Friday, November 4, 2011

GALVANIZED WATER TANK / TROUGH VEGETABLE GARDENS


Water Troughs all in a row

In a recent blog post, I mentioned stumbling across the idea of using galvanized water troughs as raised bed gardens and I was intrigued.  So I decided to do some research, and here's the info I found along with some pictures.  All photos were randomly sourced from the internet and are not mine.  If you know where credit belongs, please let me know and I'll gladly link to them.

The general consensus is that it can be done, it's relatively easy and as compared to buying and sealing wood, can, at times, be comparable in price.  The only down side is that you are limited in the size you can have, whereas with wood, you can make any size or shape you wish.

Photo by Thomas J. Story, courtesy of Sunset Magazine Article
The main difference of course is that a lot 
of holes need to be punched/drilled into the bottom, as drainage appears to be the biggest hurdle. Most people (Bee Girl included!) put plastic bottles or rocks in the bottom to create some space between the bottom holes and the soil.  A good idea also is to put mesh in the bottom to keep soil from washing out of the holes over time.
Long water trough use as vegetable garden
One site I visited said someone was concerned about the metal and the use of it around food plants, but after careful research they found the fears unfounded



There is just so much I find appealing about this style of planting.  Not the least of which is the look of the garden; it's beautiful to see these containers in an outdoor setting.  As you can see, people are growing all sorts of stuff in them.  From flowers to salad greens to berries to full blown veggie gardens. 

I found that most commonly, people use the oval/long troughs, but I have to say I LOVE the look of these round ones in the next two pictures.  It would be awesome to have a garden with about 8 of these all in a neat arrangement in a fenced in area.  Or maybe a random placing of them around the property.


More round tanks being used as gardens
The bottom line, here are pluses:  Height, they are usually 2 feet high and that's a good height so you do not have to stoop or bend over as much, and building two foot high sides in a wooded raised bed is a little more difficult and of course uses more wood; they are contained and will hold moisture better; the metal will keep the soil warm and allow for earlier planting; and they are movable (empty of course) around the yard.  Minuses are: cost, they are more pricey new, though you might find some a farmer is willing to get rid of, but again, not sure if the cost of wood, screws, brackets and of course your time would add up to the same; then there is the holding moisture part, you really need to make sure they are well draining and have plenty of holes so that the soil doesn't get too waterlogged;  you are limited in shapes by what is available and therefore square foot gardening might not work as well; and some people worry that the metal sides, when hot, could burn leaves growing along the edge.

UPDATE #1:  I was reminded in the comments, that cutting or welding galvanized metal is not safe without the proper equipment.  Drilling holes will be OK, but just don't attempt to cut or weld without reading safety procedures for that of course.

Overall, I think I would like to try this, at least maybe with one or two and see what happens.  My first step is finding some troughs/tanks.  Living in SE Texas, there are plenty of rural ranch areas with farms/cattle/horses/etc and I should be able to find some at Feed Stores and other such places.  Maybe they can even deliver, since I'm sure I can't get one of these in the back of either of our vehicles!  I'm thinking maybe putting one near the house to keep some herbs handy for 2nd Man's cooking, and try it that way, time will tell.

UPDATE #2:  A wonderful reader names Sarah, in the comments below, made a great suggestion.  If you fill it up a bit past the drain hole with gravel, and then cover it with mesh to prevent soil was filtering down into it, then you can water until it drains out the faucet drain hole in the bottom and you'll know it's watered.  Not a bad idea and prevent drilling.  Anyone try this?

Thanks for stopping by!

162 comments:

  1. I have seen these in use outside a restaurant. I really like the look and think that they would be great for planting in areas where you couldn't normally plant, like on a deck, porch etc. I did look into them on-line. I really don't remember how much they cost though. You should be able to purchase them at a local Tractor Supply or similar type of store.

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    1. Great blog...you can find any size troughs maybe even the black ones, at any horse and feed stores, in the country..rural areas...go outside your tiny little box of land to the neighboring feed stores...lol...you can also use them for instant shallow ponds...dig a hole, put the big round one in, add a pump, VOILA!...I'm going to finally do a horse trough on my back deck, not only for the size, height, etc. but so my dogs can't get into the mud! I have already put up the little sprinkler system that goes around my deck, all set, and carrots is a good idea...i was wondering how on earth you filled that much soil up in one...the drain with the rocks at bottom with mesh is a fantastic idea...it works..but that is a lot of soil....

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    2. I found one at a recycling center...it had a few holes in the bottom. Less drilling ;) 25 bucks was a great deal.

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  2. They look beautiful all filled with plants ..should work for many..

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  3. I'm glad you're still thinking about these! We absolutely love ours :-)

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  4. Criag's List is a good source for galvanized water troughs, I found 4, 3 ovals, 1 round. Galvanized wash tubs are also good for beets, carrots and even aspargus.

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  5. I just bought two this year for collecting rainwater. I admit I said "eeek" when you mentioned drilling holes in them!
    :D
    But, yea, they are a beautiful way to grow plants. I love the look.

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    1. I am thinking of using them to collect rainwater. How do you like the results? I was just going to line them up under my eaves to catch rain as it comes off the roof intead of installing a gutter system. Imwas also thinking about putting a raised bed garden over the top of the troughs and using a pump to water using the water beneath. The excess would thenndrain back into the storage tanks. What do you think?

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  6. You know, around here, animals drink out of them. ;)

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  7. Wow, lots of comments on this posting. Thank you each and everyone. I love hearing from people when I write something, I always hope that if it helps or inspires us, it would help or inspire others. Not to mention I like learning something new.

    I'll definitely check out craigslist, I didn't even know they had a farm & garden listing. That could very well be a dangerous thing, ha. And yes, I've totally thought of using them for rainwater collection, IF it ever rains here again. I've got some rain barrel plans in my near future but these are a good idea too. We're definitely considering these, and as I said we'll probably start small, contain some mints, or perhaps put an herb garden near the kitchen door since the veggie garden, if I put it in the spot I want, will be fairly far away. Now if I see some neighbor's cows trying to drink out of my garden troughs, I'll be ticked, lol.

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    1. Craigslist IS dangerous. I look on the farm and garden , tools and free stuff all the time looking for wood for garden project for my organization Warrior Chef. I came across your site looking for one of these for a worm composting bin. I will use their waste as nutrients for my veggies. If you would like to check our facebook page out feel free. www.facebook.com/warriorchef

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  8. I've been wanting to do this. Your post has inspired me to do so! Thanks!!!

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  9. Donald - As beautiful as your gardens are (everyone, check out his blog, aMAzing!) I can't wait to see what you do with it. I'm thinking we'll end up with herbs near the house at first...but I bet filled with flowering plants, it would be gorgeous.

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  10. FYI you guys~~~~ you DO NOT need to fill troughs completely to top with soil! ... Fill trough FIRST a little over half with ANY non biodegradable material as mass! i.e. rocks, empty plastic bottles, cans, styrophome etc... Then fill remaining with top soil...

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    1. Great suggestion. I mentioned in my post that most people fill the bottom portions with plastic bottles or rocks...I should have been more specific. That's probably the best thing to do. And I love the idea of using cans, styrofoam, etc. Thanks for the reminder!!

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    2. Large Bark Nuggets work well also to fill the bottom of the water trough.

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    3. OH yeah, now ya talking my style of water trough....that is so easy and cheap, thanks...and I'm guessing using the natural bark would be even better for getting more minerals in the soil?? That's great! thanks...

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  11. 1st Man - my grandson and I just decided we would have a galvanized water tank vegetable garden - I was so excited to see your post. But - it just occurred to me . . . . doesn't galvanized steel rust? do these tanks come in aluminum? and, can you tell me about how much sun the tanks should get during the day? thanks for a great blog . . . jeannette

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    1. Jane - Galvanized metal shouldn't rust. The process of galvanization is done to prevent rusting of metal like steel and iron. These troughs are most commonly used as water tanks for livestock and that's so that they will last for years outside in the weather (and full of water, ha). We have some galvanized trashcans I bought for a gardening experiment I'll blog about later, and they been outside, for 3 years now, with no rust at all.

      That being said, they won't last forever, especially drilling holes in the bottom for drainage. There are plenty of old troughs on farms that probably have rust on them. But as for use in a garden, you'll be just fine. I walk past a trough near a restaurant about once a week and it's full of flowers and plants and has been for years and years and still looks good.

      As for sun, it depends on the plant. Most veggies need 6 to 8 hours of full sun. But again, not all. Just think about what you want to grow and look on the package (seeds) or the little tag (plants). It will tell you if they need full sun, partial sun, or shade. Just don't plant shade plants with the full sun ones if you are going to put your planter in the sun.

      Thanks for visiting! Please check back!!

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    2. Hi again...I have been using water troughs for my horses for over 40 years...no they didn't last that long, but nearly...they do rust on the inside when filled only with water...I don't think they will rust with just dirt. As far as sun and shade plants, you could put the sunny taller plants somewhat in the middle row, and the shade plants under the taller ones...OR you could do like I did last summer, it got so hot here in MS, I made little umbrellas to make shade over the plants I wanted to have more shade! hahaha if you find a kids umbrella in a dollar store, or a party umbrella, you can just stick that in the planter...great shade providers when you need them...lol

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  12. White zero voc laytex along the sides to keep it cool and show bugs. You could add a number of logs or 'firewood' to the bottom of it inside prior to adding compost to create a modern HugelKulture bed. Minimal holes in the bottom coupled with the logs ability to absorb massive amounts of water would I think moisture regulate them for quite a long while. These would be great along a driveway. The clean look of the defined edges while sitting atop pea gravel speaks to me....

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    1. Wow, love that idea! I've been reading on HugelKulture, it's a fascinating method! Any anything that conserves water would be great. The clean lines are what appeal to me as well, so orderly! Probably why I like/want raised beds in our garden. Love that look too. Thanks for commenting!!!

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  13. Another Idea dill holes in the side big enough for strawberries for garden, or hens & chicks for flower gardens.

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    1. Now that's a great idea too! Like that! Thanks!!!

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  14. Thanks for sharing not only your ideas, but what you found in your research. This is both a great way to garden but also nice on the water conservation as you can control that a little more with dedicated bins. Going to have to pin this great resource!

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    1. Amy, you are so kind. Thanks!! That's what I want to try to do with this blog, just find things we find interesting and doing a little research and putting it all together in an interesting blog post. Thanks again!! Please come back and visit!!

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    2. Don't forget that in raised beds you will have to use MUCH MORE water then if you planted in the ground (I thought I was saving water until I found out I was watering MUCH MORE than before!) Guess it evaporates or something, even in the wooden ones. :-(

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  15. I've been using them for several years for herbs and vegetables-even potatos in the deep ones.

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    1. MMMMM, potatoes!! Another great idea! I see some troughs in our near future!!

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  16. I've been doing this for many years now. I ask for cow troughs for my birthday. I live in Middle TN and it gets very hot here during the summer. I've never had leaf burn. I start with lettuce, radishes, and green onions. After I pick those, I plant tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. I have one dedicated to herbs. I painted my troughs to blend in with my deck. They are also fairly easy to shade if need be. I have shaded the lettuce from rain and sun with a garden umbrella. They really are fun and much easier than in ground gardening and will last much longer than wood.

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    1. Wow, sounds awesome! Do you have a blog? You should share some pics, I'm sure people (me included) would love to see! Painting is a great idea. What type of paint do you use that adheres best to the metal? Thanks for the comment about not having leaf burn. That was just one "warning" I read somewhere and I passed it along. We have very hot summers here too so I was worried about that. Glad to know it might not be a problem. Maybe I should start asking for troughs for my birthday and holidays, LOL! Great idea!!

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    2. Im a tole painter and I use Folk Art or Patio Paint. Spray a clear sealer over the acrylic paint but the patio paints is good to go.

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  17. For years, I used an aluminum boat for my garden. I filled with potting soil with some fertilizer, an it worked beautiful!So you might check the boat salvage yard too. I moved since then, but plan to use it again this year too.

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    1. An aluminum boat? THAT'S awesome! Thanks for the suggestion, I love it! You know, that would be a neat idea next to a pond! Sort of like an 'abandoned boat' that is growing plants. :-)

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    2. outstanding idea's. I have 4 4x8 raised beds. I was able to find 3 of the rubber maid water troughs from a horse barn when they cracked this past winter. I am going to use them instead of fabricating more 4x8 beds. I have a few smaller troughs for water catching water and a large 2x6x2.5 holding my compost tumbler. [compost tea as well] Just stumbled upon your blog.

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  18. I'm so excited! I live in Fort worth in an area sitting on sandstone. We had to use a pick ax to plant a tree. I have tried mounding up the soil and digging out a little but it's not exactly what I want. This may be my answer! Now I just have to convince my hubby that it looks OK. And, I have to work around the existing sprinklers. This could be fun. :)

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    1. I'm glad it was able to inspire you! I never thought about this advantage, using it when your ground is otherwise unusable. We love the look of these, and even though we have ground we can plant in, I just think this is such an awesome idea. Thanks for sharing!!! Let us know if you do it and how it comes out!! :-)

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  19. This is great. We have gophers and this would keep them out of the garden. What a wonderful idea. Thanks. Live the boat idea also.

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    1. Another great advantage, keeping out unwanted digging animals, ha. Cool! Thanks for the comment!

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  20. I was just telling a friend of mine I wanted to try doing this! Im glad I found your article! Plus it saves me from having to dig up my grass!
    http://horsebeginnings.blogspot.com/

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    1. Glad we could help! Hopefully you'll do well, keep us posted.

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  21. Hello! I'm so glad to have come across this blog. You wrote, "One site I visited said someone was concerned about the metal and the use of it around food plants, but after careful research they found the fears unfounded." Could you share a link to this site? I've come across the concerns but not the information that dismisses them. Thanks!

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    1. I understand! There are some scary comments out there online. I read both pro and con. Most of the con always seemed based on old info or just 'heard from someone that they were dangerous'. I tried to find some magazines that maybe put a little research into it.

      Here is one article from Mother Earth News:

      http://www.motherearthnews.com/ask-our-experts/galvanized-wire-zb0z09zblon.aspx

      Here is another from Sunset:

      http://freshdirt.sunset.com/2011/02/are-galvanized-containers-safe-for-vegetable-crops-1-1.html

      There was another great article I read that was by a science guy. It was very technical but informative. I'll see if I can find it. The general consensus is that it's safe but there are still people who wonder. I'm comfortable in what I read that I'll be having some out at the farm with veggies and herbs in them. And I'll post pics every step of the way.

      Hope that helps, but let me know if you have concerns and I'll see what else I can find!

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    2. Excellent! Those links helped a lot. Thank you!

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  22. I've used old washtubs as raised beds for a few years and love the look. One is a double washtub on legs and the other is a single that I built a base for out of treated 2X4 to raise it up a bit. It's still early spring in Arkansas so I don't have any pictures right now. I've really enjoyed the look and can't wait to add these larger tubs.

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    1. Oooh, great idea because they are raised up! I remember my grandmother used to have those, of course not with plants in them but that's a great option!! Thanks for the suggestion!

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  23. HI, great suggestions BTW please be careful if you cut or weld galvanized metal with a torch. It can make you very sick.
    http://www.hobartwelders.com/weldtalk/archive/index.php/t-10834.html

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    1. Great reminder! In fact, I'm puttin an addendum to the original post to remind readers. Thanks!!

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  24. Foam packing peanuts in the bottom half!...then a strip of landscape fabric...top with organic potting soil!

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    1. I never thought about that method. Wonderful! Just fill the bottom with the peanuts and use landscape fabric, great idea!!!

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  25. What do you usually plan for plants/seed per inch. I am using old feeding troughs that were on our farm from the days when they had cattle. I don't have much of a green thumb but my daughter wants to trying gardening. What are some of the more practicle plants to use? Can you use "vine" plants like cucumbers, green beans etc?

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    1. Sorry, I just saw this post, not sure how it didn't show up until now. Just think of your troughs as a raised bed, which they are, and take the measurements as length/width. Most any seed will show you on the package how many per inch, etc. A good thing to look up would be square foot gardening. It takes into account a 12"x12" square and shows how much you can pant in each spot. So if your trough is 2' wide by 6' long for example, then you just convert that to a square foot plant. You'd have 2 rows of 6 squares. Just plant accordingly.

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  26. I love your blog. I had no idea that there are so many other people out there using water troughs. We have horses and have always used galvanized water troughs. We had a rather large one start leaking so I confiscated it to plant in and I will absolutely not go back to planting a garden in the ground. I have filled mine up about half way with large bark mulch which will break down and helps moisture. I now have 6 troughs planted with a variety of veggies and plants. My latest planting is in a horse feeder that has a trough on each side and hay rack in the middle. The only problem I have is that the squirrels love to invade them to bury their pecans and the cats bury their
    _ _ _ _! lol I have not found anything that will keep them out.

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    1. Thank you for the comment about the blog, we appreciate it. Bark mulch is a great idea! Plus it would provide nutrients. I wish we had some 'extras' just sitting around, ha. They are expensive to buy, but seem like they hold up and last forever (or at least a loooong time, ha).

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  27. I have galv water troughs planted in but even though I look all the time on Craigslist I can't seem to find anything. I also have plastic round troughs at the local feed store. Large and I'm gonna get one for fall. then I fill them with Mushroom compost from a place near gonzales about 15 miles from me. If you have a truck and perhaps a trailer you could drive up and get some. It's 25$ for a HUGE scoop. MOre than I can fit in my truck bed. Hence the trailer idea. It's great stuff. composted already and ANYTHING grows in it. I'd NEVER use dirt because that costs so much.

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    1. Are you speaking of Gonzales in California? If that is the case would you be kind and give me a name and address where the mushroom compost is available? I live on the SF Peninsula and frequently drive through the Central Valley. Thank you.

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    2. That mushroom compost sounds awesome. I dont' think that's too far from the farm. It would be worth a drive when we get to that point. Thanks for the tip! I'll keep you posted. And for the other comment, I am pretty sure she is referring to here in Texas. But I hope someone knows something about the SF area and can help you out!!

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  28. I found a site for a cool irrigation system in the trough check out http://www.maryjanesfarm.org/Recipes-Patterns-Instrctions/horse-trough-gardening.pdf My iPad would not allow me to cut and paste the URL so you can search "water trough garden" in google if the link doesn't work.

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    1. Now that is pretty awesome! Thank you SO much for the link. I might have to just investigate this a little further, it looks like an ingenious solution!! Thank you again and thanks for stopping by!

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  29. We repurposed some second hand bathtubs, made treated timber boxes for them to sit in (but not touch the soil) our snow peas and capsicums are doing reaaly well. We are in the tropics of northern Queensland, Australia.

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    1. Wow, now that's a great idea too. I'd love to see a picture of that. Congrats on the reuse of the bathtub, cool!

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  30. You can also ask your local ranchers/farmers if they have any old stock tanks they would be willing to give you. We have to replace our stock tanks from time to time because they will begin to leak. If you are using them for gardening, you will need to drill holes in them anyway so a leaky tank is OK for this purpose ... I recycle my old tanks to use as planters. I think the old tanks have more character than the new shiny ones anyway ;)

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    1. Hi! thanks for stopping by! Yes, I totally agree, the new shiny ones look TOO nice. I would like the older not so shiny ones. That's a great idea to ask around. i will do that thank you for the tip!! Come back and visit soon!

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  31. Does anyone know if this will work with black rubbermade watering troughs as well. Might be too hot?? I also have the glass out of an old siding door and I am considering that to set on top for a kind of eary seed start.

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    1. You know, I don't see why that wouldn't work? Black will absorb heat so your soil will be warm, just keep that in mind. And make sure there are holes for water draining. I love the idea of an old sliding door on top as a greenhouse/cold frame type of set up. Great idea!!

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  32. Hello! I can't believe I found your blog while searching for a used tank for our well. I have been collecting used galvanized tanks for a few months and told my husband I am planting a garden. I also am in process of spray painting the oustide to match our shop and barn. Looking for metal horses and horse shoes to stencil around just thought how different that would be. Now to find so many people interested in some of the same ideas is great. I have a set up with one round tank in the middle with two set over and two below so I can walk around the circle tank and can turn around to have four others around the circle. I will have to send a photo when I have completed. Thank you so much for sharing your stories. So much for me telling my husband this idea can take off!

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    1. Well first of all, thank you for stopping by and thanks for the kind words. I am totally jealous you have some you've collected and "saved up". That's awesome. And painting them to match? Oh my, I'd definitely love to see that sometime. Do feel free to send a photo anytime, I'd love to compliment YOU on your hard work!

      Yay!

      Come back and visit!!

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  33. What a great idea! I live in Australia so will have to do some research on availability of troughs.

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    1. Thanks! I know they are available new at feed supply type stores, you might find them there if you have some of those type stores. Good luck I hope you find something!! thanks for stopping by.

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  34. Farmers and ranchers would probably give you the ones that have developed holes and leaks over the years. A great recycling project. They've used them for strawberries and such for years and years. Glad to see it catching on.

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    1. Great idea, just ask and you might just take an otherwise "useless' thing off a farmers hands and repurpose it into something else. Good advice! Thank you Shirley!!

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  35. I have been using one for Hydrangeas and Hostas. works great in a shaded area and looks very nice.

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    1. Lizzie, I bet that is beautiful. The contrast of the flowers and the colors of the hostas must look very pretty in the metal, especially in dappled sun/shade. Thanks for the tip!!

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  36. Such great things you are sharing! Thank you so much. You stated on a side note that you are moving to self-sustainabilty. How wonderful! If I may suggest, check a site called Aquaponics and Earth. They are truly amazing what they share on this very thing and are so openly helping people get to this point. They are also on facebook and are so knowledgeable and giving with all that they know!

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    1. I will definitely check that out. Thank you for the tip. And thanks for stopping by!

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  37. I'm impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that's both educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. Thank you!

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  38. I'd like to know the source of your "plain looking" troughs, the ones pictured in the first photo on this post. We're having a small garden on the side of our townhouse redone (ivy and vinca removed, weed cloth placed, pea gravel installed, with troughs and cedar-sided rectangular beds built) and the troughs our design guy has proposed are horizontally ribbed. I've also seen some that are vertically ribbed; but I like yours with the plain sides. Specifically, I'm looking for 6'x2'x2' troughs. I've looked at Tractor Supply and Southern States, even Amazon, and can't seem to find anything simple in style. So glad I found your blog; I think this is the start of a long readership!

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    1. First of all, THANK YOU for stopping by and the nice words about the start of a long readership. We really appreciate it. Alas, these aren't mine, I just found pictures online as I was doing research. I was going to suggest Tractor Supply but you've tried that. Hmmm....my friends at work call me the king of google, lol, let me see what I can find. ;-)

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  39. What about Polyethylene tanks?

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    1. Ok but hard to find in large sizes and they would tend to bulge.

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  40. I would put galvanized wire with small holes under neat them IF you place on the ground But drilling holes for water relief will increase the rust. But good patio containers but put on Stones for draining. And expect some small about of soil lost each year

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    1. Thanks John for the info. Great suggestions, much appreciated!!! Hope you had a great holiday season!!

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  41. For people worried about the rust aspect of galvanized steel containers its actually not a big problem. I remember my science teacher telling us that rust wasn't bad for you it was actually good because it contains iron which our body needs. Back in the day when people were anemic doctors would tell them to take rusted nails and put them in water and then drink the rusty water to get a supply of iron. Of course I wouldn't suggest that now since we have the convencience of modern medicine and iron pills but the rust won't do anything harmful. If you do have rust in the container you could try scrubbing some of it out but as I said it shouldn't be a problem since you'll be eating plant produce not the actual container itself(or so I hope). The only thing that I do suggest is if your working with anything rusty be sure to be up-to-date with your tetanus shot! Tetanus is not caused by the rust but is cause by a deadly bacteria that grows around rusty areas because its a perfect habitat for it. When you get cut by something that has rust (and very likely the bacteria growing around it) it allows the bacteria into your system through the blood stream. The best way to prevent this from happening and from getting tetanus is to A) get the tetanus shot which will give you antibodies to help fight the bacteria should you ever get it in your system and B) use common sense and handly rusty things with precaution and/or use gloves when you work in the garden. Should you get cut by something rusty and are unsure if you have had a tetanus shot or are up to date call up your doctor right and ask what you should do, don't just ignore it because the bacteria is deadly and 1 out of four people who dont get it treated die so please use common sense and take it seriously! If your still unsure or want a professionals option please get one because I am not a doctor so please don't take my info and believe it unconditionally. If I'm wrong about some info I do apologize and if you have the correct info please post it for others to read! Here's a website that has some basic info on tetanus:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001640/

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    1. ooh, shots, ugh. But yes, I understand. Thanks for the tips!!

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  42. I just happened on to your blog and found it to be a delightful read and extremely informative. I'm hooked now. Great work!

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    1. Awww, now that's a sweet comment. Thank you!! And WELCOME! Our little farm is a slow but steady work in progress. We started with a blank slate (well a slate that had to be redone, ha) and are slowly and steadily doing something. Hope you enjoy the journey!!

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  43. I have a tub which I planted in the fall with about 8 different lettuces and they are growing beautifully! I bought a Dripping Springs olla and placed it in the middle, fill it with my rain water, and it is AMAZING! It waters your plants with the exact amount of water, and so i only fill it twice a week using the little rain water I have. I bought mine at Zingers in Austin, don't know where else they sell them, but I think they have a website.
    The other great thing about the small tubs is that I can easily surround the tub with netting to keep out the deer, which are a problem in my area.
    Thanks for the great blog!

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    1. Well, I wish I knew your name to say thanks, but I will say thanks to you (fellow Texan I presume?) for stopping by. Olla? Hmmm, you've intrigued me. I will check that out. Sounds interesting.

      Thanks again and stop by again! Thanks for the kind words!

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  44. Ollas have been in use for century's. They are making a come back now days.
    I make ours from 2 clay pots glued together ....only about $8 opposed to $30....although theirs are mighty fine.
    I am intrigued with these troughs because I want to make them into wicking beds. For they seem to be the best choice for desert areas.
    Thanks JimT.Carver

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    1. Wow, that sounds like a project I'd like to tackle. Now I'm off to google homemade ollas! I'm all about the deal, that's for sure, ha. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the tip!

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  45. Well the horse/cow troughs are lovely but if I try them I think I would do straw bale gardening in them that way the straw breaks down and I wouldn't have to fill with soil.

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    1. Smart idea! I'm still trying to find a few used ones someone is willing to part with so I don't have to buy new ones. But if I have to, I'll break down and do that. Good idea with the straw bale gardening. Never thought about that but that could work well in one of these.

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  46. I turned an 80 gallon galvanized tank into a pretty water garden with catails and taro plants. I found a fountain pump online that hooks into my low voltage lighting system and I set it up to run a little spitter fountain to add some oxygen to the water. Then I added a half dozen goldfish to take care of any mosquitos. Very low maintenence and pretty and adds relaxing sound and movement of water to my space.

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    1. Oh I've wanted a water garden for ages. I always think 'in ground' but above ground in one of these tanks would be great (and so much easier than in ground). Thanks for the suggestion, dang, now I have something new to obsess about ha, Thanks again, come back soon!!

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  47. Does anyone know a good source for finding used ones? I live in southern California.

    Thanks!

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    1. I know here in Texas, there are these stores called Tractor Supply. They sell them new BUT they have a bulletin board where you can post things you want and things people are looking for. You might check feed stores if there are some of those around. There's always craigslist too. If anyone else has ideas, please share! Thanks for stopping by!

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  48. I found a source for new galvanized steel tanks: Loomis Tank http://shop.loomistank.com

    They have all sorts of sizes, including ones only 12 inches high. My question is this: is the typical 2 foot depth preferable from a plant growth standpoint to the 1 foot depth? Since everyone here says to fill the bottom half of the 2 foot ones with rocks, wood etc. perhaps I can save money by buying the shorter-depth ones and simply filling them with soil?

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    1. Thank you for that link, I will check it out (and hope others will too). I would think, from my personal experience with just container gardening in general, that the two foot depth would be best if you put a bunch of stuff in the bottom. 12 inches deep is good if it's all soil but if you want to put some drainage material in the bottom, you might lose some planting depth with the 12 inches. For herbs and such though, you'd be fine with 12 inches. That's just my thought, if anyone else has idea, let us know!! Thank you for stopping by!!

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  49. Does any one have experience burying a large galvanized steel tank in the ground with many holes in it to act as a barrier for spreading bamboo? Seems like a good solution to keep it from taking over the neighborhood!! They say you need 24-30 in depth to contain the roots and these tanks are less expensive than plastic. I think they would last a long time.

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    1. That's an interesting solution for bamboo which can be invasive. I'm not sure about burying them, like how long they would last etc. I hope someone might have some help for you. Thanks for stopping by!

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  50. Great blog! Glad I found it and I also appreciate that you acknowledge photos borrowed from the web and have asked for help crediting them. The photo above captioned 'Galvanized Trough looks awesome' is from Sunset Magazine's website and is by Thomas J. Story. Here's a link: http://www.sunset.com/garden/backyard-projects/ultimate-raised-bed-how-to-00400000011938/page11.html

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    1. I have updated that photo, and provided the hyperlink. Thank you for a) stopping by and your kind words and b) thanks for the info so I could correct it. Hope you'll come back soon!!

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    2. Round End Tank 2 x 1 x 6 ft. $119.99 each

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  51. QUESTION ????/ Could I plant Clumping American Native Bamboo in a tank like this & get the growth (25 FT) & life (5-8 years). Or would I be wasting time & money.

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    1. Sorry for delay, these comments got pushed down the list and I didn't notice them. I wouldn't know for sure, BUT I have seen it in galvanized tubs growing quite well. Not sure of the height or the longevity, but it would be worth a try I think. My gut tells me you wouldn't get the height, but i bet you'd get the life.

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  52. Just discovered this wonderful blog and I don't read blogs. First saw galvanized troughs for plants in the garden of the home my son bought in San Francisco. Filled with bamboo. Two troughs along part of the fence line - beautiful and tidy. Sorry I don't know how old the plants are. In my own garden in Montana, I started with custom-made raised beds (with wide edges for us to sit on) to use for square-foot gardening. Added some half wine barrels and now I'd like to fill in more of the spaces with the galvanized troughs. Thanks so much for the various ideas for the "filler" at the bottom --- lots of my recyclables may have a new home. Much lighter and cheaper than bags of sand! And the painting ideas, too! Maybe my artistically-inclined husband can add some color and whimsy. Thank you everyone for an enjoyable read.

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    1. Well thank you so much for the kind words. Oooh, I bet your son's looked beautiful. Isn't the idea of filler great? We have some great readers who offered wonderful suggestions.. I would love to seem them painted and looking pretty too. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  53. Hello! Iwas reading this and may try it out this spring! Looks like a great idea. I'm thinking of trying one this year and adding a next if it goes well (rotating the plant family from the first one to the second and adding a new family in the first one to cycle nutrients). I'm wondering if somebody here in the know can tell me if this is what I'm looking for

    http://www.tractorsupply.com/en/store/oval-galvanized-stock-tank-2-ft-w-x-6-ft-l-x-2-ft-h-169-gal-capacity

    I want to do this safely to feed my family and certainly don't want to buy something that is wrong that could pollute the vegetables.

    Also - how many holes do you think are needed in the bottom? Maybe rocks over the holes would help to not have to have pure soil and prevent soil from coming out of the hoest.

    Thoughts would be appreciated!

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    1. There are some links above about the safety but the general consensus is that they are safe. As for the one you linked to, yes that's exactly the kind. It's about the right size. I don't know how many holes you'd need, it depends on how big you make the holes but just put enough that water can drain out on each side. Thanks and good luck!

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  54. I found the tubs at ace hardware

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    1. I never thought about Ace, great idea. Thanks!!

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  55. I am so grateful I found this. I was looking in the Southern Living (April, 2013) magazine and I was really impressed by this kind of gardening. I appreciate how you have done all the research and I should be able to start on a small scale right away. Thanks again for your insight

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    1. Well, I don't know what to say except thank you for your comment. Much appreciated. I've learned just as much from all of you who've commented and shared personal tips and tricks. Thank you again!!

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  56. Hello from Seattle, Washington where every little bit of sunshine counts in gardening. I have thought about vegetable gardening in troughs for years. I am now at "retiring age" and still want to live on my property as long as I can. I had been thinking about redoing my own acre veggie garden in all troughs.That way I don't have to bend down any more and weeding has become a breeze. All the troughs (I went ahead and got 24 of them last Fall from a Feed Supply Store and they delivered them) are sitting on plastic that is covered in gravel. All of this sits on top of my old rasied beds. Just put a bit of plastic netting over the drain hole and cover it with an upside down plastic pot. Infact, save all your old plastic pots, large ones are best, and turn them upside down and they will fill the bottom of the troughs. Put a piece of fabric cloth over the pots and then add your compost and dirt,straw and mushroom compost and grow away. I call this my "retired old lady garden". You would be surprised how much you can grow in one trough and you can even double plant with tall plants towards the back of the planter or the center (depending on the sun) and let other plants grow up the tall ones. I just go out onto the property and cut branches and stick them into the dirt in the troughs so I don't have to build a trellis. Just use a little string to attach the plants as they grow up. I have had two troughs out front of my house for ten years and they have not needed any other holes drilled into the bottoms because they had some of that plastic netting in front of the drain hole I pulled out. If I didn't tell you they were water troughs you wouldn't even notice because the trailing plants hide most of the trough color and shine. They are wonderful ways to grow anything from herbs to potatos and for those of you who want your compost near your troughs..... I just sunk two old galvanized garbage cans (with lids on top)into the ground and I put all my kitchen compost in those two cans. All I do every Spring is use a few shovefuls from the cans in each of the troughs. Oh, I put worm sized holes in the compost cans, sunk them to ground level and I then went to a sports store and bought about ten dollars of worms. They love th compost and they can go and come through the holes. Another thing I have read about is putting one or two short pipes into the soil of the troughs and you can pour water right down into the troughs that way for the plants. You can do anything you want with the troughs and produce so much for your family and friends. They can easily be covered with plastic (from your dry cleaners) to warm up the soil and put in your early vegetables and get a head start on growing. I have typed too much...so I will stop... Happy Troughing.

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    1. First of all, you did not type too much, I LOVE it all! Thank you thank you for such valuable first hand info. Sounds like you have had great success and you are inspiring ME! I have just built my raised beds but I'd like to use some troughs mixed in for herbs and such and maybe later on someday (retired old man garden? ha), they can transition to replace the beds. Thank you again, bunches, for the info. Please comment anytime!! Thanks for stopping by!!

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  57. Excellent Posts, thinking about planting tomatoes and banana peppers, this would work great!

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  58. Love the method. Only thing to remember from a study I just read- water does not move well from one size to another such as fine material (soil) to coarse (rocks) - so placing rocks in bottom of container gardens isn't a frat idea. Soil can remain waterlogged despite the attempt to leave room or drainage.

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  59. Cool! Thanks for the fun ideas! I just got two of these from my father-in-law who was just getting rid of them! Yay for me!! Another idea is to use coffee filters to keeps soil from washing out drainage holes in pots, so I guess you could just overlap them for a bigger scale project like this! I'm going to try it! Thanks again!

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  60. I'm in the sf bay area and two of my friends have used the troughs and are making wonderful veggies.

    My garden is being destroyed by gophers---I've tried everything---even a Rodenator (google it) and it is very satisfying but not too effective long term and the police think we are starting a war!

    Anyway re the troughs:

    Are the drain holes really neccessary if you place a couple of inches of medium gravel and some geo textile on top of it then the planting soil to provide drainage through the existing drain---like a horizontal retaining wall? Somebody commented on this above but no conclusions or discussion.

    There are many concerns re rust---if the galvanizing is not breached rust should not be a problem. There are paintable coatings and the with proper prep can be placed over galvanizing for example POR-15, Rustolium and Zero-Rust are a few. Drilling holes WILL breach the galvanizing so painting the bottom may be a good idea if you do drill. Also allowing air under the tubs by elevating them on a few bricks will further help the rust issue.


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  61. I'm in the sf bay area and two of my friends have used the troughs and are making wonderful veggies.

    My garden is being destroyed by gophers---I've tried everything---even a Rodenator (google it) and it is very satisfying but not too effective long term and the police think we are starting a war!

    Anyway re the troughs:

    Are the drain holes really neccessary if you place a couple of inches of medium gravel and some geo textile on top of it then the planting soil to provide drainage through the existing drain---like a horizontal retaining wall? Somebody commented on this above but no conclusions or discussion.

    There are many concerns re rust---if the galvanizing is not breached rust should not be a problem. There are paintable coatings and the with proper prep can be placed over galvanizing for example POR-15, Rustolium and Zero-Rust are a few. Drilling holes WILL breach the galvanizing so painting the bottom may be a good idea if you do drill. Also allowing air under the tubs by elevating them on a few bricks will further help the rust issue.


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  62. Hello- we just purchased 3 large galvanized tubs for vegetable gardening. We drilled holes, put mesh over the holes and piled in one layer of logs. Now WHAT???!!!! Absolute newbie to gardening. We don't know what to do to fill- soil wise? Screened fill dirt mixed with compost? Then 6-8 inches of potting mix?

    Also- most of our logs are from old Eucalyptus, redwood, and willow that we have cut down around the house years ago. Is that wood acceptable for vegetable gardening?

    Thank you so much for helping out a "wanna be" gardener!

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    1. Sorry for delay in replying! They logs are a great idea. Remember though, they will, over time, compost away, which is perfectly fine and only adds nutrients to the soil and veggies. As for the wood, I don't think there is any harm in those woods, but I don't know for sure. You should google something called "hugelkultur" about that. It's a method of using logs and decomposing wood as a raised bed. There is probably some great info on what woods are good.

      As for a soil mix, remember there are really three types. Potting mix, Garden soil and topsoil (or dirt). A potting mix is best because it is specially blended to hold the right amount of moisture for a container. Gardening and topsoil is supposed to be mixed with the dirt in your ground. That isn't always good because it can hold too much water. In a container, of any kind, you want the soil to drain and not promote root rot.

      Adding compost is ALWAYS a great idea no matter where you are planting.

      Good luck and keep us posted!!

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  63. I too like hotobill above am wondering about if any drain holes are necessary. They do have a spigot faucet at the bottom that would drain some water out that side. We were told to just put gravel {how many inches of it we are not sure} or other things on the bottom for drainage and screening over that to keep the dirt from sifting down into the gravel. We would prefer to not put any drain holes in it if it is not necessary. We get very little rain here so that should help keep it somewhat dryer too. We found ours at a local feed store. It was not new but never used and we got a good deal on it. Thanks for all the information!! Sarah

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    1. Well thanks first of all for stopping by. You know, that would be a great idea. I like the idea of gravel and then mesh to keep the soil from sifting down. I think i will edit my post to reflect what you said. The more I think about it, the more I think that's a great idea. Thank you!!

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  64. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your Blog! I'm currently building a new home in Lancaster County, PA and will be surrounded by plenty of Amish and Mennonite Farmers! This is great idea for how to grow plenty of veggies and flowers! Thanks for the tip!

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    1. Well aren't you too sweet!! Thank you, that means a lot to us. Oh it's a dream to come tour the Amish country someday. Hope to do that. I hope you have a great build, can't wait to hear about it. Do you have a blog? If not, at least come back from time to time and keep us updated!

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  65. Just started up a new blog. http://cocalicocreekprims.blogspot.com/

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    1. So sorry, I just noticed this comment and your blog link. I'm following now! Thank you for stopping by!!! Keep on blogging!!

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  66. Did you ever do this? Is love to know how it turned out! Someone mentioned using packing peanuts as a filler and I just found biodegradable ones on uline.com! I am so gonna try using the watering troughs this year:)

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    1. Haven't done it, yet, because the garden fencing got finished too late last year. I'm working on it this year (the garden area) and am focused on the raised beds....BUT, I've left some open space within the area for future galvanized troughs like these. Thanks for the suggestion of the packing peanuts. I'll keep that in mind!! Don't be a stranger!! :-)

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  67. Oh, just found your blog and am loving it! So tired of half wine barrels that don't last and gophers that destroy...we have huge silver maples and cannot get a shovel in the ground, so have planted fuschias, hydrangeas, hostas, and ferns in pots and barrels for years...this gives me the motivation to go find some galvanized tubs to replace some of out barrels that have given up. Is it ok to put the troughs directly on the dirt, or should we lift them up on bricks?

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    1. Well thank you very much for taking time to comment. Funny you mentioned the wine barrels, we had some in town in the back yard and while they looked really good for awhile, they quickly started coming apart at the seams. Then getting rid of them was even harder, ha.

      As for the troughs, everything I've read said putting them directly on the dirt is ok. What i was thinking is that if they were on bricks, you'd have to make sure you distribute the bricks evenly for support because if you put them around the edges, the weight of the soil will put pressure on the bottom of the trough and it might start to curve the bottom down. I think on bricks or rocks would be ok but just make sure about that.

      Good luck!!

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  68. I did this in Lexington KY. I even found some people who were willing to give me troughs that no longer held water for their horses. The only downside to them is that they do need to be watered a lot. Being a raised bed, they dry out a lot faster and the metal will conduct a lot of heat, so plants like lettuce may not be ideal in these planters.

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  69. I did a couple of these in Lexington, KY and actually got some for free from some farms when they didn't hold water any longer. The only down side to them is that, like most raised beds, they need to be watered a lot more b/c they dry out faster. And b/c they are in metal the soil is heated up a lot more. Might not be ideal for plants like lettuce that tends to like cooler temps.

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    1. I'm sorry I didn't reply to this sooner. Wow, i'd love to find some for free. Maybe I should ask around one of these days. I have actually been thinking about putting some sort of drip irrigation in one. Thanks for the advice, I'll keep you posted!!!

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  70. Glad I found your blog, very helpful and learned a lot. I have 4 raised beds, but recently I decided to get some troughs. A friend had offered me some that he had used over the years and no longer uses it, so I got them. I really love comments and your replies made but I have a question, can I use some wood chips on the bottom before adding my compost? I have a suggestion that I learned from other gardeners using plastic bottles with holes all around, bury near your plants with the top exposed for you to pour water and make sure screw top back on. I might try this or can have drip irrigation too.

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    1. I don't see why wood chips wouldn't work. Great that you got some for free, that's awesome. Just remember that with wood chips, they will eventually break down and decompose and your level will drop a bit.

      You have a great suggestion for watering the plants, that's great. Thanks for the info! Please come back and visit!!

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  71. Had tree stumps ground up. Could I put some of the mulch in galvanized steel tubs, cover with landscape fabric and add soil?

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    1. That would be great. Just remember it will settle over time. Good luck!

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  72. Try packing peanuts and screen it works great

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    1. Now that is a great idea. Keeps them out of landfills and does the job huh? I have a couple of big bags of those, and may be starting a smaller version of a galvanized tub for plantings. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  73. Is it possible to plant bushes and small trees in the troughs too? Has anyone done that?

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    1. If the container is large enough for what you are planting, absolutely! I see them around town with large bushes/shrubs and small trees.

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  74. This is awesome! Just bought a couple of troughs and can't wait to get started. Anyone else have a problem drilling the holes? I've got a good drill and titanium bits, and it'll take me a year at the rate I'm going. I could use a tip for the drilling, or, interested in the suggestion above about using gravel to the drainhole. Is there sufficient drainage with that method?

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    1. Sorry for delay in replying to this, it got buried down the list of comments. We have a couple we've started for some potatoes but I didn't have any problems drilling the holes, you need high speed and a good for metal use bit. I hope you got them drilled!!

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  75. Hi I just bought six containers I am also concerned about drilling holes. I am wanting to just use the existing one hole with drain rock, a layer of landscaping fabric, and some super soil. My property is slightly sloped and also is paved aggregate. I think the idea of packaging peanuts is interesting but I worry about the long term effects of plastic and foam, as they now warn about plastic water bottles. Anyone out there just using the one existing drain? I am also concerned about the bottoms rusting out with compromising the galvanizing. Thanks for your input. Shelley

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    1. Again, sorry for delay. You could probably use just the one drain hole, you just don't want to let it get blocked or clogged up. It might also help to put a slight angle to the container, just an ever so slight angle so that water would go toward that drain hole. I like the suggestion below about bark chips, that would work nicely.

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  76. I use the galvanized tubs for my plants and I did drill the holes in the bottom. Use a small to medium drill bit and press hard while drilling. It will eventually pop through. I placed several holes in a circular pattern every few inches, then layered with pea gravel, a large enough piece of professional landscape fabric(the kind that don't tear, you can get it at Home Depot), then the soil mixed with compost, peatmoss, potting soil and garden soil. Make sure the soil is already mixed with whatever you're going to put in it so and to not dig down and disturb the bottom layers. I even added a few holes about halfway up the sided all the way around for extra drainage, especially when it rains. I live in Michigan and they stay in the yard with all the snow, rain ect. and are not rusting. People walk by and love the idea. But now I'm looking for troughs for my greenhouse I'm about to build. So if anyone in Michigan knows where I can find some, I'd greatly appeciate knowing. I'm trying to start a community garden.

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    1. Great suggestion, I forgot about that earlier. Yes, push hard and it just pops through. I like your mix, that's for the suggestion.

      A community garden is a great thing, good luck and good gardening!!!

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  77. If you're that worried with metals leaching into your food, try painting the inside with leftover house paint or rustoleum, or tape an old painters tarp, old shower curtain or even plastic glad wrap inside with duct tape.I use free wood chips from the city or telephone company to fill bottom up. Helps keep soil moist!

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    1. Good tip about the pain. I love the idea of the wood chips. Thanks for the comment!! And thanks for stopping by!

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  78. Thanks for the comments! For some reason, even with a powerful drill and a brand new titanium drill bit, we had a hard time. We even did guide holes with nails first and still had trouble breaking through. After a lot of hard work, we finally gave up and are just relying on the drain hole.

    I layered my tanks with gravel, a couple of logs, bark, weed cloth and good, organic soil.

    A frustrating start, but everything is growing gangbusters, so I guess it's all good.

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    1. Well that is an awesome update, thanks for sharing. If the drain hole works, I say that's the best way! Keep us all updated if you don't mind!

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  79. Wow, can't believe all the comments and suggestions. I've been wanting a vegetable garden by the hubby's new shed. I still may till the area and surround them with rocks to make mowing easier. Thanks for the tips and ideas.

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    1. I'm so glad you got some good advice. The commenters are the ones that come up with some of the best ideas. Please keep us posted about the progress!

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  80. Whenever I plant in a container no matter the size whether house plant or for the outside I always cover the drainage hole or holes with window screening. That is something we always have around the house and even scrap pieces will do.

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  81. Living in a sandy area, its hard to get the correct soil for some vegetables and flowers. I bought a 10.5 gallon round tub for $2.00 at a yard sale, and painted the outside. It has been used for at least ten years and still holds up well. I leave it outside in the snow all winter, and still looks good each spring. 2014 I have Swiss Chard and a pepper plant. Cross your fingers for me on the pepper :)

    Wish your site had a way to attach pictures...too bad.

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    1. Yeah, the way blogger is set up it can't attach pictures. You can always email a photo to me and I'd be glad to post it (even on this post) for you. You can be anonymous if you'd wish. I'd love to put up a photo of something that someone did and share it with the world, ha. My email me button is over on the sidebar.

      Thanks for sharing and stopping by!!

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