Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DIY project: planter barrels

This is kind of an obvious and easy DIY. It's just a project that's been on my list for almost three years now. Crazy. I am a crazy procrastinator.

Mom gave me these barrels three years ago. I have no idea where she got them, but since she did, they were probably quite a steal (because she never buys anything unless it's on clearance).

I've been intending to make planters out of them since I got them, but I couldn't decide where to put them. And that is the one and only reason they've been on my procrastination list. I thought it would be smarter to figure out where I wanted them before planting them since they'd be heavier when full of dirt. And moving them seemed like work compounded since I'd definitely have to empty them in order to do it.

So what have I been doing with them so far? I've been keeping crap lawn junk inside them as storage. As soon as we got some rain and both barrels filled with water and all of my lawn junk became sunken treasure, I used them as make-shift tables for tomato plants by turning them upside-down. As soon as some wasps thought the inside of them would be the most perfect place to build a nest, I nervously fumigated them and turned them on their side in a corner.

After the wave of mosquitos this spring, I finally decided not to convert one of the barrels into a small water feature (another reason for my procrastination), got out the drill and made some holes. For drainage. Cuz like I mentioned earlier, these don't look like they'd hold an ounce of water, but they totally do. So if you find yourself with some half wine barrels and want to make them into planters, you're going to have to drill holes.

I don't know what size my drill bit was either, I just chose the largest we had. The reason I drilled so many holes is because I felt that the largest we had wasn't large enough.

Obviously, if you can, try to put the barrels where you want them before filling. These two aren't going to be on our deck forever, but it's fine for this summer. They're out of the way but close enough for easy watering and I like that we can see them out the window. I know this goes against my idea of placing them in their permanent home before filling them, but I won't have a better idea of where to put them permanently until they put the grass in and we get a fence up.

I've finally decided that I'm ok with moving them later. It'll be a drag, but I shouldn't be so lazy as to limit myself on plants this year because of it. Honestly, if it weren't for these barrels, I'd have absolutely no where to plant and barely any greenery this year at all. I HAD to plant them for my mental well-being.

Next, I filled half of each barrel with perlite. Do you have to? No; So why did I? Long answer: Because mom gave me a humongous body-pillow sized bag of it when she gave me the barrels and then some stupid little creature felt it necessary to chew a hole in the bag and then water got into the bag and then the bag weighed more than a small truck. So I've been tripping over, stepping around, and getting strong men to move this bag for long enough. I can't tell you how satisfying it was as I slowly emptied it by the scoop-full into buckets and hauled them from the garage until the bag was light enough for me to carry. Short answer: I didn't know how else to dispose of it and I just wanted to get it out of my life forever.

There are so many different types of dirt to choose from these days! Geeze! I was overwhelmed and I didn't know which would be best so I thought back to my life on a cattle ranch. Composted steer manure was the only dirt we ever used, and everything we ever planted grew amazingly with no help from fertilizers. So that's why I chose it. It's probably not the best dirt for seeds, I realize now, because it's a little clumpy. But they won't be seeds for long and I don't plan on using seeds every year so whatever. My philosophy when it comes to planting things is that if they are determined to grow, they will. I'm not worried.

Now all that's left is the fun part of planting. My future plans for the barrels will involve moving them to the front yard and planting them with cactus and succulents. I'll probably paint the outsides to match the house a little better, too. Until then, they're going to act as a garden, so in one I've put all of my herbs (purple and sweet basil, oregano, parsley, and mint) and the other I have vegetables (spinach, lettuce, carrots, and radish). I was going to plant my tomatoes in them, too, but I didn't think there was enough room (since I almost always buy way too many each year). They'll be going into individual pots as usual.

I'll keep you updated on everything's progress!

if you need more diys to ponder, the list is here


Laeli said...

They are going to look gorgeous when things start to grow.

GALaxy said...

The radishes have already thrown back the dirt and pushed their way out. It hasn't even been a whole week yet. I actually stopped and thought about how best to plant everything (tallest to shortest), so I'm hoping that looks as pretty as I envision it!

erika said...

What a great project - planting is such great fun. I can't wait to see how it looks when everything starts growing!

Deborah said...

these are great!!