Three free/cheap planter options for frugal gardeners

Posted by & filed under gardening.

So it’s June, but guess what….it’s not too late to start a garden easily, cheaply and still get good yields. There are many crops that are perfect for planting right now, beans, beets, carrots, greens..and you can still get seedlings for those longer season crops like peppers and tomatoes. It’s not too late. I promise.

One of the excuses I get most often from wannabe gardeners is that they don’t want to commit to building a raised bed in a backyard they aren’t sure they are going have access to for long. They may have plans to move, or they are under the watch of a temperamental landlord so they just can’t see hauling yard after yard of soil just to have their project brought to a screeching halt by unforeseen circumstances. I get it. It’s a valid concern.


I have news for those folks. There is low-commitment way to create a garden cheaply and easily. Here are a couple of the ways we’ve been gardening at Design Plot. The idea is that the garden will constantly be changing…evolving…so we wanted elements that could be modular and made of reclaimed, free materials. These are some of the things we incorporated for the same reasons most people claim they cannot garden in the city.

The Jute/Rice Sack Planter

This is easily my new favorite way to plant vegetables. Double bag two jute sacks (double bagging helps to keep them in tact better as they decompose), roll down to 6-8 inches of depth, fill with potting mix. We sat these on top of pallets to keep them kind of organized and off of the ground where they will rot through faster. Rice sacks are great for a more long term planting solution. Hit up your favorite chinese take out joint for them!

Because these planters are porous, you don’t get root bound crops like you would in plastic containers.


photo (83).JPG

The Pallet Salad Bar

It’s important for this sort of garden that you get untreated pallets so that you avoid chemical leaching that could end up in your greens.

Just bust out some of the planks of wood and nail them to the open ends, cut landscaping fabric to size and staple to the underside of the pallet. Lie in place, fill with potting soil and plant with lettuce, mustards, arugula and spinach! Densely planted crops fare better since the soil can dry out pretty quickly.


The Tire Tomatoes

People like to talk a lot of trash about using tires, and I get it. You don’t really want to be eating a bunch of salads grown in decomposing industrial rubber that has god-knows-what looming in it’s pores.

But guess what. I live in Greenpoint, home of the 2nd largest underground oil spill in US history, people eat crappy food out of BPA laden cans and plastic bottles so I’m going to pick my battles and say that fruiting plants like peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and ornamentals can totally get planted in some tires with little fear of toxicity. Just avoid the greens. If you disagree, that’s fine…but these things are abundant, free and would otherwise end up in a landfill. I’ll take it!



Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>