinners it is gone.
    Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug, on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. It is processed and sold as dry flakes (pictured) and dissolved in alcohol to make liquid shellac, which is used as a brush-on colorant, food glaze and wood finish.
    From Wikipedia
    And if you are scared the Linseed oil will kill you then use grape seed oil which is consumable, makes a good salad dressing.
    Do not make salad dressing with lacquer thinners as it will taste funny!

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    Renard_Bleushalnachywyt

    Reply 8 weeks ago

    This was considered, and is why I lined with a heavy duty liner (you couldn't tear it with your hands). It may not be food grade, but it is designed to resist to sunlight and moisture, so I don't expect it to degrade. No dirt is touching the wood, and any water in contact with wood will drain away from the dirt. Do you have any recommendations on material to use as the liner.

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    BigAndRed

    Tip 8 weeks ago

    Nice box, love the old recycled wood.
    Consider oiling the wood to aid water proofing and bring out the grain in the wood.
    I use a 50/50 mix of Boiled Linseed oil and lacquer thinners on recycled pallet projects. The thinners make the oil penetrate the wood and dry quicker. Linseed oil will darken the wood more with each layer you apply.
    Dissolving shellac flakes in thinners then decanting that and adding the oil to that mix also will give a nice shinny finish. Mix about 1/3 of each.

    1 reply
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    Renard_BleuBigAndRed

    Reply 8 weeks ago

    Thanks for the comment, I will take consider that once the plants get out of my way!