GROW O'ahu

Home Gardening in the 808

Another Box is Born



The garden started on a sidewalk.  Scrap wood, attached at the corners to make a walkway-to-nowhere into lettuce, chard, basil, cucumber bed.  Most of the plants in the sidewalk garden we moved from our other house, and they survived, surprisingly.  Then came pots.  Lots of them- with annoying weeds and grass growing between then, stuck in sunny corners, moved about to get light and plants outgrowing themselves.

Then came the Green Box Garden.  Two boxes to start with, from four shipping pallets.  Our little resistance to a system that depends on the outside to ship everything to us.  Then we built another one.

And today, another was born; our fourth box.  Just in case you are new and didn’t see how we did the first three, here’s some clues.  Simple simple simple…and cheap!

Painting..more mistinted green! We keep getting lucky.

Lined with landscape fabric and ready for dirt!

We used lag screw this time to make it more sturdy.

Fourth box gets some long term residents: Okinawa sweet potato, heirloom purple brussels sprouts and kale.

Protecting the recent transplants from wind and sun…and yet more uses for plastic produce boxes I have friends save for me.

Some questions I have answered to friends about the boxes:

Why use pallets, why not just put the stuff in the ground?

Most houses are built after several inches of top soil have been removed.  So most home gardeners spend a lot time amending their soil so they can grow anything.  Plus, we have dogs and a toddler who trample over anything so the little plant babies needed protection in the form of height.  Plus, shipping pallets are FREE.  We just ask for them and most places, like Ace Hardware and City Mill have been happy for us to take them.  If we were to have spent the money on new materials to build these, I would be blogging about the $54 tomato.

Why bother painting them? Isn’t that a lot of work?

It is an extra step, and takes the longest of all the steps.  There’s many sides of the wood to paint, but it’s worth it.  First, the bare wood probably wouldn’t last one year if we didn’t paint them.  Also, it looks nicer!  And the green, well it was just chance that it was the mistinted paint on sale one day.  It very well could have been the Pink Box Garden, but now that there are four of them out there, I’m glad they are green, as it’s a little less shocking to the eye and blends in nicely.  Not so feng shui to have like bright purple pallets in the backyard..course, it could be cool too!

What do you line them with?

The main four we have lined with black landscape fabric.  Another tiny one tucked back in a corner I did with burlap.  It’s experimental to see how long it takes for the burlap to break down, because I’d rather use a natural fiber, but not if it’s disintegrated in 6 months.

How do you space your plants? What do you put in each box?

This is not scientific.  I try to follow some general guidelines about companion planting, but ultimately, if a seedling is ready to be moved from the kitchen seedling rack, it goes where ever it will fit!  Today I tucked squash in around the corn and interspersed lettuce by the carrots.  Small gardens have to bend the rules.

About a day to complete one of these. That is on our island time, we don’t get in a hurry. 🙂

Author: Carmen

Things I love: justice in all forms; flowers; locally grown food; cloth-diapering; breastfeeding; feminist theory; outdoor play; beaches; wine; Divine interventions; 4-H and coffee. Things I loathe: racism; homophobia; toxic crap; misogyny; litterbugs; the zombie apocalypse and pitbull-haters. My formal education is in sociology, gender studies, and public policy. I'm also a Lactation Educator; 4-H Youth Development coordinator a Certified Master Gardener and a graduate of a Permaculture Design Course. I've been blogging for several years on dozens of topics- everything from women's health to breed-specific legislation. But the thing I like to write about most is my gardening, food adventures and my kids. So there you have it. Please be kind. Thanks.

14 thoughts on “Another Box is Born

  1. Congrats on your fourth box! Have you decided what you are going to put into the fourth box?

    I haven’t realized how simple it is to make these green boxes. Okay, how did you attach it together? I have no tools in this house, unless you count a hammer and screwdrivers as tools. LOL I would like to make it a little smaller, since I share the yard with my mom’s plants.

    • This box for Okinawa sweet potato, kale & Brussels sprouts. And I’m working on a pallet garden design for a smaller space. Stay tuned!

      • Cool! I can’t wait for that post!

        Yum, yum!!! Good choices. I can’t wait to see them when they are “born”. LOL I’m sure “born” is not the correct terminology, but it just sounds cute. Reminds me of Harry Potter, they have these potted babies with carrot tops as heads. All I remember is that they scream bloody murder when taken out of the pot. OH man, I just geeked out right now. LOL

      • I love that scene! Sometimes my hubby teases me and says, “Good thing Hermione pays attention in herbology…” *geeks unite* LOL

  2. I just love your boxes. I want to try a few next year.

  3. So wishing I had a yard right now!!!!!

  4. Just wanted to say a quick thank you for the idea, inspiration, and your husband’s help getting us started. Our first couple sprouts mysteriously disappeared but we now have 4 rows of various green popping up. Troy really enjoyed going out there and counting the new ones and then runnng inside to report them to Kate.

  5. how do you keep the rabbits and other little critters out of them

  6. Hi I love this, it looks like I can do this easy enough.So do you fill the whole box up with good dirt,or only part of the way.Also what work better for the box plastic or the burlap .Thanks

    • We filled the boxes most of the way up, only because I didn’t want to do a bunch of bending and to make the plants eye-level for little ones helping in the garden. I liked the weed barrier fabric better than burlap, it lasted much longer.


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