Everyone knows how wonderful it is to garden! To grow for your'e own food, flowers or just grow for the fun of it. There is no better feeling!
But unfortunately there are a few dissapointments and difficulties in successfully developing and maintaining a flourishing terrace garden. Over the time I have seen a large number of terrace gardening enthusiasts give up due to the plants failing, be it due to pests, lack of watering, over watering, it just lack of proper resources
One solution I came up with is by building an ultimate squarefoot garden which is:
- Easy to build,
- Least carbon footprint and is
- Plastic free
Being my first instructable I wanted it to be a blast, so here are the step by step instructions of a wonderful project that has been documented for over 3 years. If it is not up to the standards of good instructable please comment the changes and I will be sure to include them if needed.
There are a lot of methods of terrace gardening in usage right now, the most prominent ones have neen discussed here in this cool instructable and clearly it explains why Square foot pallet is the best!.
The goal of this instructable is to show the world what the best way of roof gardening is. Being the first in a series we shall show u exactly what to do to successfully grow anything on a terrace. This is not just words in a blog but results from experience. Please post your'e terrace garden and share the experiences.
Step 1: Planning the Garden
First we need to map out the space..
The best part of most terraces are that they are extremely spacious.
- We need to setup a 2 foot or 3 foot(max) width and we can setup an infinite length and it is customizable based on the terrace availability. (or)
- one can just use one pallet at a time for very definite partitions(Although you would lose one or two planks extra this way)..(or)
- Use your imagination XD.
Step 2: Gather the Matireals
The simple components are:
There are tons of places to find good pallets.
Many transport and packaging companies discard pallets and we are using these "WASTE" pallets to build something really worth.
One can also easily find these pallets in local waste marts.
- It is readily available in all medical and surgical supply stores.
- Fairly inexpensive and buy the rubber as per the design.
- Nails(A lot of them)
- Hacksaw, Jigsaw(If available) or any other saw.
- Dremel tool(If available)
- Soil mix
- Watering can
Step 3: Denailing!!
In this entire project Denailing is the only difficult step.
Well here we take the top of the pallet apart so that the slabs can be hammered to the sides and a frame can be created for holding the waterproofing lining.
Denailing only what is necessary:
Obviously we mustn't denail the entire pallet, the beauty of the pallet is that it is already constructed the way we want it to be. We just need to denail the planks that run in the center of the pallet. We need 4-8 slabs in one pallet for the side boundries. If the pallet has some broken slabs or if the pallet has few slabs then keep one pallet aside and denail that pallet completely for the other ones.
So basically when the waterproofing fabric material is placed on top theremust be enough planks tohold and distribute the tension of the fabric to avoidbulging in the bottom when the soil is added
How to Denail:
There are many sophisticated ways to do the denailing like using a JIGSAW or specified tools made just for the purpose
The simplest method that anyone can adopt:
- Just introduce the chisel in between the wooden planks and create some leverage.
- Once a gap is created use a hack saw to cut the nail off, or try to remove the nail completely.
- Repeat the proccess.
- Even though cumbersome this method is less expensive and doable
If you have a dremel tool or a jigsaw, you can save a lot of time denailing.
Step 4: Putting Together the Framework
- First place two planks on either side of the base, and nail them from below upwards carefully. this is the most important step which determines the strength of the system. do it with care and caution.
- For filling the width, repeat the same process in one end of the model. in the other end, it can coupled with another model, according to the space available.
- Get a second persons help to hold it along the edges of the kit and nail it generously to fasten it.
- Now, once the basic design is over, the height of the model can be increased by adding another plank above the first one. This will double up the volume, which is suitable for growing root crops like radish and beets.
This height along with the root sharing area is more than enough to grow most of the horticultural and botanical plants in a garden.
Step 5: Waterproofing
This is the magic ingredient of the square foot garden!
Waterproofing Duckback rubber
we needed a waterproof material which is
- Plastic free
- durable - longlasting
- safe - non leaching
- cheap alternative
- least carbon footprint
Duckback rubber addresses all the above issues! It is made up of latex rubber(tree extract) and cotton fabric, and is readily available in all medical and surgical supply stores
We have tested it in multipple setups for more than 3 years and it is still water proofing and strong as ever.
Lining the kit
- Firstly place it in one length across the entire setup and use clips to fasten them
- Use extra bits of length and clip them to opposite sides.
- Start nailing or stapling the edges and boundries first one by one..
- (Pro Tip: Hammer the nails 70% inside and bend them physically sidewards to get a stronger lining)
- After the edges and boundries are done, go ahead and do the corners to define the shape of the soil holding container.
Step 6: The Soil Mix
Only the perfect soil mixture can yield the best produce for the gardener.
Some ingredients of a Healthy Soil:
- Garden soil
- Coco peat
- Manure (Petrified animal waste)
Our Golden mix:
- Coco peat
- Garden soil
in the ratio of 1:1:1
Also it is better to sundry the soil mix for a couple of days before using it!
Add 1 spoon of microbial mix in the soil mixture to create faster soil activation.
the mix must be free of stones and residual plastic
Using the soil:
- First apply a layer of dry matter(carbon source) like dry leaves, cardboard, husks, etc. to a hieght of 2-3 cms.
- Next apply the soil mix till the brim and neatly level it so as to create a good uniform surface.
- Water the soil thoroughly so that it is fully moist, but not wet.
- Spread a layer of mulch to eliminate evaporation of moisture.
- Let the soil cure for a few days, so that microbes start their work
Step 7: Watch Em Grow
Step 8: Our Experience With Square Foot Pallet
It has been three years since we built our first square foot. we constructed with discarded pallets and we used surgical class duck back rubber sheets. the results are more than what we expected. the wood is still free of major pest infestation, around 25% is weakened due to rains and scorching sun. otherwise the rubber sheet stands brand new and is protecting the wood from water seepage. in the present strength, I am confident that this will last for next 3 years easily.
The plants grew more healthier in the square foot when compared to grow bags, pest attacks were comparatively less due to healthy plants and hence the produce was eventually higher. and, still the plants in the square foot are growing as you read this instructable.
Step 9: Going Beyond to Grow Anything We Want....
This is the basic instructable for a series of instrables yet to come.
The goal of the series is to demonstrate the usage of the Square Foot Pallet in various applications like:
- Flowers: Square Foot Pallet Plant types: Botanicals
- Shrubs: Square Foot Pallet Plant types: Small and medium shrubs
- Creepers: Square Foot Pallet Plant types: Creepers
- Climbers: Square Foot Pallet Plant types: Climbers
- Drip system: Drip system on the Square Foot Pallet
- Garden Automation: Automation and electronics in the Square Foot Pallet
- Composting: Home brewed compost in the Square Foot Pallet