Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Cheap, Durable, Raised Herb Garden

Would you like to make a raised garden and maybe to grow some herbs?  Wood structures are prone to insect damage and concrete, block, or brick just seems too permanent and labor intensive.  What if you could make a raised garden in a matter of minutes that re-uses common materials that are free and readily available?  This blog entry will tell you how to do just that.  I have used this system to grow herbs and tomatoes in the desert heat of the Phoenix metropolitan area and I'm sure it would work in just about anywhere a raised garden is desired.  It can be "jazzed up" to look very "gardenesque" if a less industrial appearance is desired.
Materials Needed:
  • 2 used tires
  • river rock
  • top soil
  • herbs (plantings or seeds)
  • Optional - charcoal 
  • Optional - garden border fence
For this project my girlfriend Gena and I raided a local river preserve.  We were able to find 2 tires after a flash flood last year and with some work an sweat we were able to wrestle the carcasses to my truck.  The removal of used tire carcasses from the preserve made this project doubly "green."

Level a spot and lay one of the tires down.  Fill this first tire with rock; river rock works great, but just about anything will do, even left over ABC from that last project.  Be sure to completely fill the tire - shoving rock into the tire interior will be necessary to fill the space between the tire bead and the upper sidewall.  Gloves certainly help with hand protection here, especially if there are undiscovered spikes, screws, or nails in the tire.

The second tire gets placed directly on top of the first.  It helps if both tires are the same size but if they differ somewhat that's OK, and it doesn't matter which one goes on top.  This top tire gets filled with soil.  I have found those water holding crystals, poly-acrylates, help the planter retain moisture.  I don't know how the "organic food" movement views these, but if you use them be sure to follow the package instructions. While a little bit is good, a lot will cause your planter to rise up like a loaf of quick bread as all those tiny crystals absorb water and become huge.  Water the soil in well, so that it compacts and then add more soil to bring the level where you want it.  As an option, I have used tires that have the sidewall cut off and this provides a larger planting surface.  Placing a layer of charcoal (the type you'd use for a barbecue but NOT the self starting kind) will "sweeten" the soil and help with plant growth.

Congratulations!  You are done and your planter is ready for seed or transplants.  If a set of stacked tires in your back yard has too much of a "junk yard," you can purchase a length of that garden border fence product at your local home improvement store.  Simply wrap the fence around the tires - the tires disappear and your raised garden takes on a cottage farm appearance.  How much do you need?  You can simply measure the distance across the tire, multiply by 3, and round up.

Black tires will keep the root zone of your plants warm, so you may find that you can plant up to a month earlier.  Take care in the summer not to let the system bake dry.

My favorite herbs for this planter?  Basil, rosemary, dill, and mint are all easily grown.  What do you do with those once you're able to pick them?  That will be the topic of my next post... some delicious, fast, easy, and healthy recipes that require herbs.  Maybe readers, if there are any, will have some to share, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment