Mod veggie boxes

See how to turn scrap metal into cool raised beds
Johanna Silver

Raised planters, made of recycled steel from a scrap-metal yard, give Sunset’s test garden a modern edge.

The four adjoining open-bottomed planters create deep beds of soil in a small space for beans, blueberries, eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini, plus they raise up the crops for easy harvest.

Metal pavers, interplanted with creeping thyme, create an access path; strawberries and bush beans flank the sides.

Rebar stakes, each 6 feet tall, support cucumbers, pole beans, and tomatoes behind the planters.

THE BOXES

Plates Four pieces of rusted steel with a diamond-plate pattern, cut to size at the metal yard, make up each of the four planter boxes. The tallest one measures 2½ feet high by 2½ feet wide by 2 feet deep.

Brackets Galvanized L-brackets, mounted with screws on each inside corner as shown, hold the boxes together. We drilled holes with a titanium oxide bit.

Time and cost The material for all four boxes cost $250, and two people spent two days shopping for and building the project.

THE SETUP

Site We built the vegetable patch in a sunny 7- by 10-foot space.

Layout Two rectangular and two square boxes form an L, with the tallest box in the corner. All are freestanding for easy rearrangement.

Path Five squares of steel form “steppingstones” that lead to the planters.

Next: our planting list

 

WHAT WE PLANTED IN THEM

Planter 1 (4 feet long by 2 feet wide by 1 ½ feet deep):

  • 1 ‘Apple’, ‘Golden Summer’, jalapeño, and 2 ‘Purple Beauty’ peppers
  • 1 ‘Little Fingers’ and 2 ‘Rosa Bianca’ eggplants
  • 12 ‘Tricolor Pole’ beans

 

Planter 2 (2 ½ feet long by 2 ½ feet wide by 2 feet deep):

  • 1 ‘Sunshine Blue’ blueberry
  • 2 each curly and Italian parsley
  • ‘Ikarus’ sunflower

 

Planter 3 (1 ½ feet long by 1 ½ feet wide by 1 ½ feet deep):

  • 1 ‘Cherokee Purple’ tomato
  • 2 plants each ‘Genovese’ and ‘Lemon’ basil

 

Planter 4 (3 feet long by 1 ½ feet wide by 1 foot deep):

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 ‘Lemon’ cucumber

 

In the ground:

  • ‘Tricolor Bush’ beans
  • Garlic chives
  • ‘Diamante’ strawberry
  • ‘Pink Chintz’ thyme (between pavers)
  • Strawflower (Chrysocephalum apiculatum)

More ideas for growing your own food: Sunset's One-block Feast