Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Camp Crafts with our Bruers: Victor's Reclaimed Pallet Herb Garden

This is a project that arose from the desire to create a vertical herb garden that wouldn’t occupy much square footage since the rest of my backyard is pretty much occupied with growing several varieties of the hottest peppers in the world.

I had seen a few Etsy posts from my wife that touched on the subject and gave me a good head start in the design department. I didn’t use any one specific set of directions, rather I just pulled the best ideas from several sets of plans that I had decided were the best fit for what I wanted. This project really doesn’t require any set of specialized skills as long as you can use a few basic hand tools and a circular saw.

Materials used:
  • 3 - 4 Re-claimed pallets (we end up with quite a few busted ones here at The Bruery)
  • Hammer
  • Cats paw (to remove unwanted nails)
  • Circular saw
  • Level
  • Drill
  • Wood screws
  • Weed block fabric

Step 1:
Locate three or four pallets with wooden slats that are still in relatively good shape. The backbone of the project is an entire pallet with the bottom slats removed. With the remaining two or three pallets you will need to carefully remove the slats from the three runners that make up the pallet.

Once the slats are removed from the pallet, you will need to use the cats paw to remove all of the nails from the slats. Whats left is a pile of ready to use pallet slats.

Step 2:
Next you’ll need to prepare the main pallet that will be holding the individual planter boxes. To do this, I set the pallet up roughly where its final resting place would be and played around with a few different angles to see what looked best. Once I was happy with my decision, I used my level to scribe a level line on each runner of the pallet so when I cut this piece of wood off it would rest at the angle I had chosen.

This was followed up by removing the slats on what would normally be the bottom but is now the face of the pallet. I removed all but the very bottom one as you can see in the image below.

Step 3:
This part of the project is open to your own interpretation. I chose to build the planter in three tiered levels with the largest planter box on the bottom layer and the smallest on top. Each layer is actually two separate boxes on either side of the middle runner resulting in six separate planter boxes total. A fourth layer of boxes could easily be added to the planter if you wanted more planting space. The depth of each tier is open to interpretation as well.

I ended up getting lucky with my dimensions on this one since I was completely spitballing the entire time. After all the soil and plants had been added to the planter, it actually stood up on its own with the weight of each box cantilevering the pallet away from the wall so it is actually completely freestanding and surprisingly well balanced.

I won't add any specific dimensions or measurements as every pallet can vary in exact size but that's part of the fun of this project -- getting to be creative and interpret this for yourself.

The tricky part to get everything to have a snug fit is to match the angle of the backbone pallet with each individual box. This was done by cutting the two side pieces of each box to the same angle as the backbone pallet. Each of the six boxes was made up of front, back, two sides and three bottom slats.

I started with the bottom set of boxes and once I had the size of one box I just used the same measurement for the twin. This was repeated for each tier. Once I had all of the boxes cut, I screwed the front, back and sides together. The last step was to cut the bottom slats for each one. They each received three bottom slats spaced out evenly. There will be small gaps in the slats on the bottom but that is fine as you will use the weedblock fabric to line each box to hold in the soil.

Step 4:
Once the boxes are fully assembled, you will need to secure them to the vertical support. I slid each box into place and made sure it was level with the ground while the vertical support rested at its final angle before securing the boxes with wood screws. If you cut the angle right on the sides of each box it should rest against the vertical support at the perfect angle.

Final step:
Once all of the boxes have been secured, all thats left is to line each one with weedblock fabric or landscaping fabric. I chose weedblock because I was trying to spend as close to nothing on this project as possible. I already had the wood screws and materials laying around as well as all of the tools necessary. This left me with only having to buy the roll of weedblock which was about $12. All in all spending about 12 bucks for a decent sized herb planter made me pretty happy.

Now just go to your local farmers market or Home Depot or Armstrong or whatever other nursery you have nearby and stock up on some cool herbs. In my planter there are: two types of strawberries, Basil, Thai Basil, Oregano, Lemon Thyme, Grapefruit Mint and Chocolate Mint.

Since this project was completed over the  course of several weekends when I could carve out some time, I had the ability to bring my beer drinking passion with me to each day of the project and enjoy a multitude of awesome different beers (mostly what I could find in my “Bruery beer cellar” AKA the garage). If it wasn't a beer from The Bruery that I was drinking, it was something hoppy and delicious Like Stone Go To IPA or Easy Jack or Nooner.

This is a project to have fun with and not get too caught up in making every little detail perfect. There are also always plenty of references online that can provide answers to questions that may arise or you can just choose one set of plans that very explicitly explains every single step and measurement in detail if that is something you would feel more comfortable with.

To wrap this up I say, "Go forth into the wild and reclaim those old discarded pallets!"... and enjoy some craft beer along the way.

Post written with care by Victor Lester, our Packaging Supervisor and pepper eating competition chairperson.

Make some more summertime crafts with our Bruers. Check out our Pinterest board and these related blogposts: