So, my wife and I moved to a 2nd floor front Chicago greystone with no greenspace but it does have faux balcony over the front entry that can only be accessed by climbing through a window. We decided that this space must be utilized as urban gardening space.
While looking around for container garden solutions, we came across the not so affordable UK "air-pot" design that encourages better root growth than traditional container gardening. Intrigued and still wanting an affordable solution, milk crates came to mind with some sort of liner. Milk Crates seem to be laying around all over the place until you actually start searching for them. Fortunately, we found an inside connection to "borrow" them from for the growing season.
To stay true to the "air-pot" concept we needed the liner to be breathable; landscaping fabric was the obvious choice. A $10 roll of landscaping fabric commonly comes in a 3' x 50' roll which is enough to make 24 milk crate liners. How's that for affordable?
Step 1: Required Tools and Materials
24 - milk crates (washed and sanitized)
1 - roll 50' x 3' landscape fabric
1 - spool all-purpose polyester thread
Measuring Device - Tape / Ruler
Sewing Machine or (Needle, Thread and Patience)
Give extra liners to friends so they can grow on their balconies and then share the bounty!
Step 2: Measure Your Milk Crate
The inside dimensions of a standard crate should be approximately 11" deep by 12" square.
If your crate is a different sized adjust the size of your fabric cuts accordingly. The fabric cut dimensions are 1" greater that width and circumference of the crate.
Step 3: Cut Landscaping Fabric
For six milk crates with the least waste.
3 - 13" x 36" pieces vertically from the fabric
2 - 49" x 36 pieces vertically from the fabric
Now cut each:
13" x 36" piece into two 13" x 13" bottoms
49" x 36" piece into three 49" x 12" sides
You should now have an even 6 bottoms and 6 sides ready to be sewn together.
Step 4: Sew Liners
- place the bottom 13 x 13" piece on top of the sides 49 x 12" piece
- line up edges and corner.
- sew along the long edge
- stop 3/4" before end of the bottom piece's edge
- lift the pressure foot and rotate
- continue around remaining three edges
- finally sew the side edge seam
Step 5: Insert Liner
Line up seam on side and stretch over edges of the crate.
Step 6: Add Dirt and Plants ... Wait ... Eat!
Water transplants well and fertilize regularly.