It would be nice if everyone had a few acres of land, and all the time in the world to spend working on a home garden. But this is not the situation most find themselves in. What happens to those of us who appreciate home-grown herbs, fruits, and vegetables but do not have the land or the time to care for garden plants? We turn to the invents of Urban Farming and the resulting plant box gardening technique *applauds*!
One of the most popular solutions for the urbanite with a gardening itch is the use of plant boxes, rather than the traditional method of row farming directly into the soil. By using these boxes renters, apartment dwellers, and even home owners that must abide to strict city ordinances can create a lush high yielding gardens without breaking out the tiller. Better yet, these boxes can even be created with reclaimed materials and do not require an extensive knowledge of carpentry to build. All that is necessary is a hammer, some galvanized nails, a hand saw, no VOC paint, and some reclaimed or new wood.
Because these boxes are being custom-made *winks* there is no specific dimensions that must be used; no drafted working document on how to manufacture a plant box. However, it is good to consider the ease of use when deciding on the length, width, and depth of the boxes. To best be able to reach anywhere in the box it is best not to create dimensions that are any greater than 4’ from one side to the next. The depth of the box depends on what type of plants are to be housed in it, and the amount of weight the structure it will be placed upon can handle; dirt and water are heavy. Also, consider the width of the boards used to create the box because wood that is too thin will not support the dirt and water weight inside the box once filled.
With that said, I would recommend no more than a 24” depth, and no less than 12” deep, and leave the decision as to whether the bottom of the box is wood or weed cloth up to the specific situation; boxes for a roof top or porch would need a wood bottom while a box in the yard could use a weed cloth bottom. To put the box together just cut the wood material to the length and depth you desire of your box, nail them together, and paint them to prevent premature deterioration. Yes, it really is as simple as it sounds—measure, cut, nail together, and paint. To add a bit of extra support to the corners, if deemed necessary, a galvanized right angle joint is an inexpensive and readily available option.
Then next step, of course, is to prepare the box for planting by filling it with a growing medium and then seeds or started plants. Here is where it gets really interesting because plants in these types of boxes are grown closer together then they would be in a traditional row-garden. No worries though, placing plants a bit closer to each other does not reduce yield-- but aids in choking out weeds and helps ease harvesting.
It is easy to see that the Urban Farm method of plant boxes is way different from traditional land consuming row planting methods. In doubt that plant boxes work? Take a gander and invest in one planter box, for one growing season, and see for yourself. Urban farming is not impossible, expensive, or time-consuming when using alternate methods (plant boxes) of gardening. Honestly, it is less expensive than buying inferior produce from the grocery. Think about it, try it, and pass it on.