Urban gardening in bread crates.

First. A confession. I don’t live anywhere near a city.

But we have a patch of gravel outside the house so that, for the time being, is my urban backyard.

My idea was to test if you could grow a “garden” in a pile of bread crates on a wooden pallet. Then use them during the winter for storage of Bokashi. Conclusion: works brilliantly.

I started in the winter (the original blog is here) and now that summer is just about done here there’s no doubt it works really well. Actually I’m quite excited because I think this could be a really nice way for people with real urban backyards to get a small garden going AND recycle more or less all their food waste on a patch of asphalt no bigger than one square metre.

This is the summer bit. (The winter bit involves storing cured Bokashi in bio-bags or plastic bags in the empty crates.)

First step, you’ll need a pallet and up to ten plastic crates. Not too deep or you’ll never be able to lift them. Get hold of some plastic potting mix bags and cut them to size. Poke in a few drainage holes. (In the original experiment I used newspaper for lining. Forget it, it gets too dry. Plastic is better.)

Then a first layer of potting mix, just the cheap stuff from the garden shop.

Empty a bucket of cured Bokashi and spread it around nicely.

Then top up the crate with soil.

Lift on the crate you’re going to plant in. This one I’d done a couple of weeks earlier. You can have up to five crates in a stack, makes a nice working height. (No snails! No weeds!)

If you plant in a couple of worms before you know it you’ll have a whole colony doing their bit for your garden!

Time to plant! Herbs, lettuce, whatever will do ok in the shallow soil. But it seems to me you can plant quite intensively as the soil is so good.


Ready! Just to let them grow and enjoy the results.

The good thing with growing in a stack like this is that run-off nutrients from the top crate will filter down through the others and not be wasted. In peak season you could spread out the trays and grown in all of them, or hand them out to friends and neighbours ready-planted.

When the season is over the soil will still be quite good in the trays, so empty them somewhere valuable and stack up the trays nice and neat ready to be used as winter storage. You may even want to lift the whole thing into the cellar to make life easier in the winter.