Go Sky High With Your Garden


6 Easy Steps to Your Own Pallet Garden

Vertical gardening has become more and more popular every year.  One of my favorite types of vertical gardens are made from recycled pallets!  I have created pallet gardens for both edibles and ornamentals, and have also offered workshops to make your own for many years.  With the urban and suburban sprawl in the DC Metropolitan area, where I live, many people don’t have the space for a traditional garden – or maybe you just want to do something DIFFERENT…so instead of growing out, lets grow UP!

Supplies needed:

  • Empty, clean pallet with all boards intact (Check out http://www.1001pallets.com/pallet-safety/ for info on pallet safety with edibles)
  • Landscaping fabric
  • Staple gun
  • ProMix potting medium
  • Organic fertilizer blend  – Plant Tone, Green Sand, Rock Phosphate, Garden Gypsum
  • PLANTS!

Step 1: Lining your pallet

This can be a one man (or woman!) job but it’s much easier if you have a buddy.  Here you’ll want to line the pallet all the way around with the landscaping fabric (except the front, where we’ll be planting our plants).  I always try to do it with one large piece instead of cutting it up and lining each side separately.  You want to make sure it’s tight, as this is what’s holding the soil in.  The top of the pallet I typically line separately since we’ll be removing that portion at a later date when we stand the pallet up.

Step 2: Adding Potting Medium

Next we want to fill the fully lined pallet with potting medium.  I usually use ProMix Organic Herb & Veggie as it’s a lighter soil…and organic!  Lay your pallet down flat and start scooping!  Be sure to fill in, leaving ruts between each slat (where our plants will go).  I try to pack the bottom pretty tight – don’t forget this will be standing up so stuff can shift a little.  You don’t want to leave room for much movement.  The top doesn’t have to be packed as tight since we’ll be planting there later on.

Step 3:  Don’t forget to fertilize!

I like to use a blend of 4 fertilizers – and I use this blend in ALL my container gardens, so this is a cocktail to always keep in mind when potting…and it’s organic!  My very unscientific method is to take a small scooper and spread a thin layer of each of these products down each row where we will be planting.  When you’re done, rake your hand over each row to slightly blend.

Step 4:  Planting

Now for the real fun to begin!  Get your creative juices flowing – choose your plants and how they will fit in.  I often choose to do an all edibles and then a separate one for color, but feel free to mix it up.  The options are endless!  If you choose to do edibles, I recommend to use herbs and/or cool season leafy veggies, i.e. lettuce, spinach, violas, etc which you can grow two seasons per year – spring and fall.  Summer veggies (tomatoes, squash, eggplant, etc) just grow too large for the pallet.

Once I pick out my plants I line them up in my pallet before planting.  This way I can play around and switch things around if I want to.  So now I’m ready to plant!  It’s as simple as popping them out of the pot and inserting them into the pallet where you want.  Don’t forget to break up your roots like you would if you were planting a container garden or into the ground.

Step 5:  The Backfill

Now that we have all or our plants in the pallet where we want, we’re ready to fill in the gaps with more ProMix.  Fill in and push down tight, just like in a container garden.

Step 6:  Water and Wait

Okay, we’re all done planting so just water these guys in and set for about 10-14 days for plants to grow in a bit.  The root growth is what’s going to help keep these guys in place once we stand the pallet up so water regularly.  Once the pallet is ready to stand up we can remove the landscape fabric in the top and plant something fabulous there!  Tada!!!  Your vertical pallet garden is complete!  Have fun harvesting lots of goodies or simply admiring its beauty throughout the season!

Pro tip:  When watering while vertical I use a watering wand.  The water spray is gentle and thorough.  Be sure to water the top and some will drain down, but also water the body of the pallet as well.

Have fun and please share your own pallet gardening experience with me! Whether you’ve done it before, or starting now, I want to hear about it!

If you have any questions about any of these steps, please ask me for more info/photos. I have more to share!

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October Tomatillos & my Salsa Verde Recipe

So, as you may know, I grow my veggies in my front yard every year due to lack of sunshine in my back yard.  This year though, I had even less veggie space in my suburban front yard since I planted some perennials that needed a home in half the area I usually do my veggies.  With that being said, I skipped the tomatillos this year because of such limited space…until those volunteers popped up out of nowhere and I didn’t have the heart to yank them out of my new perennial garden (even though it looked absolutely ridiculous and completely blocked the beautiful flagstone front walk way that someone pretty awesome built for me).

Since my lovely volunteers showed up a bit late in the season, I got a late harvest, which was totally fine with me!  I finally picked the last of my tomatillos last weekend and decided it was time to get these guys out of here…along with my now ratty looking tomatoes lined up in front of my boxwoods.  I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the jalapenos or banana peppers quite yet however.  This is the latest I have kept my summer veggies going, by the way.  I usually pull them in the end of September right before we go on vacation.  I am certain that the mail man and the US delivery person were pleasantly surprised about this decision now that they can reach my front door without having to navigate through this obstacle course!

So what did I do with my newfound tomatillo harvest?  I made my favorite Salsa Verde of course!  Check out my “unofficial” recipe below!

Stephie’s Salsa Verde

  • Tomatillos husked and cut in half – enough to fit on a regular size baking pan (20ish)
  •  1 small onion
  • 1-2 Jalapenos (depending on how spicy you like)
  • 1 clove garlic or a couple small spoons of already minced garlic
  • Sprinkle of salt (approx 1/2 tsp)
  • Sprinkle of sugar (approx 1/2 tsp)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • Cilantro if you like – I’m not a big fan so I usually leave it out

1. Husk and wash your tomatillos.

2. Line your baking pan with foil.  Cut each tomatillo in half and lay flat side down.

3. Pop in the oven.  You can either broil or just 350 in the regular oven until browned on top.  Sometimes I throw a jap or 2 in the oven with the tomatillos as as well just for fun!

4. Throw all the ingredients in the food processor and blend.

5. Let sit over night in the fridge so flavors can mingle.  ENJOY!

So how did yours turn out?  Please share your experiences or recipe twists!

Spring is here…or is it?

Wow!  What a spring…or late winter!?  Just when I thought I’d seen it all, this spring has surprised me again!  So unpredictable, this Northern Virginia weather.

I’m curious, with all of this late snow this year and consistently low temperatures, did you do an early spring garden this year?  Of course I couldn’t resist!  I absolutely LOVE cool season annuals.  Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re gonna say – cool season annuals don’t last very long…BUT they pack a huge punch for an early pop of spring color!  And what else are you gonna do to put out some spring color and get your hands dirty after a long winter?!

I didn’t go crazy this year but I did do up some pots for my new front stoop (thanks to a certain talented handy man I know, we now have a beautiful new front stoop and walkway!!).  While I potted my pots way back in mid-March, and at times had to scoot them into the garage because it was just too stinkin’ cold, my house has been the most colorful one on the block!  My veggie garden (below) on the other hand got planted a few weeks later.

Thanks to all the late weather we couldn’t finish the front walk as early as we wanted to.  And in case you missed my “Front Yard Veggie Gardening” post from last summer…I do my veggie gardening in the front yard right next to my front walk!  I have to – my back yard is too shady for that stuff.  So we were a little later than I wanted to get those veggies in but we’ll see how it goes!


Does anyone else have a favorite lettuce? Mine is this cool & tasty heirloom called Flashy Trout Back. They had me at flashy!

Here are just SOME of my favorite spring bloomers:


A beautiful bright orange Ranunculus.


I seriously can’t get enough of these gorgeous colors!


I absolutely ADORE Anemone!!! Especially the doubles!


Senetti, or Pericallis, has lovely daisy-like blooms.


Stock is a great one to add some height to a container or the garden…and it smells sooooo good! This one is called ‘Hot Cakes Mix’.

Here’s what I put together for the front porch this year:


Yellow Ranunculus (the most gorgeous I’ve seen – my grower did such a great job, he
truly knocked my socks off with these!), Stock ‘Hot Cakes Mix’ (fragrant), Nemesia ‘Angelart Raspberry’,
Alyssum ‘Clear Crystal White’ (fragrant)


This is what I call my “Antique Pot” this year. It includes Pansy ‘Imperial Antique Shades’,
Antique Ranunculus, Erysimum ‘Poem Lavender’, Nemesia ‘Angelart Almond’


A shot of the group. In the small square pot is Hellebore ‘Penny’s Pink’,
Erysimum canaries, Dianthus sunflor ‘Olivia’, Viola ‘Angel Tiger Eye’,
Alyssum ‘Clear Crystal White’ (fragrant)


Orange Ranunculus, Ranunculus ‘Bloomingdale Mix’,
Primrose ‘Hethor Giant Yellow’ (fragrant), Primrose ‘Hethor Giant Orange’ (fragrant),
Senetti, Pansy (variety unknown)


Anemone ‘Pandora’ Double Fuchsia, Anemone ‘Galilee Mix’,
Snapdragon ‘Snapshot Yellow’, Alyssum ‘Clear Crystal White’ (fragrant)




Tell me how you celebrated the arrival of spring. Please feel free to leave comment here or share a pic on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Petalpushin or on Instagram and tag me @Petalpushin. Looking forward to checking out your spring color creations!!!

Yes, I grow vegetables in my front yard.

Who says your vegetable garden HAS to be in the back yard?  I grow mine in the front!  Not because I thought my neighbors and HOA would appreciate that, but because my front yard is the only place I get full sun (except for a bit on my back deck).  So I decided to bite the bullet and go with it.  In previous years I’ve grown my veggies in the front of my house in containers – just in case any neighbors got up in arms about my seemingly unconventional growing practices, I could easily move them to…well, I don’t know where, but somewhere.

No one ever complained, so this year I took it a step further and planted them all in the ground.  We went crazy with tomatoes.  My boyfriend/labor force had the bright idea to line them in front of the Boxwoods that run across the front of the house (by the way, I live in a severely suburban neighborhood, it reminds us of that movie The Burbs at times which is a little strange).  I wasn’t crazy about this idea at first but I gave in and we did it.  I thought for sure that this time we would hear some neighborly complaints.  Not only did we not get any complaints, but we actually got complements!  I couldn’t believe it.  The couple across the cul-de-sac even came by one afternoon while we were playing in the dirt and took a brief tour of our front yard…I promised her some heirloom tomatoes as soon as they’re ready.  Lord knows we’ll have enough to share!  We also have a selection of peppers (some are heirloom as well), along with tomatillos, squash, cucumber and eggplant…all of which are also growing in the front yard but in a slightly less conspicuous spot.  I won’t go into too much detail about those at this time, they’re looking a little ratty at the moment (except for the peppers) due to some crazy spring weather.

Check out these photos of what the garden is doing right now.  Hopefully in the next couple days I’ll have some actual tomato cages (I know a really cool guy who said he’d make me some) for these puppies instead of using these flimsy bamboo stakes.  The tomatoes really took off while we were on vacation with all this rain we’ve been getting so some have taken over the stakes already.  I’ll post more later in the season when other varieties are producing.  Looking forward to some funky fruits with all these heirlooms!