Over the years I have collected quite a few pallets, some from deliveries, others from neighbours, and some from junk piles outside houses locally (after asking if they are happy for me to remove them!). My wood-working skills are very basic, but from these I have managed to create compost bins, cold frames and a hot bed, almost entirely for free.
A must-have if you are hoping to use up your kitchen scraps and garden waste, these were the first garden structures installed once I had gathered enough pallets. Not wanting to over-complicate matters, I simply removed the planks in the middle leaving the exterior pallet structure. I then hammered stakes into the ground, and slid the pallet over the stakes to hold them in place.
After reading different instructions and suggestions for creating compost, I settled on making two bins. This way I can easily turn the waste back and forth to aid its break-down. Creating two ‘U’ shapes, I then covered them in chicken wire to keep all the debris in.
I already had some stakes, nails and a hammer in my toolbox, so the only thing purchased was the chicken wire – which was surprisingly pricey.
A friend was disposing of a couple of glass sheets from an old freezer. These were quite small, but I decided to try my hand at putting together a couple of basic cold-frames.
Using the middle planks removed from the pallets, I measured the glass panes, working out how wide and long the cold-frame would need to be to rest the glass on top. Cutting the planks accordingly, I used old wooden posts I already had as the corners and nailed everything together to produce a basic box. Cutting a notch into the front two corner posts, and the top side planks diagonally down the middle, this 45 degree angle and notch allows the glass to rest on top while providing as much sun as possible for the plants inside.
These little frames sit nicely at the entrance to the polytunnel. So far they have been useful in gradually transferring plants outside, but in the long-run I may need to make a few larger ones.
Another new experiment for 2022. Reading ‘The Polytunnel Book: Fruit and Veg all Year Around’ (by Joyce Russell) I came across instructions for making a hot bed. Russell suggests that cucumbers perform best in a hot bed, so I thought I’d give it a go!
With the remaining planks I removed any leftover nails by either pulling them out, or cutting them. Measuring the space available in the polytunnel, I adjusted the length and width of the bed, and made a box shape in exactly the same way as the cold-frames.
I did not want to waste time on treating the wood, so to increase its longevity and to protect it from soil and water, I used some old compost bags to give it a waterproof lining.
In 2021 I planted several Bothby Blonde Cucumber plants (6+) and ended up with far too many cucumbers for just my partner and I. This year I limited myself to only 3, planting them straight into the hot bed… and have far too many cucumbers once more! This cucumber variety is very productive, and the seed extremely easy to save (I grew this year’s plants from seeds saved in 2021). I think one, or two at most would be ample for our needs.
I also interplanted the cucumber plants with Aida Gold drawf beans, four plants in total. Two of these are now producing plenty of pods, but others – including some I planted in different locations around the garden outside the polytunnel – have been badly attacked by slugs and snails.
Until next time!