DIY: Create A Garden with A Milk Crate

By Dianne Crary

A few weeks ago the gardeners on Randall’s Island took a field trip to the River Park Farm on 29th Street in Manhattan to see how they were growing vegetables in milk crates (Zach’s Lil-Acres blog).  We were all impressed with the creativity of using milk crates to grow produce.  We decided to try this technique in our Learning Garden.

Three different sizes of crates were found that would serve our purpose.  Following the instructions on the River Park Farm website, I made three different size templates of landscape fabric to hold the soil in the boxes.  I thought this would be a quick and easy job to make a cross shape template to the dimensions of the box.

However, there seemed to be gremlin lurking about and when one side fit well, the other edges were out of place.  Eventually, the templates were made.

Some suggestions are:
1) Do not try to make the templates outside when the wind is blowing.
2) Measure the outline when the landscape fabric is laid out on a flat surface.
3) Use a yardstick to mark straight lines.
4) Make the ends a bit longer so they can be folded under.

The next day the landscape fabric was cut using the templates as a guide. One suggestion is to mark the center of the cross.  This makes it easier to identify the crosses when cutting out the fabric.  I marked ours L, M & S to correspond to the crate size. Then the sides were stapled together and the ‘box’ turned inside out so that the staples would not show.

Using a sewing machine would probably be a faster method to join the sides together. The landscape fabric was placed in the box and the top edges turned down to a level just below the rim.

Hopefully, this double layer will give added strength when attaching it to the crate.  A knife cut a small hole into the landscape fabric and zip-ties secured it to the box.  Long zip-ties work very well because it allows you to weave it in and out of the slits in the box.  The box was then filled with soil and will be planted.

We will keep you posted as they boxes do as the season progresses.


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