Used wooden pallets as a potato growing bin – 2010

Editors Note: This should have been posted months ago. Sorry for the delay, but this should hopefully answer a bunch of questions about the pallet set-up from other pics posted on miia.

When I was in Michigan a few months back for a little bit of R & R. In the backyard of my buddy’s house, he had converted a bunch of old pallets into three side-by-side composting bins. So after a few beers and some meat smoking, it got me to thinking about the large pile of pallets just sitting at the end of driveway that I never bothered to dispose of (it was more like I felt bad throwing away good wood, so that’s why the pallets were really piled up.) In that instead of using the pallets for a compost bin, that maybe I could grow potatoes in them instead.

So here’s the plan. After doing a bit of counting and calculating of the materials that I already had on hand, I ended up with only enough pallets to make two open sided bins, with one pallet left over. For some reason the pallets I had on hand were not all the same size (which I didn’t realize until later), but more or less they measured around 40″ x 48″. I ended up orientating the pallets so that the enclosure was 40” high, since I really don’t need the bins very high for growing potatoes.

After giving my yard a quick scan to pick out a location for this experiment, I ended up only moving the pallet pile to the other side of the fence for two reasons. 1) That spot in my driveway is the sunniest in the whole yard, due to its orientation (on the south side of the house running east to west), and there are also fewer trees to the west to block out the sun. & 2) Nothing was growing in that location to begin with other then weeds and rocks, so I might as well do something productive with it. I really didn’t do too much to prep the area other then take my propane weed burner and burn out everything in about a 4’ x 8’ area, making sure to give it a good watering afterwards to put out any hidden embers.

So with all the prep work done, on to the soil mix to fill up the bins. The mix I used for the potato bin was more or less 50% compost and 50% peat moss mixed up in a wheelbarrow. I also mixed in a handful of pelletized 10-10-10 fertilizer, as well as about 5 to 8 fluid ounces of limestone (to counteract the acidity of the peat moss.)

When I was talking to my farmer neighbor about the potato bins that I was setting up, he ended up giving me a whole plastic bag of red fingerling seed potatoes to test out in the bin, which is in addition to all the Burbank seed potatoes that I already had sitting in the house.

So we’ll see if anything pans out of this potato bin. But for this season I’m only going to plant one of the bins with potatoes. Since a single bin ended up being a lot bigger then I realized, and in the other bin I’ll just use it for composting my grass clippings this year. But just in case the potato experiment fails, I sowed in a large handful of Navarino carrot seeds from Johnny’s with the potatoes, so if I don’t end up harvesting any potatoes, at least I might be able to get some carrots out of the bin. We’ll see in the months ahead what develops.

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