Want to grow your own fruit and vegetables but live in a flat and just don’t have the space on the balcony for boxes and planters? Simply cut aluminium rods, solder them together to create a structure for hanging pots – and lo and behold, you have an upright fruit and vegetable wall to be positioned on the sunniest of your balcony walls. See our step-by-step guide below.
– Dremel DSM20 Compact Saw with DSM840 cutting guide and the DSM510 Metal and Plastic Cut-Off Wheel
– Dremel 3000 with stainless steel wire brush 530, DremelSpeedClic mandrel SC402 and DremelSpeedClic metal cutting wheel SC456
– Dremel Versaflame
Other materials required :
– Aluminium welding rods
– Stainless steel abrading rod
– 4 x metal brackets, safety goggles
– 14 x 1 metre x 6 mm thick aluminium rods
– Plant pots
– Tomato, chilli pepper and strawberry plants
– Tape measure
– Paper and pencil, masking tape
Measure the space on your wall and draw up your design on a sheet of paper. Our design measured 137cm high x 51.4 cm wide.
Then, use your Dremel DSM20 compact saw and the DSM510 Metal and Plastic Cut-Off Wheel to cut six individual aluminium rods to 50cms, gripping them firmly into either the Dremel Project Table or a similar workstation.
These will become the hoops, each sized 16.5 cms in external diameter, to hold your plant pots.
Then, bend each length into an individual circle. Screw four metal brackets into your workbench to hold the size of hoop you want to weld. Weld together the two ends of the hoop using the Dremel Versaflame. In order to do this, first, clean up the faces using your Dremel 3000 with a stainless steel wire brush 530 to remove oxidization, dust etc.
Then, heat each of the two ends of the hoop to melting point using the Versaflame. Lay a bead of the welding rod onto each face of the hoop. When the end of the hoop is hot enough, the welding rod will melt onto the end of the hoop.
Then, while the bead of welding rod is still molten, abrade through the molten welding rod with a stainless steel abrading rod to break through the oxidation formed underneath the molten bead of weld rod. This ensures that the bead of welding rod merges with the aluminium. Close up the hoop, and clamp in position using a bar clamp or similar, then heat up until it reaches the welding rod’s melting point again and the two mating faces will fuse together. If necessary add more welding rod. There are some good tutorials on YouTube to help you do this.
Take a one metre length of aluminium rod to form one of your trellis’s vertical lines. Fix your first hoop at 6.5 cms, fix your second hoop at 50 cms, attach your third hoop at 93.5 cms. Repeat this process on another one metre length of aluminium rod.
Now, cut 3 x 50cms lengths of aluminium rod using your Dremel DSM20 and Metal and Plastic Cut-Off Wheel, as before. These will become the horizontal struts. Mark up where the vertical struts will go onto your horizontal struts at 12.5, 25 and 37.5cms. Also, mark up the vertical struts, which you have welded with hoops, at 0 cms, 44cms and 87.5 cms to intersect with the horizontal struts.Now weld the horizontal struts onto the vertical struts.
Then,take a 1 metre length of aluminium rod x 2 and using your Dremel Versaflame weld to either side to make the external side vertical struts. Take another 1 metre length of aluminium rod and bend it into an arch for the top of the structure. We used a dustbin lid to bend it around. Weld the ends to the external side vertical struts. Take a 1 metre length of aluminium rod, then cut a piece x 36.5 cms and weld together to create the centre upright and weld all intersecting points. Add two top upright 32.5 cms sections and weld. Finally, add 11 cms support struts – two per hoop x 6 hoops giving you 12 struts in total.
Once you have your structure, make a leaf on a twig and solder to the top of the arch. To do this, cut one x 80cm aluminium rod, bend it by hand in the middle into a V and then into shapes on the ends which mimic stalks, onto which you attach metal leaves. To make the leaves, mark up and cut out metal diamond-shaped leaf shapes from very thin sheet aluminium 1mm thick using your Dremel 3000, EZ SpeedClic mandrel SC402, metal cutting wheel SC456, then weld them onto the aluminium rod stalks using your Versaflame.
Either leave silver or spray paint black for contrast against the wall. Mount your metal structure onto the wall using either hooks or metal brackets. Plant up your glazed painted terracotta or plastic pots with strawberries, chilli peppers or tomatoes and herbs, for example, and place into the pot holders on the structure. You can even wind round some external fairy lights to help enjoy your balcony during the evenings.