Sunday, May 10, 2015

Wine Crate Container Garden - DIY up-cycle

Earlier this week I was giving a presentation on container gardening with a focus on Herbs. When I give garden workshops I like to have something live to use as demonstration so I decided to up cycle a wine crate into a container garden. 

Wine Crate Herb Container Garden - DIY
There are a number of how-to websites that simply treat - drill holes - plant. This didn't seem to be quite sufficient for a container that I hoped would last all summer outside. I keep in mind that wine crates are designed for one time use; they are not the best wood out there and are usually not constructed very well. Therefore, I decided to do a few things differently than others propose. My technique includes:

  1. Treat the wood with a deep penetrating water repellent
  2. Create drainage
  3. Provide for water proof protection on the interior of the container
  4. Reinforce the construction
  5. Enable labeling the container on the outside
The gentleman that won the garden in my "name-that-herb" contest was happy - but immediately told me that he was going to replant them in his own containers. :( Boo. Well I asked him to send me photos if he changed his mind.

Please read below for photos and details on how you can make your own.

Chalk Panel:

I like the idea of being able to write on the side of the wine crate. Maybe label the herbs, maybe write a greeting or quote. So I decided on chalk paint as just the thing. I blocked it off with duct tape and just put a large square on one side. 
Chalk panel painted on one side, Teak Oil
water proof treatment for Up-cycled wood Wine Crates

Wood Treatment:

I happened to have teak oil available from treating lawn furniture. I applied a coat of oil to both the interior and exterior of the crate. After a day I applied a second coat. At this point (in retrospect) I should have also taken a moment to glue all the joints. I'll do that next time. 

Creating Drainage: 

Drainage Holes and Joint Reinforcement
DIY Wine Crate Container Garden
Power tools to the rescue! I used the attachment for door knobs to create two large holes in the bottom of the wine crate for water drainage. 

Reinforcing Joints:

Grabbed 8 small l brackets and put one on each side including the bottom. Take care to get the brackets long enough so that they do not split the wood when you screw them in. Also I had to dig deep in the hardware section to find just the right screws that had heads big enough to hold the bracket but were not so long as to be intrusive in the interior. 

Water Proof Interior:

Container gardens already need lots of water from evaporation. The wood of the crate is highly porous and wouldn't offer much resistance to the water and would most likely deteriorate from water as well. While the wood treatment (above) will help, I decided to add a layer of plastic to the interior. I used a 30 gal black garbage bag and staple gun. I tacked it down around the rim on the inside and then pulled it through both holes in the bottom of the crate. I smoothed it out, tacked it down on the outside around the hole as well. 

I added a second garbage bag (white one) around one half of the inside and also pulled this through the hole in the bottom and tacked down on the outside. I used a small piece of window wire mesh as a grate to hold in dirt and fasten down the plastic on the outside. 

The use of two plastic bags on the inside provides for two distinct zones - enabling different types of potting mix and watering regimen. 
Plastic lining for interior of wood wine crate container garden

Drainage hole with screen on
bottom of wine crate container garden

Fill and Plant:

On one side of the container I placed potting soil mixed with additional peat moss. On the other side I used additional vermiculite and perlite. This created a side more prone to be moist and one that may be drier. One the dry side I planted Sage and rosemary. On the other I planted mint (which I started from cuttings), basil, lemon thyme and chives. Around the edge I placed on trailing petunia (one does want a hint of color) and some sedum. Deep in the bottom I placed two cloves of garlic. 

Wine crate herb container garden - DIY

Wine crate as container for herb garden - DIY

Super cute. I think this may be my go-to hostess gift for summer parties!

Have fun!

Teresa Marie

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