There are times when a gardener needs more space. This is the situation I am in presently but what am I to do. Well, the answer is simple and it entails using an unused space, which is the vertical realm. Yes, I know you are thinking about hanging baskets and such. Yes, I have also done this but I want a little something different and this is where the garden pyramid comes into play.
To begin this process, one will need to gather a few tools and supplies. The tools you will need are as follows: compound miter saw and wood clamps. The supplies are listed below. Please note, you can use untreated wood instead of the cedar. The cedar is only listed due to its longevity.
1 4” x 4” x 6’ cedar post (This will be the center of the pyramid)
11 1” x 4” x 8’ cedar wood (This will be the sides of the pyramid)
1 3’ x 3’ piece of plywood (base)
1 2” x 2” x 8’ cedar wood (This will be the top)
4 wheels, optional
75 1 ½” decking screws
- Take the plywood base and find the center. This can be done by using a chalk line and measuring from one corner to the opposite corner. Repeat with the other corner. Where the lines cross is where the center is located.
- Secure the cedar post to this point with wood glue and a decking screw.
- To aid in securing this post, take four of the 1” x 4”x 8’s and cut them down to 6’. Place one on each corner and allow it to lean over onto the center post. Secure with wood glue and decking screws.
- Add more stability to the structure by laying down four braces that go from the post to the corners. To create these, take one of the 1” x 4” x 8’s and cut it into 4 pieces that are 1’ ½” long. Glue and screw together to secure.
- Using wood clamps, clamp everything together until dry.
- Optional, if you want your pyramid to be mobile add the casters at this point.
- Next, you will need to cut the slats of wood that will hold the soil and plant material. The sizes will differ slightly since each pyramid is slightly a different size. To begin this process, you will need to cut eight pieces of wood that are 3’ in length.
- Once this wood is cut, secure the first four along the bottom on the planter creating a box like structure. Secure with glue and screws. Add wood clamps and allow to dry.
- At this point, if you want to create good drainage add a layer of gravel.
- On top of the gravel layer, if added, place a layer of soil that reaches the top of the box made in step 8.
- Measure the remaining 10 levels and cut these pieces our of the 1” x 4” x 8’s.
- Angle the edges of these boards.
- Attach the next level with glue and screws. Allow to dry
- Add the next layer of soil and compact down.
- Repeat the steps 13 through 15 until all boards are complete.
- To finish off the pyramid, cut the piece listed as the top into four pieces that will make a square.
- Glue and screw together. While this is drying, place wood clamps on the square.
- Once dry, secure to the top with decking screws.
How to Plant your Garden Pyramid
While you can plant pretty much anything in this vertical planter, I am going to go over two of the easiest plants to grow in this type of structure and that is lettuce and strawberries.
The first thing you will need to do is to decide what type of strawberries you want to grow. There are three general types. These are day neutral, everbearing, and Junebearer. A day neutral strawberry is one that is not sensitive to the amount of sunlight. This variety produces buds, flowers, fruit and runner continuously as long as the temperature stays between 35 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Everbearing strawberries produce buds in the summer and fall. Junebearers are sensitive to the amount of sunlight that appears during the day. They bud in the fall, produce flowers and fruit in the spring and runners in the summer.
Once you have your strawberry variety selected, the next step in this process is to plant your strawberries. Strawberries come as bare rooted plants. These plants have roots and a crown. What is important is that you do not plant the strawberry too deep. While you want the roots completely covered, you do not want to bury the crown or have to twist the roots to get them into the hole. If the roots are longer than eight inches, take a knife to shorten.
Next, dig your first hole and place your plant inside. Once that is done, measure off 20 inches and place another plant in a hole.
Repeat until you have used up your strawberry plants.
To care for your plants, remove all buds, blooms, and flowers the first year. This will cause the plant to spend all its energy on root development. Keep the soil evenly moist and if need be add a layer of mulch to aid in moisture conservation.
After your strawberries are planted, the next step is to plant familiar companion planting of strawberries and that is lettuce. As in strawberries, there are several different types of lettuce. If you are looking for a variety that can be harvested year round, consider using a variety that is non-bolting. What this means is that as the weather warms, the lettuce will not form and send up a flower stalk. This simple biological process indicates the end of the lettuce growing cycle and in many situations turns the leaves of the lettuce bitter. But when you choose a non-bolting variety, you do not have to worry about that and can harvest lettuce until it is killed by a frost.
While you can purchase lettuce plants, I would recommend just using seed. Most lettuces will germinate in 5 to 7 days, which is minimal.
Once you have your seed selected, moisten the soil. Sprinkle the seed on the surface of the soil and add a slight layer of soil on top of the seed. What do I mean by a “slight layer?” Well, what I mean is less than a ¼ inch. This will hold the seed down and keep birds from finding the seed.
Now that you have your strawberries and lettuce planted, you will need to monitor the soil moisture and water as needed.