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Growing local

We made these today with a few basic materials.When the soil settles, I'll mulch them with cut Vetiver stems.
Milk crates work really well. Compact. Space efficient. I've been using milk crates for growing herbs for years.
I'm not sure how these crates 'insult' each other but if they hugged, they could 'insulate' instead.

Usually for herb growing, I insert an unglazed terracotta wine cooler into the centre of the crate for olla watering.

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Comment by Dave Riley on October 14, 2019 at 13:53

Longara sells their milk crates for $6 each,.

Butted together and compared to the cost and the far less moveable metal raised garden beds -- a 200 x 100 x 41cm will set you back close to $100 -- 6 milk crates  (36.2mm x 36.2mm x 32.5cm)  make for good lego at almost a third the price. And you can elevate them by adding a layer of crates underneath for easy no bend  gardening.

Comment by Dave Riley on October 12, 2019 at 20:46

I stuffed up the link to the Garden Culture Magazine. Here it is and it is well worth a read: Milk Crate Urban Farming.

Milk crates make a great raised garden building component, providing both the growing container and a stand. They’re made of rugged injection molded resins that will hold up for long use outdoors. Both sidewalls and bottoms drain freely, and because of the open framework of both, with the right liner you’ve got a fabric pot in a rigid holder with handles.

The crates they are using in the article are much smaller than our Australian standard.

While we made the set up for my daughter who has not a green thumb, I do think it may also suit a future project we have in mind of  a local community garden: good tank water volume but limited growing area. So in order to fit more gardeners in the space, milk crates make sense to me.

Crates, as I say, can be obtained from Dump Shops. But if you are running short of your planned number check out this supplier --   Longara Plastics in Brendale.

Comment by Travis Franklin on October 12, 2019 at 18:06

Awesome idea Dave. I love how you put these infographics together

Comment by Dave Riley on October 12, 2019 at 17:57

Practice is to put one crate underneath each soil filled crate to get the easy back height and encourage air flow.

Comment by Christa on October 12, 2019 at 16:23

Great use of plastic milk crates, Dave. You could put them up on an old coffee table and they would be more accessible for bad back gardeners.  A row of sugar cane bales between them for insulation.  

Comment by Dave Riley on October 12, 2019 at 10:22

As for herb gardening with milk crates:he's my own culinary line of milk crates growing herbs.

Comment by Dave Riley on October 11, 2019 at 18:38

Wicking beds? Hadn't considered that.

What would that hack entail?

As it is the cheapness and convenience of the crates makes the  appealing and very convenient.

Anything bigger is very hard to move -- and even a full crate with moist soil may require a hand trolley to shift.

I think we usually pay $2 per crate.At home here we use milk crates in so many ways. I've been collecting them for close to 20 years.

Instead of weed mat you could use hessian, coir or cloth of some sort, even old clothes. I used felt to make masks back in the day, and all natural fibre cloths can be packed together. But cotton doesn't last very long in the garden although  folded sheets may be worth experimenting with. I think liner plastic wouldn't allow the soil to breath and you'd lose the advantage of placing the crates together. Grow bags are bigger and more voluminous.

Over time, the soil becomes a bolus and holds itself together as an ecological entity and even if the weed mat frays or splits, there's no leakage of earth.

Some plants I've had colonise the crate next door to the one they were planted in.

Here's a great overview of the possibilities:

Garden Culture Magazine.

Comment by Dave Riley on October 11, 2019 at 18:09

Some tweaking. You can mulch the whole 'bed' despite the cubes that comprise it. Note that the cheek to jowl compactness makes the milk crate bed easy to water.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on October 11, 2019 at 16:31

You could probably pretty easily make them into wicking pots/beds as well.  

Comment by Dave Riley on October 10, 2019 at 16:09

Here are sample layout  patterns of milk crate.

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GrowVetiver

Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.


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