Monday, 21 April 2014

Strawberry Pallet Garden - Easter Weekend

OK, so this is what kept me busy on this 4 day Easter Weekend. Needs must because in order to pull one of my garden beds apart to remove the Kikuyu runners from the soil i needed to replant my strawberry plants.   I'm lucky that at our factory many of the electrical components arrive on pallets.  The larger ones we can reuse to send goods out but the smaller ones are not much use.  I don't know what happened to them in the past but more recently they've been put aside for me.  I've got a pile of six there now and so i brought a few home this weekend to start this project - Operation Strawberry Pallet Garden.   Oh before i move on, can you see that the grass is starting to die, Yippey!! , said no one ever except me.

This is what they look like when i get them.  4 evenly spaced cross planks on front with 2 on the back (which would really be the bottom)
First job is to remove the two centre planks and to move one up and one down to make two double planks. For someone that is a handyman that might seem a simple thing and yet for others you might just wonder how to go about doing that.  These were new pallets and so they are newly nailed and quite strong.  Under the guidance of one Hubby, I used a pinch bar and and a hammer to wedge the bar between the plank (above the nail) and the upright support. Give it a gentle tap first to open it up and then you can give it a good whack and then lever it away from the frame.  I did this on all three sets of nails across until i was able to lever the whole plank off cleanly.  This left the nails in fairly good order. Hubby hammered them back through and i used the claw on the pinch bar to pull them out without bending them too much.  Once Hubby straightened them, i was able to use the nail holes already there and drive the same nails back into the new position using a hammer.  I am repurposing the pallets and reusing the nails.  

Are you wondering why I'm being a trades assistant and doing most of the manual labour.  Hubby had surgery last week on his foot and will be out of action for up to 12 weeks.  Using open surgery they cut his plantar fascia (the Arch Tendon) leaving just enough to support an arch.
Don't you just love his scooter (hired).  Instead of using crutches you kneel with your sore leg on the seat and scoot with the other.  The injured foot never touches the ground.   As we have no stairs he can get around quite well inside the house.  
The bottom plank at the back also has to come off and be moved one plank space up.  This forms the back of the bottom planter.

Now do i make sense?
Next was a paint job.  Use a good exterior paint as its going to be in the sun and watered regularly.  Don't worry the soil or growing medium wont touch it.  Lucky we are mid way through painting our front fence and so i already had exterior paint on hand.  Being raw, the wood really soaked it up.

I'm doing this on the deck so you can be sure i was being extra careful where the paint landed.  
I feel like I'm being too simple with these instructions.  I know you are all smart individuals and i apologise if you think i am treating you like simpletons.  Since so few readers leave comments i don't know who is reading my blog (but my views are up to 35000+ in 14 months) and they are apparently from everywhere and so I'm hoping that if you cannot understand my words or my poor grammar (lets face it, I'm Australian) then at least the pictures will give you a clue.  As always, my posts are for beginners, like me.

Next step is to make pockets within the frame to hold the soil and plants.  I had a choice of using the weed mat im using out the back or some scraps of shade cloth i had left over in the shed.  I chose the shade cloth and using scissors i cut two strips.  This is hard to explain and so look at the picture first.

In hindsight i should have just pulled out the sewing machine and run up the seams but i wasn't in the mood.  I used one wide piece (with a 3cm allowance on each side) and a staple gun (HD) to secure it at the top on one side (turning a small hem over to make it neat) and then leaving enough cloth to reach the bottom of the bottom plank and back up to the other top.  Once again turn a small hem and staple.  Because there was an allowance on the side you can now fold that towards the centre and staple.  You could leave it at the point but i wanted more strength in the bottom so i took a thin strip and did it the other way round (L to R) ending up with a double layer on the bottom and the sides covered up edges and making it neat. Phew, not sure if that made sense.

This is what it looks like from the back.  Yeah, i would definitely sew them next time.  Do you think the strawberry plants will notice the substandard work?

OK, we are getting there.  Now, everyone tells me that because the vessel is free draining that I'm going to have problems keeping it moist.  What to do?  Look for a very moisture retentive medium to grow in. Featuring...   coconut coir.   I bought a small block that grew and grew and grew and grew until it filled the wheelbarrow.

When you are using this stuff, make sure you do so over grass and use gloves.  You add water (30L) to the block to make it expand and any leaking liquid will contain tannins that could stain your hands or concrete.

This one came from Bunnings and it had added fertilisers and was suitable for planting directly into it.  This is of course, is just an experiment on my behalf but I'm hoping that when the pallet gardens are mounted that they will have a drip watering feeder to each plant.  I do know that when i watered the top level it dripped down to the bottom level and very little escaped out the bottom.  These will however be mounted over a ground level garden bed and so any moisture dripping below will water the plants below.

Looking Good.  I certainly didn't leave it this way though.  Any plant that's been ripped out of it nice warm bed and replanted is going to be stressed.  So to minimise this and to allow the plants to recover i ate these strawberries (someone had to do it and they were so so sweet) and trimmed the leaves back to the next layer of growth which was about 10cm from the roots.  After a thorough drink i had to place them not on the intended mounting spot (its not built yet) but into one of the raised beds not being used.  Someone else likes strawberries and digging - i wonder who?

Tilly watching me do all the work.  On the left are the remaining strawberry plants.  
I may have to resort to Styrofoam boxes or giving them away.  There are so many plants in this small area and I've run out of pots.  Jessie!  Ella!  Sharon!

I haven't finished them yet but with it being Easter the tile centre was closed.  Ive found what i want online but I'm hoping there is old stock at the local place. I'm hoping to add a feature tile to the front to decorate the pallet gardens.

Check out other fantastic tiles here.  The Tile Mural Store has some great murals and feature tiles.

I love strawberries and I'm looking forward to a summer of my favourite strawberry salad.

Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar is a match made in heaven. 

You dont think all this was enough to keep me busy do you.  I read two wonderful books.  The first one, Souvenir (Therese Fowler) was a debut novel and is very good.  I wasnt planning on reading but my Bestie dropped it off for me and that was it.  I looked at it for a few hours and then i was gone for the rest of the day.  Yep, im a book a day girl.  The second novel was a light Australian yarn about a Dr working FIFO on a mining site.  Ive read Charlotte Nash's other books and they are a good read when you dont want anything heavy (i was suppose to be gardening, remember).

The rest of the weekend was spent doing the usual, housework, shopping and cooking.  Hubby is feeling quite depressed at the moment being injured and unemployed.  A big steak always picks him up, maybe its the extra iron.

Yes my beans.
Oh and for the gardeners, this is the last of the tomatoes till next season.

I first posted a pic of this bowl with tomatoes on the 15th December here.  Mid Dec to Mid April, that's not a bad season.

Hope you all enjoyed your Easter Break whether it was a Staycation like me or a trip away.   Since Anzac Day is next Friday, we have a 3 day weekend next week.

Thanks for visiting Living In The Land of Oz


  1. I love what you did with the pallets! I near your house on the weekend and thought about popping in for a coffee but had the kids with me and I was their taxi driver for the morning. I hope to come and check out your garden soon, I know I can get so many ideas from you.

    1. Welcome to the comments section Nat. Glad to have you on board. My garden is in no fit state for visitors - though you are welcome anytime. Im pulling everything a part (slowly - those books get in the way) to do them properly.

  2. LOVE it!!!!! What a great reuse of pallets and use of space! (This is Shelby, on Mark's account)

  3. I thought you would like them. I think you will love the gutter gardens which are to come. We had a big storm and lots of rain and wind last night and i looked out to where the beds are and the strawberries look very flat. Had to go to work and it was too wet so i guess ill see how they fair tomorrow.

  4. I love them Lynda and I love the instructions as I need it simple and it still sounds hard lol. I hope Rob is recovering ok. You have been really busy, we often get these pallets at work Im going to have to get a couple as my strawberries this season were hideous I hardly got any. Oh I would love to eat that steak right now as Im feeling rather hungry. You know the thing that stuck at the most in this post for me .... I will give you one guess ...... Tilly standing on the garden bed she is soooo funny lol. Cheeky girl what a good helper she is lol. I do know the choice Tom made and Im pretty sure it wasnt a chocolate bunny. Sounds like Tyler and all I can say is what a good healthy choice lol.

    1. I agree, Tilly is the funniest dog we have ever known. She is such a strange unusual character. One minute she is laying on a pillow face to face with you having a conversation (scooby doo speak) and the next minute she is walking on the back of the couch like she is a cat, then shes doing parkour around the house (which includes bouncing off my boobs or Robs tummy - springboard) or out in the garden being destructive or eating the veggies. She makes us laugh.....

  5. Your puppy is the funniest little fruit loop! Reminds me of my kids to be honest. ;)
    Those strawberry beds look gorgeous. What I love most about your garden is that you not only do it well, you do it pretty too! I don't have the patience for pretty and my skills are still coming up to "well" but we get there. :) Can't wait to see the new and improved Castle de Lynda

    1. I think the difference is that your garden is so so so much bigger and also its your work, your livelihood, you live off it (or will). Mine, at the moment, is my joy, my hobby, my therapy. X

  6. Love your strawberry planters Lynda. Great reuse of a usually discarded by product.

    Gav x


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