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Raised Garden Beds Made with Upcycled Pallets

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

What is upcycling? Using something for a better purpose than what it was originally designed for. It’s better than recycling, because as we are now sadly aware, recycling is really downcycling, which is to give the object one more or less ‘good’ use before it ends in a landfill or incinerator--I’ll let you be the judge of preschool trash “art”. Or plastic bags turned into decking material (which then disintegrates in the sun into tiny particles before looking awful and ending in, you guessed it, landfills.)

So. Pallets. Those ubiquitous woody things that are used to transport everything bulk, everywhere around the world? We’ve now seen them in many über-cool uses, from coffee tables to bike racks. If you can get your hands on good ones and your ambitions as a food-grower are, ahem, growing, why not try your hand at upcycling them into your very own raised gardening beds?

Before you start doing anything with your pallet, make sure it is safe:

  1. Check the IPCC symbol. The International Plant Protection Convention requires all pallets to be stamped with information about how the pallet was treated. If it says MB, it’s Methyl Bromide, a chemical pesticide linked to health risks, RUN. If it says HT then, phew, it’s heat treated, and *probably* ok to use, but read on

  2. Do you know your pallet’s story? What was it used for? What kind of conditions was it kept in? Was it used to ship food or chemicals? Did it hang out on unsanitary docks (that one is most likely). The porous wood of pallets can easily harbor contaminants such as E-Coli or Listeria. If you’re not sure, just don’t use it to grow food.