We offer our garden members many services–including free materials and supplies for members to grow their own food. One of the main ways we support garden members is by building and providing each member household with two raised planter box beds.
On this page, you can find information on how you can build your own planter box and other planter options. Building a planter box can help you get your garden started quickly with great soil and fewer weeds. It may reduce risks of contaminated soil, and can help people of different ages and abilities use the garden. A trellis can allow you to grow vertically to increase the amount of food you can grow in a small space.
Click the image to access the PDF packet outlining step-by-step instructions on how to build your own planter box and follow along with the video!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I purchase pre-cut wood from a hardware store instead of cutting it myself?
Yes! However, it is important to note that it is more expensive to purchase pre-cut lumber.
What should be the condition of the ground that the planter box is built on? Can it be built on cement?
Garden boxes are versatile, so you can build it on any surface. When building on soil, test the soil for heavy metal contamination because this can affect the health of your garden.
Can I purchase planter boxes from City Slicker Farms or any other places?
Unfortunately during this time, we do not offer planter boxes for purchase. Our supplies and bandwidth is centered on our garden members. However there are many places–such as your local home improvement store– where you can purchase raised garden beds from. Also consider unconventional items to start your garden, like half wine barrels, metal feed troughs, or repurposed items (old bathtubs, old toilets, old dressers, etc.) Make sure you add drainage to your repurposed items so that you can have a healthy, happy garden.
I’ve used cardboard as the first layer in my raised bed beneath the added soil but above the ground. Do you recommend that or something else?
This method is definitely something accessible, affordable and effective, however it does not prevent your garden from being infiltrated by weeds and thus not a good long-term barrier because the cardboard starts to break down in about a year or two.
How should I organize plants within the planter?
It depends on the size of the seed/seedling you are planting. But a good rule of thumb is planting 2x the diameter of the seed.
How can I learn about specific plants and when to grow them?
Yes, because plants are seasonal it is important to understand when is the perfect time to start planting specific plants. We’ve constructed a plant facts list that our garden members, who all have planter boxes, use and plant in their planter boxes.We also suggest the book, Golden Gate Gardening by Pam Pierce. This book covers gardening principles and practices specific to the Northern California region. It is full of information on how to grow both common vegetables and herbs and unusual ones that bring variety to the garden.The Ecology Center in Berkeley has a wonderful resource that we recommend folks to consult as well.
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What is an option for starting plants if you do not have a greenhouse?
Most folks do not have greenhouses, and some plants don’t need to be placed in a warmer environment first. It depends on the type of plant and what type of weather/season it thrives in. One alternative for a greenhouse to consider is placing your newly planted seed in a warm place, like a window sill. You can also create a glass container that will act as a miniature greenhouse where you can place your newly planted seeds under to keep them warm and well hydrated. Another great option is purchasing seedling heat mats where you can easily control temperature as your seeds begin to take root.
What is mulch?
Mulch is a protective covering spread or left on the ground to reduce evaporation, maintain even soil temperature, prevent erosion, control weeds, enrich the soil, or keep fruit (such as strawberries) clean.
What is the best mulch to use? Especially considering small seeds like the mustard seed?
Mustard seeds can be planted directly into your garden, however we suggest that you wait until your plants start to grow before adding mulch. There are many things that you can use for mulch, including grass clippings, leaves, hay, straw, kitchen scraps, shredded bark, sawdust, wood chips, shredded newspaper, cardboard, wool and other organic materials.
Do you have any watering & timing tips for new gardeners to consider?
Watering & timing of watering depends heavily on the type of plants you are growing, where you are and your ecosystem. In greenhouses, your seedlings need to stay wet, so –again depending on your climate and ecosystem that you are growing in– watering at least once a day is a good start. It’s also important to make sure your planter has proper drainage for the health of your garden. In order to prevent fungal infections, water the soil and not the plant itself.
Can you recommend some good soil amendments?
We recommend amending your soil with compost, which will help provide nutrients to the plants and improve soil structure. If you would like to apply additional fertilizer, fish emulsion (which is a byproduct of the fishing industry) can be a good (but stinky!) one. Alternately, well-diluted urine is a free and effective DIY fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. We recommend this for a home garden (we don’t use it at City Slicker Farms’ urban farm).
If you suspect you have a specific nutrient deficiency, you can take soil samples for a soil test and once you receive the results amend the soil as indicated (such as adding crushed oyster shells for a calcium deficiency.)
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