Garden In A Barrel

"A lot of people want to have a garden but don't have enough space. Barrel gardening may be the answer, even if you only have a few square feet to work with," says Nathaniel Burson of Big Sandy, Texas.

He's come up with a low-cost system that lets you convert used plastic barrels into highly productive container gardens.

"Lettuce, beets, carrots, strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, and many other kinds of plants can be grown in barrels. You can grow practically an entire garden in just one barrel," says Burson.

The idea is to make "pockets" around the outside of the barrel, and then fill it with soil. Plants grow in the pockets and also on top. The bottom of the barrel is punctured to create drainage.

To make the pockets a heat gun is used to heat the plastic, then a saw is used to cut 6-in. long slits at intervals into the barrel. A specially cut wooden brace is then wedged into each slit to make the pocket. Once the plastic cools down the braces can be pulled out.

"The beauty of this system is that every available square foot is used," says Burson. "A 30-gal. barrel will produce enough lettuce for the average family to have a salad a couple times a week. The barrels can even be stacked on top of each other for more efficient use of space.

"A 55-gal. barrel will hold 72 plants on the outside and a lot more on top. If you're really cramped for space, you can also use plastic 5-gal. buckets," says Burson.

To make the barrel gardens easy to water, he inserts a piece of pvc pipe down the center of the barrel with holes drilled into it.

Burson sells an instructional Plans/DVD set that shows in detail how to make a barrel garden.