Emma Squared Designs

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cardboard Garden

The other day I was sitting in my apartment wanting to have a garden of my own. See I am on the garden committee at work where we grow vegetables to donate to a local charity called UMOM (they are family shelter) and it got me to thinking about growing my own veggies. I don't have much room for a garden but I have heard of people making "patio gardens" and I thought to myself "Why not?!"
Though I don't have much space I figured I could use what I already have in my possession to make a garden work. I looked over to my right where I have stack of empty boxes (don't ask why) and began to wonder if it was possible to turn an empty box filled with soil into a garden. I searched online to see if there was any reason NOT to use a box to grow a garden and found this website. It gave some good suggestions and tips regarding cardboard box usage in gardens and I am glad I found this website because I used it to inspire me to make this:
How is this a "cardboard garden"? You ask. Well, it is and it was so much fun to make! The wooden box is lined with cardboard and I used two boxes to plant some of the plants I bought that wouldn't fit into the raised garden bed. Here is what they look like: 
The box on the top is Bush Beans (which are in the legume family and not allowed on Paleo…guess I wasn't thinking clearly when I bought them) and the box on the bottom has two zucchini plants. 
When I was at the nursery, I bought what I thought was cucumbers and zucchinis but turns out I bought 7 zucchini plants!!!! Assuming they produce vegetables, I will be swimming in zucchini by the end of summer!

Now onto the process for making the Cardboard Garden raised bed. 
About seven or eight years ago, while I was living in a different apartment, I went to a local craft store and saw that they had wooden shelves for sale. For years I lugged them around to all my different apartments and used them for craft supply storage but when I moved to my current shoe box (a.k.a. apartment), I had no room for them inside so I put them outside and used it as a holder of junk where they became weathered by rain and plenty of sunshine. When I decided to make the cardboard garden, I looked around for a way to elevate the garden so it wouldn't be on the ground and possibly subjected to Frankie's "business" of lifting his leg or other dog activities. When I looked at my shelves I started to formulate an idea that I think my dad would be very proud of: use what I already have! Talk about reduce, reuse, recycle! All I needed to buy was screws and metal brackets to make my dream a reality. (Sadly, I didn't take pictures at every step of the process but I think you can figure out how the elevated bed came to be.)
Here are some pictures to show the process: 
Step 1: Remove the junk from the shelves: 
Step 2: Cut each leg just above the bottom shelf to make 2 "stands": 
These two "stands" used to be the top of the shelves; they stand about 18 inches tall.
These two "stands" used to be the bottom of the shelves; they stand about 14 1/2 inches tall. 
Step 2: Attach the taller stands together with metal brackets (No picture, sorry)
Step 4: Cut the legs of one of the shorter stands down by 5 1/2 inches and then attach the legs end to end with metal brackets to make a cage. (No picture, sorry again)
Step 5: Place the stand cage on the 18 inch tall stands and attach with metal brackets. (There is a lot of metal holding these rickety shelves together and one day I think the only thing that will be left are those metal pieces!)
If you notice the metal plates on the side of each leg, that is what I did in step 4. 
Step 6: Place where it will live and line with cardboard (hence Cardboard garden):
According to the website where I read about cardboard gardens, it said that cardboard is a great material to use for gardens because it will allow the water to drain out of the soil and provide a breathable environment for the roots of the plants. 
Step 7: Fill with soil (I bought 2 large bags of organic soil from the nursery around the corner):
Step 8: Wet the soil to prepare it for the plants and then place the plants in the desired locations: 

There you have it…my cardboard garden. 
What I have planted in this box is Black Beauty Zucchini, Basil, Spaghetti Squash, and Dark Green Zuchinni. (yes, I am insane for having so much zucchini and I will be taking some to work but what can I say? I love zucchini!)
I will be making signs for each of my plants so I will remember what the heck I planted!
Two more things: 
1) There was blood shed (and plenty of sweat) in the production of this box…I thank the stupid palm tree for this unprovoked attack on my innocent pinky: 

2)I can't end this post without mentioning dear Frankie boy who has a very nice shaded hiding spot: 
Oh and that green plan off the right of Frankie? That is the first addition to my garden, the plant that started it all: "Early Girl" Tomatoes! 
Thanks for stopping by, 
Emma #1


  1. Such a nifty idea! Thank you for posting such a creative growing method. Frankie sure looks content in the shade you created!

    1. the shade was there before but with less head room. Before I cut my shelf apart, the bottom shelf was just 14 inches off the ground so when Frankie would hide under the shelf, it was not as roomy. Now that the raised garden bed is 18 inches off the ground Frankie has more space. He definately like it...but I wonder what he will do when the water seeps through the cardboard and drips all over his spot!