Grow carrots on the top and succulents on the sides
When you have only a small growing space, you can make the most of it by using vertical planting systems. Some will go right up a wall but others are smaller and more compact.
Last year we built a new planter from scraps of pallet wood that gives not just one growing area, but five. The DIY Cube Planter lets you grow a crop on the top and succulents on up to four walls. This is now the end of the second growing year for my planter and it’s working a treat.
The Cube Planter is perfect for growing baby carrots
Carrots suffer from the very annoying Carrot Root Fly. These insects fly a couple of feet off the surface of the soil on the hunt for carrots. Once found, they’ll lay eggs on the roots and their maggots will burrow through your crop making them inedible.
One way to avoid these pests is by growing carrots above the level that the insects fly. I sowed an entire sachet of ‘Rainbow Carrot‘ seeds on the surface of this planter in spring. They’ve grown without too much fuss and are all perfect when pulled out. I also have to say that I love pulling each one and seeing which color it turns out to be.
The walls make a great home for succulents
Each of the four walls of the planter are made from mesh steel fencing. An inner layer of horticultural fleece keeps the compost in but allows moisture to drain out. By poking holes in the fleece with a knife or finger, you can push succulent cuttings inside. Over time they’ll grow roots and become happy little independent plants.
Right now, only the front wall of my planter has succulents but I plan on continuing them around to the two sides next year. The type is I believe called ‘Spathulifolium’ and it grows really well on the planter. When pieces of the plants fall down, I pick them up and tuck them into new holes. With luck these pieces grow roots and an new area of the wall starts to fill in.
To build the planter you’ll need
- four wooden posts – mine are 2″ x 2″
- four wooden blocks for the feet
- Seven slats for the bottom
- Two planks for the bottom slats to sit on
- Eight slats for the upper and lower frame.
- Eight vertical slats – to cover the posts and the stapled wire
- Heavy duty steel mesh or possibly chicken wire
- Horticultural fleece
- Fence paint (optional)
The construction is pretty simple and the end product will be 27.5(w) x 20(d) x 22(h)”. You begin by making the base using seven slats, four feet and two additional pieces of wood that run from foot to foot. It’s essentially a mini wood pallet.
From there, add the posts and the eight planks that will hold it all together at the top and bottom.
Staple wire that will fit the open areas on all four sides of the planter. You’ll staple them directly onto the four posts and you can either remove the planks to staple and then re-fasten them or just cut the wire and fit it inside. We removed them and replaced as we went along.
Notes: If you don’t put these planks on before you do this step then there’s a chance that your wire won’t be tightly fitted in the end. If you staple the wire onto the inside after all the wooden parts are assembled then it might not be as sturdy. By sandwiching it between the posts and another plank the walls will be more stable.
Eight more vertical planks fit over the wire and the posts – two for each side of the planter.
When you’re finished, you can paint it if you’d like. If you’re planning on planting edibles inside then stick with non-toxic paint.
Lastly, fit horticultural fleece inside the planter, place crocks at the bottom, and then fill it with compost. You’re ready to plant it up now.
Planting on the top is self-explanatory for those who have gardened before. The planter will need regular watering since more moisture will evaporate out through the side walls.
For the walls, cut small holes through the horticultural fleece. Push succulent cuttings through and wait for them to take.