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How to Improve Your Garden With Old Pallets

Our garden is the farm's pride and joy. We love spending time in it, and preparing meals out of our fresh produce.

The internet is saturated with brilliant uses of old pallets. Because we are able to get large quantities of them for free from a local hardware store, we use them in a variety of ways around the farm. We use pallets as gates, animal pens, short stretches of fence, and hay feeders. We put them on the ground around our hydrants to keep from walking on mud and ice, and to keep feed from sitting directly on the ground. I have read they make really beautiful deck furniture, but that's a project for another year.

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Bring Life to Barren Ground

This year, we really wanted to use pallets in the garden. Getting inspiration from all the ideas out there, we wanted to utilize them in a way that really complemented our own setup.

We decided to use them as garden beds on top of our mulched areas. When we want to expand our garden, we cover the proposed area with old tarps for a year or two. This chokes out the grass and weeds before we prepare the new bed. Thanks to the pallet garden beds, we are able to turn these otherwise unproductive areas into temporary garden plots with minimal weed interference.

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Easy Raised Bed Gardening

Pallet garden beds have several advantages. They provide good drainage and warm up nicely in the spring, but unlike traditional raised beds, they are cheap or free. The boards on the top significantly improve weeding by covering a large percent of the soil and smothering out the weeds. The boards also keep your seeds planted in nice straight rows which makes weeding around tender seedlings easy.

We used seven pallets as a trial run. We set the pallets end-to-end in two rows directly on top of the tarps. Then we nailed scrap lumber over the open ends and on the small openings along the side to keep the soil from falling out.

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Step One: Fill Them Up

We filled the pallets about 3/4 full with compost. It took about one and half large wheelbarrows fill each pallet. Make sure to really pack the compost into all the corners with your hands, otherwise it will sink too much as it settles. We used compost from our compost bins, but you could use any type of soil, compost, or mix that you have available.

As a word of warning...don't pick up or try to move the pallets after you have filled them. All the dirt falls out and you have to start again. I'm sure most people with think this through, but just an FYI for all the people like me.

We filled up the pallets with topsoil, and they were ready to go!

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Step Two: Planting

We planted lettuce, chard, kale, spinach, and radishes in ours, and the seeds all germinated quickly. We planted a few rows of each variety a week, and we had a bountiful harvest throughout the year.

These pallet garden beds work well for leafy greens and other shallow-root vegetables. If you do plant crops such as radishes or beets, make sure to harvest them small, or perhaps choose cylindrical varieties, as large roots will not fit between the boards. Vegetables such as carrots are generally too long and will grow out the bottom of the pallets.

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Portable Garden

At the end of the growing season, we picked up the pallets and shook out the soil. Then we moved the tarps and pallets to a new spot, and we are ready for another year of pallet gardening.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Bellwether Farming

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