While I aspire to have a huge, highly productive veggie garden like my neighbor, I lack the time (and patience most days) to keep up with it like that style of gardening requires. Enter the pallets.
This not only filled an ugly spot along the side of the barn, but also takes advantage of the rain runoff from the barn roof which means very little watering is needed.
It is exposed to the north and west, but the barn offs a little protection from the wind off the field and the harshest sun in the late afternoon. Its easy to feed my goat the damaged plant pieces and weeds as I take care of it - his pen is right by the end of this row.
And the pallet keeps most weeds from growing between rows. I’ve been able to protect most of the plants from the bugs a little better this year by planting more onions and herbs between rows of lettuce and brussel sprouts that usually get pests pretty easily.
The one issue I’ve had this year is that the rain we’ve had has been pretty hard downpours so actually washed some of the soil downhill. I never enclosed the ends of the pallets so instead I piled small field rocks into the space and that seems to be holding well. I took advantage of the spaces at the ends of the pallets where there were awkward spots to try to mow and on the downhill side where the potting soil that washed out of the pallet accumulated. In this spot I used my sitting log as the defining edge and planted the area with peppers. There is a large variety here and they seem to like the spot.
On the uphill end I had a spot where some tomato seeds had sprouted themselves last year and did very well so I just planted most of my tomatoes there. Our generous neighbor gave me some and others I scored at the local greenhouse on sale after Memorial Day. I have since covered some of this with old hay as mulch.
To define the end, I used large strips of bark that have accumulated from my husband splitting fireplace wood and laid them down as mulch strips so the mower edge can be run right up to them. Then I used the old wheelbarrow that has holes worn through to plant potatoes. They seem to be pretty happy and despite the dog knocking it over a couple of times I can see little potatoes starting to form. This picture was taken about a week ago and I have since covered the plants in a layer of old hay. When they start peeking out again I will use dirt again for the next layer.
The kids and I have a lot of fun with this garden and although it doesn’t produce massive quantities, it gives us some fresh nibbles and lots of herbs to brighten up our meals and teaches the kids a lot about growing and nature. We really enjoy watching the honey bees from our neighbor’s hive come visit and our goat really enjoys the trimmings. If you don’t have a lot of space or a lot of time, but still want a hands-on way to teach your kids about growing your own food or just want a few little fresh goodies, I highly recommend pallet gardening.