Monday, April 14, 2014

Starting a New Garden


This is the listing photo of our back yard at our new house. The grass pictured here is sorta green, but since it is Bermuda Grass, today it is still pretty brown and dormant even tho my neighbor's bluegrass is lush and green. Grrrrr. I think grass is a waste of time and space. Give me mulch anyday.
But I digress.
Under this sod is complete clay, mixed with rock and building debris. Ask me how I know.
Anyway, I want to create a new garden here, quickly and efficiently with minimum cost. And I don't want to dig.
With those parameters in mind, I did some foto research on Pinterest and came up with this solution.
It's a cattle watering tank. No digging, no building, minimal bending over, and it's an instant flower pot. But it isn't pretty. So at first I thought we would attach some white plastic trellis to the sides, but no.
And then I saw this photo:
which made me feel better, so I shared this idea with Dave and he liked it and thought about painting them, since he is such a fiend fan of paint.
With a bit more investigating I found this example:
 and this:

and felt that this was the way to go for our new garden. Luckily we have a fenced yard, so this wacko idea won't impact the orderliness of our neighborhood.
We found these cattle troughs in several sizes at our local Tractor Supply store, and counted up the cost and thought about it over a few days. It ends up being both expensive and economical and less back breaking than other ideas I have imagined. I am thinking of getting the 8 foot long by 32" wide by 24" high version, and hope to raise them on concrete blocks to another 8-10", as seen in this last photo. I want four to start. The only issue is how to get them home. The store doesn't deliver, and we don't have our trailer anymore, or the trailer hitch, so I am leaving that problem to Dave to solve. He promises it is no biggie.
Then we hope to have soil/mulch delivered and in a hurry, since it is already so warm and soon it will be HOT. I don't like the idea of working in the hot weather.
And the rest of my plan? We have no trees yet for shade, so trees will be included in these tank-gardens.
Just for the record, I did bring a few hosta from the old house, which were in pots, and dug up one or two other plants that had to come too. No one will notice since there are so many of the same already in bloom there. I filled in the holes. Really.
But wait, that's not all.
We already miss having fish, so when we saw this tank at Tractor Supply, we knew we had to add this to the yard. Insta-pond! Dave will be in charge of this, he promises. I'll do the plants and get the fish and he says he'll keep it clean. We know about this treatment:

So knowing that this day would come where I am garden obsessed, I have contacted the next person on my Make Me a Quilt list and she is amenable to waiting a bit while I get this garden started. In the meantime during the winter, I made a couple of bonus quilts which I will post here, in the coming days.


  1. Can't wait to see how you transform that plain/ugly yard into something beautiful and tranquil. When you are done, will you please come to my house? :)

  2. Wow! You just got my undivided attention! I need raised planters to ward off the prairie dogs, and these look very tempting! Things I would need to do: drill holes in the bottom for drainage, have soil delivered, get help to place them where I want them, then look out! Thanks so much for sharing these ideas... I need to go visit our Cal Ranch store and see how much this is going to set me back! Have fun, and I can't wait to see your pix!

  3. My husband found a filter for our pond that keeps it crystal clear. You use a Rubbermaid container (with the top center cut out) with kitchen scrubbies (nylon) with two types of filter above. You put the pump inside of that and it works great.

  4. I can't wait to watch!

  5. Although I read your blog mainly for the quilts (and I adore every one of them) I'm so happy that you finally start your garden. I really missed all this garden-talk and garden-pictures.

  6. can't wait to see your progress.

  7. Welcome to my world! I got hooked by Pam's stock tank pond two years ago (she's local to me). I love mine. And I've been slowly adding the 2'x4' oval tanks for planters. I've wanted to do the veggie garden version, but just haven't been able to get it done yet. Too late for me this spring, but fall is the best garden season for us, so maybe that will be my goal.

  8. Merry Kay10:00 AM

    What a great idea! You have inspired me to try it.

    1. I have been mulling raised garden beds (with a picture [no knowledge] in my mind of "square foot gardening"), but didn't have an idea about how to go about it. Then I read your blog and voila! I may grow fresh herbs yet. (I remember one year when you had many varieties of basil! Yet another inspiration.)

  9. I love this idea! I like them unpainted and painted. I would have to put netting around my veggies to keep the deer from eating everything.

  10. Been trying to figure out what to do in a root-bound area under a tree. I think this is exactly what I need. Last year, in another area where the Leyland Cypress died, I built a 30' long berm, 6' wide and 3' high, and planted 5 cleyara bushes. I built a stone wall to encase it all, and filled it with 3500 lbs of dirt. It took me almost 3 weeks. Not doing that again! The watering trough is perfect.

  11. It's rather like a blank canvas at this point, isn't it.

  12. Love the tank idea. Instant (well almost) garden!

  13. This is an ingenious idea! I like them painted. Also a good idea. I guess you will have to drill holes in the bottoms for drainage. You probably already know this, but Home Depot &/or Lowe's rent trucks, so you could do that to transport the things. Good luck.

  14. Anonymous1:18 PM

    Not sure if gardening is a genetic instinct or acquired addiction, but I've got it too.
    Here's another tip - Line the inside of the tanks with styrafoam to just below the soil line then fill with soil as usual, covering the top edge of the styrafoam so it doesn't show. (Or at least line the sides of the pots that will get the most sun.) It will help insulate the soil from storching heat (and cold). It doesn't have to be purchased new. I save thin styrafoam packing material & even have sliced up strips of thicker stuff that came around computers, etc. Mine's still doing it's job in barrels planted with blueberries 9 years ago!
    And for plants that don't need deep soil, empty plastic milk jugs nicely take up space in the bottom of the tanks (cheaper & lighter than potting soil!) Put some landscape cloth over the top of them (the kind that lets water through) before adding the soil. (Whether or not you use the jugs, the cloth will also keep your run-off water cleaner without the muddy mess.)
    Have fun!

  15. Melody,
    Here is another above-ground option for gardening.
    Though you may not have access to logs in the city.
    looking forward to seeing what you do.

  16. I think the unpainted galvanized metal is beautiful! It "should" weather to a nice matte gray. The vintage stuff is really pricey! Why paint when you dont have to?

  17. Diana from SC4:21 PM

    Those tanks can get hot in direct sun.....might end up with cooked fish. Plus, you might want to put in a plug for draining amd cleaning. Check out the web for additional information on the ponds. You can do above ground using timbers but it still gets hot unless you put a trellis overhead. Words for though. Love your new house.

  18. It's not whacko at all!
    Those sorts of tubs/tanks are very popular in Seattle and in Australia. They are very practical too and easy to maintain. In Oz they get sold with no bottoms in them specifically for use as raised garden beds. Some are sold with powder coated colour on them but zincalume is very common.

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