This is the sixth post in The Back Garden Project, one GOOD community member's effort to turn a neglected corner of the city into a thriving garden.
As I mentioned last time, one of the neatest and simplest little additions I've made to the garden so far has been the creation of a planting box out of what seems to be part of an old Ikea bookshelf that I found back there. Here's how to build your own, in five simple steps.
Step one: Find an old piece of Ikea furniture that someone has carelessly discarded in your back yard (see image at left). Something with three vertical sides and either a bottom or at least bottom support piece is preferable, but you don't need the fourth vertical side of the box.
Step two: Find a suitable place for your new three-sided box, such as up against a wall. Try to level the earth beneath it and position the box using rocks or other found objects make it stable (the more adventurous might even try garden stakes to hold it in place). You can discard any useless bits (the flimsy backing for example) so long as you still have the support.
Step three: Layer a bunch of wood chips (in my case dried-out knotweed chips) along the bottom of the box, a few inches high, creating a bit of a barrier with the existing topsoil while still allowing plenty of drainage (if your box had a solid bottom, you'd want to put a bunch of holes in it).
Step four: If you want a trellis of some sort for climbing plants (like the beans I was planning for this spot), find yourself a suitable artifact. I used what I'm guessing is the discarded metal grill from the derelict barbecue in the center of my plot. Then you could either lean it vertically up the wall from the bottom of the box (knowing the soil you'll fill it with would support it) or hang it from a convenient bit of random electrical wire (pictured).
Step five: Fill that sucker with good growin' dirt! If you weren't worried about the existing soil in the garden, you could just use that, but I used a combination of packaged organic garden soil and what I like to call my "heirloom dirt"—rich, well-cared-for soil from my previous garden.
Yum, right? Now you're ready to plant! My first additions were a pair of bean seedlings that had been nicely maturing in my window sill since early March. I plopped them in, gave them a little organic plant food, and tucked them in with some "mulch" (just leaves) pulled off the ground around me. (The image at the top also features a couple zucchini and yellow squash plants.)
Step six: Find some Scandinavian syllables, mix together, and name your new planter.