Hello fellow readers,
Several of you like the idea of standing tall while picking vegetables and are intrigued by the decorative possibilities of vertical gardens. Ted from Allamuchy uses a cattle panel arched in half so he can walk under it and secures each corner with T-posts – Walla, an inexpensive arched trellis. A cattle panel is typically four by 16 feet and made of light, flexible, sturdy, and sag-resistant wire. Perfect for keeping livestock in and veggies on!
Things to consider when using Wooden Pallets
Barb from Pen Argyl shared the idea of using a wooden pallet to create a decorative garden frame. I was skeptical as, historically, they are treated with toxic chemicals to prevent the transport of invasive insects and plant diseases as required by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). But companies are starting to use heat treatment rather than chemicals which overcomes a big part of the worry about reusing them. Pallets now require an IPPC logo, with initials if heat-treated (HT) or fumigated with Methyl Bromide (MB), and includes the initials of the country where made. Stay clear if labeled MB or those without a logo at all.
Wrap the back and sides of a pallet with 2 or 3 layers of black landscape fabric, wrapping the corners neatly like you would gift wrap. Use a staple gun, generous on the staples, to secure. Fill the frame from the open slats with a lightweight potting mix that drains well, lightly compacting as you go. Keep the soil moist and the pallet flat for a few weeks so the plants can get rooted. Then lean your artwork against the side of your house or deck rail. Beautiful! Sedums and other succulents make an adorable display for low light low water situations.
Of course, consider your growing conditions and plant characteristics when choosing plants. I’m hesitant to grow edibles in your recycled pallet, even if labeled HT and made in the US. After all, no one knows if something toxic spilled on it, where it was warehoused, or how it was transported. Maybe fussbudget is okay – it sounds thrifty! Call me cautious rather than a worrywart or fusspot.
Garden dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com and your favorite Podcast App.
Check out other columns on verticle gardening titled Pallet Garden & AC Screen and Vertical Veggie Gardening.
column updated 2/12/23