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If space is at a premium, and you want to get a visually striking pot, you can use a wine barrel. This can be ideal for growing vegetables. The deep barrels will allow them to grow strong roots. But how do you grow vegetables in a wine barrel?
The good news is that you don’t need a lot of gardening experience, you will just need a few basic tools. Keep reading to learn the 8 best tips to turn your wine barrel garden into a success.
What Can You Grow in a Wine Barrel?
Let’s start by narrowing down what you should be planting. The good news is that the size and depth of the barrels give you plenty of options to choose from. You will be able to turn it into an herb garden. There will be enough space for multiple herb species. You can even add in some edible flowers, to give it a little more color.
There are plenty of vegetables that you will be able to cultivate in a wine barrel. Some of these choices can include:
If you want, you will even have enough space for small trees to take up roots. Some popular options are citrus or olives.
When deciding which plants you should grow, there are a few things that you should consider. These include:
- Weather conditions. You need to pick species that will be able to cope with your climate.
- Where you are putting the barrel. You need something that will match the style of the area. For example, if you want to put it in the kitchen, it can be good to grow herbs. That way you have seasonings at hand when cooking. If you want to put it in the backyard, it might be best to have a tree, so it has space to grow.
- Amount of work. If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to the garden, it will be best to get something easy, like herbs.
Preparing the Wine Barrel
Once you know what you want to grow, it’s time to get your wine barrel ready. If you purchased it from a garden center, you won’t need to do anything. It will be ready for you to start adding plants. But if you purchased it directly from the vineyard, you will need to clean it out. These barrels will contain residue from making the wine.
If you aren’t sure what type of barrel you have, you can smell it. If it hasn’t been cleaned properly it will have a strong aroma.
Cleaning a barrel for your garden can take a lot of time. You’ll need to follow these steps:
- Spray it with a high-pressure hose
- Scrub with non-ionized salt
- Fill with a mixture of potash and water
- Leave to stand for a week. This should remove a lot of the residue.
- Empty the barrel and inspect. You might need to repeat this process multiple times before it will be clean enough for your garden.
Finding the Right Soil
The next thing that you will need to do is find the right type of soil. This will depend on the type of plants you want to establish. It’s best to look at the NPK content on the package, to make sure it has the right mix of nutrients.
It’s often best to get a premium potting mix. This will slowly release the nutrients over time. Often, it will be enough to sustain your plants for several months.
Usually, you’ll need to get around four bags of potting mix to fill up a half-wine barrel.
Where to Position Your Wine Barrel Garden
Where you decide to put your wine barrel garden will often depend on the type of plants you are growing. Most importantly, consider the amount of sunlight that will be getting. If you aren’t sure what type of conditions will suit your plants the best, you might want to talk to the experts at your local nursery.
It’s best to get your wine barrel in position before you start filling it with soil. It will be heavy enough on its own, without the added weight of soil and plants.
Adding the Plants
When it comes time to add the plants, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure that they adjust quickly to their new home. First, you will need to break up the root ball a little. This will make it easier for them to establish a strong root system in the soil.
You’ll also need to give them plenty of water and nutrients. You should make sure that you leave a small indentation around the stem of the plant, rather than a mound of dirt. This will make it easier for water to penetrate the soil.
One of the biggest problems with growing plants in a wine barrel is retaining moisture in the soil. Remember, these barrels have been designed to store liquids, so they won’t have any drainage at all. Thankfully, this is a fairly easy issue to solve. All you need to do is drill some holes in the base of the barrel. It’s a good idea to add a grate over the holes. This will stop the soil from falling out.
You might also want to add a layer of pea gravel to the base. This will encourage the water to filter out of the soil.
Retaining Moisture in the Soil
Once you have finished adding in drainage holes, you will often find a new problem. It’s common for you to find that you are struggling to retain moisture in the soil. You can tell when the soil has become dry by sticking your finger into it. If you put it in a few inches, you should be able to feel some moisture.
It’s important to add a little extra water when you first add the plants. This will make it easier for them to adjust to their new environment and create a strong root system.
There are a few ways that you can solve this problem, these options include:
- Sprinkler systems. These are often programmed to keep dripping water into the soil. While effective, these systems can often be quite expensive.
- Water more deeply. This is the easiest solution. By watering deeply, it ensures that the moisture will travel through the whole soil.
- Using water crystals. These can be found in most hardware stores. You will be able to add them to the soil. They will then suck up the moisture, releasing it over a prolonged period.
Using Plenty of Nutrients
Another common issue is that you will find that the nutrients are starting to get depleted. As you are needing to add more moisture, they can get washed away. There are a few ways you can deal with this problem:
- Use a premium potting mix. They are designed to release their nutrients over several months.
- Blood meal or seaweed spray. These will sustain your garden for a few weeks to months. Check the instructions.
- Water-soluble fertilizer. These are best used in conjunction with a long-lasting slow-release fertilizer. Water-soluble options will allow you to send the nutrients directly to the roots.
- Adding compost. Compost is rich in nutrients, making it a good alternative to slow-release fertilizer. You just need to be careful about the amount you are using. Add too much and you risk burning the plants.
Wine barrels are both a stylish and practical option for your garden. They are very easy to install and get set up. Then, you just need to make sure that the plants are getting the right mix of water, nutrients, and sunlight. If you can do this, it will be easy to grow vegetables in a wine barrel.