Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pallet garden

I have the most tolerant of husbands, who, thank goodness, does not care one whit about how nice the lawn looks (see photo of my pallet garden bed above). I built a cucumber bed out of an old shipping pallet, based on an idea provided by my sis-in-law. My thinking was that pallets are made of cheap, raw wood, I have several of them from having various bricks and mulches delivered and I even see them in “free” piles from time to time. But then I thought that maybe this was not a good use. Several sources said they were indeed raw wood, but others warned they might be treated and not suitable for vegetable beds (as chemicals can leach into the soil). Well, I think I go the definitive answer from Don Schmidt, Illinois State University, from his “Dean of Green” radio segment and pod cast (available for free on I-tunes). Or go to: http://www.wglt.org/podcasts/Dean_of_Green.xml

The Dean of Green reported that very few international (not domestic) shipping pallets are treated, and then they are treated with either heat or methyl bromide (‘we don’t want no more stinking Emerald Ash Borers to come into the country on shipping pallets!’), which he felt was acceptable for garden use. There are a few caveats, though:

1. They will only least a few seasons as they are raw wood (but they are free!)

2. They are small, but can be good starter frames for raised beds (and they are free!)

3. Only use ones to which you have legitimate access (i.e. free ones or ones you got materials shipped on), because reusing them is their best destiny (until they show up in that free pile!)

4. You might want to remove some of the top and bottom slats to free up soil surface (and they are free!)

So, this fall I will create a few more beds for fall greens and use the area for tomatoes in the future.

Happy Gardening!


Anita said...

I like that idea; having a confined, specific space. I'll be waiting to see the pictures as things progress along.

Judy Thomas said...

Here's a (tongue in cheek??) response to the pallet bed from my sis-in-law, yes, the very same one who gave me the idea!


What a hideous bed! I hope you plant some little flowers around this ogre to soften the eye and keep it from looking like the catch pile from your latest shipment of cement blocks.

Criminy! Sometimes you should just take these silly suggestions from your sis-in-law and throw them in the trash!!

Your gorgeous gardens with their lush flowers STAINED by a pallet—what has come over you?! A saving grace that it will rot over the next few years and allow you to come to your senses.

Anita said...

I guess hadn't thought of all that (sis-in-law comment). I'm like Mikey from the cereal commercial: Instead of "Give it to Mikey, he'll eat anything," it's "Tell Anita, she'll believe anything." I still want to see the upcoming pictures!