Have you noticed that in most children’s stories, there’s always a garden? The enchanted garden, the secret garden, even Mr. McGregor’s garden in the children’s classic, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Creating a garden can be a lot of fun and a learning experience for your entire family.

A vegetable garden can be a great way to get started. A vegetable garden can be healthier, cuts down on pesticides and fertilizer, and reduces the plastic packaging used by grocery stores. Having vegetables on hand can save you time and money by cutting out those extra trips to the grocery store.

A flower garden is a great way to add color to your landscape. Flowers also provide pollen and nectar for bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. Flowering plants such as lavender and jasmine help to reduce stress. Look for ways to create your own garden. Reclaimed wood is a great way to create raised planters, borders, or signs. With the rainy season just around the corner, keep in mind that raised planters allow for better drainage and prevent soil from eroding in heavy rain.

For my first attempt at gardening, I decided to keep it simple by growing an herb garden. I already had two wooden pallets in my garage to upcycle. I knew this would be the perfect way to get started. Before getting started, I encourage you to visit some local farmers markets or nurseries. This is a great way to get inspired and ask the professionals any questions you may have. I recently visited Rooster’s located on Palm Beach Boulevard in Fort Myers. Rooster’s had a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and they were delicious! During my visit, I came across some goats who had their own idea on how to use pallets. The pallets were repurposed into an obstacle course where the goats could run, jump, and play. I was pleasantly surprised.

When using pallets, always make sure they did not hold harsh chemicals. Pallets are free and can be found at your local farmers market or retail stores. For my first pallet, I decided to create a farmer’s market theme. I painted the back of the pallet black and used a stencil and some white paint. Stencils can be found at your local craft store or online. I stapled some burlap to the bottom of each section. I then added some compost and potting soil and began planting my seeds. I attached the pallet to an exterior wall in a suitable location. My lanai is located right outside my kitchen, making it the perfect place for an herb garden. With easy access from the kitchen, I can easily pick the herbs and use them in recipes: cilantro for salsa and guacamole, oregano for potatoes and soups, English thyme for meats and stock, and stevia to sweeten my tea. It was a lot of fun adding a personal touch to my garden. I attached a hook to the pallet to hold my garden tools and apron.

Just for fun, I decided to upcycle the second pallet into a garden ornament. I wanted to add a little whimsy to a flower garden I already had in place at the front door. I used Rust-Oleum spray paint to give the pallet some color and added some vintage hardware to create the look of a garden gate. I added a flowering vine native to Southwest Florida, such as white morning glory, along the top. This gave the gate an enchanted look. I added a pair of wagon wheels my husband and I found on a trip to Deland, Florida, while walking along some railroad tracks. I placed one on each side of the gate. I added a hanging plant for some additional color and some flowering plants. I really love the way it came out.

When creating your garden, look for creative ways to make it unique and personal. Add something that tells a story that you can share with family and friends. Here’s another option for anyone living in an apartment or condominium where outdoor space is not an option. I picked up a vintage chair at the thrift store for $4.99. I rescued a small dresser that was headed for the curb and attached the two small drawers to the chair. I used mason jars to place my potting soil and seeds. You can also use vegetable cans you probably have in your pantry, or you can place the soil directly into the drawer using a liner. I gave it a European look by adding some writing to the chair. This was a unique way to add some whimsy to an inside space.





A resident of Southwest Florida, Renae has a passion for upcycling and bringing awareness to sustainable living. She has a passion for decorating and helping others and a lifetime of experience saving items from landfills by repurposing them into beautiful creations. She has been featured on local news channels delivering segments on sustainability and has held bootcamps on how to think outside of the box to live a more sustainable lifestyle, save money, and have fun. She has worked with Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida to become a “Goodwill Guru” and filmed a story about the Goodwill Guru Paris café, a means to encourage others to shop, donate, and change lives through the nonprofit retailer. Renae volunteers with the Annual Festival of Trees in downtown Fort Myers, at Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center and with the Florida Repertory Theater. Read previous article.