Category Archives: Growing Food

Small Space Gardening – go vertical!

It took me six months to get around to publishing this post, but I wanted to share the success I have had gardening now that I live in SoCal.

I have been a gardener for many years. In Seattle I gardened in both the community gardens of the P-Patch Program, and also on my own property,  patio, or deck.

Now that I am in Southern California I thought it would be so easy – no need to fight for heat or sun or the normal things that challenge a Pacific Northwest gardener. But SoCal brought its own challenges, aside from no community garden space and only a teeny tiny yard!

My sister shared on Facebook awhile back 70 pallet projects – a fine example of reuse/recycle/upcycle. There were coffee tables, chairs, sofas, patio furniture…and vertical gardens.

Plain pallet – was 8 feet long but we cut a foot off so it was not visible above the fence (we didn’t want to get in trouble from our landlord) for leaning something on the building)

First was finding a used pallet. My husband had started a new job for a company that has a warehouse and he found someone willing to haul home an 8-foot pallet for us because he commutes on a motorcycle! I am very grateful for that.

There were several designs. The best design in my opinion was required to stay flat on the ground for a number of weeks while the plant roots got established and the soil settled. My yard is so tiny this was not going to be feasible.  And I didn’t want dirt everywhere (we installed recycled artificial grass shortly after move in to cut down on dust tracking by the dog and bugs). So we kind of did our own thing combining other people’s ideas.

I also found some great metal pots at Ikea – it was at the very end of the spring season and there were only a few left and I bought all of them. This also helped me decide what color of paint to get to add some fun and also weather-proofing to my pallet.

Because I wasn’t able to buy enough hanging pots we used roof gutters to fill in the extra pallet space! I saw something online about strawberries being grown in gutters so thought this was an awesome idea.

When buying plant containers, if they do not have drainage holes in them you must drill them. So the pots and the gutters all needed drain holes.

Once your pots are ready, then it is time for plants. If you start with seeds it costs less money, but we wanted produce this season so we bought plants.

Then you get to play in the dirt…

And finally enjoy the fruits of your labor – literally! Yum!

Now I have a new round of  lettuce, kale, and other greens planted to enjoy during the winter months. And the hummingbirds are still here!

I love my vertical pallet garden!




Wow, check out this self-watering container garden made from a repurposed 55 gallon barrel

In Seattle we used old containers barrels like this for rain barrels. Mine were an orange/brown color and used to have olives in them. That was many years ago and two residences back.

Now that I am in Southern California, I have had to learn to garden a bit differently. I created a vertical pallet garden in my small yard (see ______) but I have to water it every day or risk plants drooping or drying up – not just from the heat but also from the wind. I live 3-4 miles from the coast and the ocean breeze is part of what makes Huntington Beach tolerable to a Seattleite. But the plants near the top of tha pallet have to be moved around and anything that is sensitive to moisture loss due to wind has to be below the top of the fence.

Treehugger posted this video today, and I was so impressed! I thought about container gardening before going vertical with the pallet and smaller pots, but I just don’t have a lot of ground space so didn’t want large pots. But there are some foods that need more room for roots (carrots being one of them). If I had a couple of these I could grow carrots and then also trellis up some peas or beans.

Yoohoo honey!!