Tanya was a woman on a mission: She wanted to build a pallet planter for strawberries that met her standards for stability, soil capacity and aesthetics. Tanya didn't hesitate in putting her hands to work once she realized she'd have to create her own planter design. "Eventually, after finding nothing that really jumped out at me, I came to the conclusion that I'd have to come up with my own design," she writes on her blog, Lovely Greens.
The design she created is beautiful and practical; using blocks from the pallet as feet is not only good-looking, it helps with drainage and slows down the inevitable rotting of the bottom. Tanya recommends a jigsaw and electric screwdriver for this project, but "I'm quite sure that anyone who is comfortable using a hammer and hand-saw could complete this project."
The first thing that Tanya does is to split the pallet into three equal parts by sawing first one side, then flipping it over and sawing the other side in the same places. Tanya's pallet has nine slats, so her three parts have three slats each.
The next step is to disassemble the three sections. Tanya carefully removes the short slats and blocks from the middle piece and the short slats from one side of the two end pieces, and sets them all aside for later use.
With a mallet and wedge, Tanya separates the blocks from the center section from the slats they're attached to. The blocks will become the feet for the strawberry planter, and the slats will become the short sides.
Next, Tanya builds the actual container. She recommends an electric screwdriver for attaching the bottom (the center of the three cut pieces) to the long sides (the ends of the three cut pieces). The short sides are attached by screwing the short slats (formerly attached to the blocks) onto the ends. The final step is to screw in the blocks as feet.
Tanya likes to use wire on the bottom of the planter, to cover the slats and create an even bottom. She covers the wire with landscape fabric and straw, then fills the planter with "farmyard manure and compost" and plants her berries. This photo shows a 2-year-old planter of strawberries, with plenty of fruit about to ripen!
Since the planter will be growing food, it should be made from a heat-treated pallet, not a chemically-treated one -- look for the letters "HT" in the pallet's stamp (see Tanya's blog post for examples). If you decide to paint the planter to match your decor, use non-toxic outdoor wood paint.
Strawberry season is almost here -- share this article with your gardening friends now!