Wine Box Turned Balcony-Sized Raised Bed Garden

by Fern on April 15, 2011

in How To,Inspiration

Post image for Wine Box Turned Balcony-Sized Raised Bed Garden

My grandpa grew up in the Depression, during a time when you didn’t throw things out until you had absolutely gotten every single possible use out of a thing. That sort of mentality has never left my Grandpa. He saves everything. Yogurt containers and kleenex boxes line his workshop, organizing all of his nails, screws, twine, and extra wooden chopsticks (among other things). One of the things I found in his stash was a wooden wine box. Who knows where he got it, he sure doesn’t drink wine.

Well, where ever that wine box came from, it has now been converted into container for lettuce and parsley. Here’s what I did…

Prepare the Wine Box

First you have to drill holes in the bottom of the wine box, good drainage is important for container gardens. This is the kind of drill bit I used. It’s called a forstner bit and cuts perfectly round holes. You could use almost any kind of bit, or even use a regular screwdriver and large screw to make the holes.

I made a total of 8 holes and spaced them evenly around the bottom of the box so that it would drain properly.

After I drilled all the holes, I sealed the wood with an eco-friendly, low-VOC sealer from Earth Safe Finishes. Let the wine box completely cure (2-3 days) before planting.

I really like this company and their products. Earth Safe Finishes a mother-daughter owned business in California. If you want to support American green business, and need eco-friendly paints, stains, or varnishes, this is company is a great resource.

Start Planting!

Fill the box with soil to about an inch below the top of the wine box. Dig six holes and plant your favorite greens or herbs, anything with a shallow root system. I decided to take my friend Teresa’s suggestion for small-space greens and plant ‘Forellenschluss’ romaine lettuce (“speckled trout” lettuce in English). I interplanted with parsley so that I can make my own chimichurri.

Here it is all done! The project was very quick and easy. The actual work time was less than an hour. After I harvest these plants, I might plant it with Italian herbs and vegetables since the box is for chianti.

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel April 15, 2011 at 9:07 am

I love this idea! The wine crate gives the crate such a wonderful vintage look!

My parents are the same way — they grew up during the Korean War so they know what it’s like to have very little. They never want to throw out anything (including the small plastic Beneful dog food containers which they reuse to store items).

Btw, I love your Twitter profile – “Crazy cat lady by age 24″ had me chuckling. :) Nice to connect with you, Fern!


Rachel April 15, 2011 at 10:05 am

{I re-read my comment and the first line is supposed to say:}

I love this idea! The wine crate gives the garden such a wonderful vintage look!

Fern April 17, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Hey, I figure if I had four cats before I even had one human child, that qualifies. Luckily, my husband is a cat lover too, otherwise I might have to add old maid to my profile. ;-)

Tami April 15, 2011 at 9:58 am

This is… adorable.


Mary C. April 15, 2011 at 10:22 am

That is so cool! I never seem to come across any large wooden boxes like that :/ I did get some old wooden Coke loading trays that hold my supplies though :)


Fern April 17, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Mary–Check out Costco, I think that is where he got it. They just gave it to him to carry out his purchases.

Teresa April 15, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Fern: What an interesting post, and your grandfather sounds like my kind of guy. I’m delighted you’re trying ‘Forellenschluss’ lettuce. Let me know what you think!

Thanks a bunch for the shout out. Meanwhile, one wine box/container planter just got added to my to-do list. Best, Teresa


Nicole April 15, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I saw this somewhere else earlier and got the supplies to do it this year as well (will be doing herbs). I got 3 wine boxes by asking around at big liquor stores. Here near Vancouver, the government liquor stores give them away for a $5 donation to a charity they are supporting. The boxes are beautiful and perfect for planting!


Fern April 17, 2011 at 9:19 pm

That’s very clever of the liquor stores! Win-win.

Ali April 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm

What an awesome idea. I love how beautiful the wine box makes the garden look! You have such great ideas for “up-cycling” stuff!!


Shawna Coronado April 16, 2011 at 7:14 am

Fern – this is so cute! I love it!



Jes April 16, 2011 at 7:34 am

Thanks for posting this great little article. I need to stain my garden bench – thanks for the Earth Friendly link – it is perfect! :)


Roberta April 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Fern, you constantly top yourself with yet more cool ideas for the
container gardener! As always thanks for sharing :)


Kate/ Beyond the Brambles April 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm

I love all of your reused container projects. This one is very chic- wine and micro greens! But what a nice compact container! I will definitely look into the eco-friendly finishing.


Cecil April 16, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Sorry for the multiple comments! But just found your blog and I can’t stop reading – loving all your ideas! I have been collecting random containers for the past month – hoping to reuse it as container garden. And your blog just gives me confidence that I can do this.


deLadyBex April 16, 2011 at 10:32 pm

These clever ideas make me think of my family had when I was a child and back then it was being frugal , not “GREEN” as today’s jargon introduces it. Wine Barrels were not in vougeback then either just a useful way to grow in a small space, Agai using your head and whta is around to grow in is clever and smaer green and frugal


meemsnyc April 16, 2011 at 11:49 pm

I love this fantastic idea! My sister used to work at a liquor store in highschool. I remember her bringing home boxes like this to use for storage. I’ll have to be on the lookout for these!


Summer April 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I’m truly not a gardener, but would like to start. This sounds doable. How do you know when lettuce is ready to harvest? (they look ready to me…) Just a matter of time? Months? Or height?


Fern April 17, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Summer–If you saw them in person, you’d realize they are pretty small. You wait until they’re the size you’d buy at the supermarket and then you harvest them. With lettuces that do not form a tight ball, you can also harvest the outer leaves and leave the rest of the plant to product more leaves, and then harvest the entire plant when it has become full sized.

Nancy Burkhart April 18, 2011 at 3:34 pm

This marine varnish is the best….waterbased, low VOC, it does the job and gives green a great name. We are using it for our new wood living room floor too…multiple uses.


Fern April 18, 2011 at 4:22 pm

One thing I like is that I’ve noticed that the marine varnish has prevented discoloration or staining of the wine box by the wet soil.

Sherrie April 19, 2011 at 8:47 am

I did this a few years back – however I lined mine with plastic to prevent rotting the wood. Planted spinach, lettuce, etc. Brought it inside due to a freeze – my cats had a field day. Chewed everything down to the dirt and then laid in it.


Serena April 27, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Hahaha. That’s funny!

Belle April 20, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I just found your blog today and I am seriously inspired! I have a number of these wine boxes already, and never thought of using them as plant boxes! A couple of questions though. Do you varnish the entire box, inside and out? And do you have to buy the varnish online or do you know of any stores that sell it?


Fern April 23, 2011 at 1:06 am

Hi Belle! I varnished the box inside and out, and I only know of the online source. Poke around their website, maybe they share where you can buy their products.

Candy Suter April 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I love this! It has a great look. And it is so nice to make something out of nothing (kind of). I like the idea of Italian herbs after your lettuce is done.


Kate April 26, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Do you really think the sealant is a necessary step? Could you skip it?


Fern April 27, 2011 at 10:04 pm

You could skip it, but the box will degrade very quickly (within a season) if you do. Mine was made out of a very flimsy wood.

meagan May 9, 2011 at 9:26 am

Ohhh i have one of these! love it – and why not? makes a great little container for things to grow in!
Meagan, row house nest


LittleShoots August 18, 2011 at 3:07 am

Wow, that is a very cute and brilliant idea! It seems like it would also be a really nice gift to give to someone who is perhaps not “amazing” at gardening or doesn’t want to take the time to do one outside. I potted up a few for friends that wanted veggies but lived in apartments.. I may just try this!


Lisa @ Life in Green September 6, 2011 at 9:12 am

Love this idea. I have a big old shipping box that has some cool vintagey print on the outside, and have been totally thinking about turning it into a planter.


Winepine September 6, 2011 at 10:08 am

I love it too! The first picture is gorgeous. Banfi is a great wine, and a very highly detailed crate as well. I like how thourough you were in regards to drilling the holes and adding the eco-friendly sealer. Have you considered an eco-friendly varnish to weather-proof the crate? This is a great strategy to prevent moisture and the elements from breaking the crate down by being outside. Thank you for sharing!


Karyna October 6, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Looks great. I love this idea and I love that you can see the type/logo on the side…makes it all even nicer, and more rustic almost. Hmm, I may take this idea up very soon. :) )


Teri October 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I was really hoping this was going to be about wine-in-a-box wine boxes. I go through plenty of those.


Fern October 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm

LOL. Sorry Teri! Though you have given me an idea to investigate. Stay tuned!

Matti November 10, 2011 at 8:00 am

We’ve been collecting a small stack of them we want to give something similar a try. Love what you did. Hoping to tackle the project before the end if the month. Matti


Linsey @ LLH Designs May 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Just visiting you from Remodelista. I’m thrilled to find another wine box garderner/blogger! Fun! It’s been my most widely circulated blog post for sure! Hope your garden is growing beautifully this year!


TM May 13, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Hello .
I am curious …Why you need to use the Low Voc sealer for ? Thanks , TM.


Smith And Ratliff June 5, 2012 at 6:07 am

I love this idea and have been hunting for good containers for our itty-bitty fire escape. Considering we drink lots of wine and love using wine crates for other things, I can’t believe we hadn’t thought of this!


Marie June 7, 2012 at 10:19 am

Oh my!

Just came across your blog and I was about to put a wine box tonight in the garbage after keeping it for years for storage. Just moved and figured i didn’t need it anymore… Wow, I’ll definitely plant some herbs in it!!! Thanks for the idea!


Jill June 11, 2012 at 8:06 am

I, too, am setting up to plant in wine boxes this year. I have an enclosed porch, so must be careful to avoid water spillage.
Thanks for the tip on Earth Safe products! Can’t wait to plant in it.


Erik August 15, 2012 at 8:53 am

Hey, just came across this while doing some research for my fall veggy garden. I love this idea and happen to have 4 wine crates sitting around. My question is, do you have to seal the wooden crates? I was planning on planting seeds this saturday, 3 days away and have not sealed the wood. any ideas? thanks in advance!!



Britney February 5, 2013 at 8:37 pm

I love this! I hope that I can find some wine boxes.


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