Skip to main content

Getting Started: Wine Barrel Planters

Gardening in a small, urban space requires a bit of creativity.  Our challenges are many: buildings & trees frequently block sunlight;  various critters like to snack on new seedlings and just ripe fruits & vegetables; and here in San Mateo, irrigation is a must.  To increase your probability of gardening success, consider adding recycled wine barrels into your urban garden.   

Having tried many types of growing containers over the years, the wine barrel has made it to the top of my list.  My galvanized tubs always seemed to need more water than wooden barrels - perhaps due to the different heating/cool properties of the metal vs. wood?  Aesthetically, a recycled barrel looks like it's been there for years - which I love.  And the smell!  There is no comparison.

Cost is definitely a consideration.  A wine barrel at Home Depot is $40 whereas a 35 gallon galvanized tub is $55.  You might say that growing in the ground is $0.00 - but in some locations, the extra 18 inches off of the ground that a container gives can be the difference between no sunlight and hours of sunlight - or the difference between photosynthesis and no photosynthesis - which is a pretty big deal in trying to grow plants.

Another thing to consider is protection.  Squirrels, rats and gophers are a San Matean gardener's nemesis - particularly this winter for some reason.  All of these fury friends can quickly destroy your best growing efforts.  The elevation of a barrel + a fabric covering is a very good deterrent to rodent snacking.

While moving a barrel filled with planting material takes some effort, the option of relocating the barrel in your garden allows you to find the most optimal growing spaces.  A few years back I planted a meyer lemon tree in a barrel too close to the house.  Moving it out from the house has greatly increased the amount of sun exposure it gets - making for a much happier lemon tree.

Most important is what you put into the barrel.  Starting out with a crushed rock base layer is key to keeping the right moisture level in the container.  Then add a good soil mixture.  I prefer the Lyngso (our local garden materials provider in San Mateo) veggie blend - which contains sandy loam, compost with turkey manure and redwood sawdust.  I've used this in all of my raised beds and just love the result.  Good soil is worthy investment.

Here's the install process in a quick video:

Believe me, there's always room for another wine barrel planter!  And now is a great time to reconfigure your growing spaces and take advantage of the recent rain showers.

Be well & GROW.

-Bill S. 


Popular posts from this blog

Peaches and more

Yesterday we handed out the sweetest of peaches thanks to a generous donation from Circle Foot Permaculture .   Along with the quarts of peaches, we also provided Samaritan House Food Pharmacy clients a handout with nutritional information on peaches - how they impact your blood sugar - and a recipe for a Roasted Peach Parfait.  Here are links to the handout: Nutritional Spotlight: Peaches (English) Nutritional Spotlight: Peaches (Spanish) It all seems somewhat routine at this point:  gather donations of locally grown produce quickly pull together helpful nutritional information based on the week's donations In retrospect, this is the culmination of 3 years of effort to create a network of local gardeners, foragers and volunteers - with a goal of becoming a reliable source of fresh produce for lower income families struggling with diabetes and other health disorders.    While it has been known for some time that eating fruits & vegetables can positively impact a person's he

The December Garden

Snap Peas (& a garden gnome!) Beresford Park Community Garden December 15, 2021 It's hard to describe just how good the winter gardening is in San Mateo.  While most gardens across the country have long gone into a frosty hibernation - we're, at long last,  getting the rain we've been without for the last 9 months or more.  It's finally time to turn off the irrigation systems and let Mother Nature do her thing.  The new moisture is creating a full-on nutrient soup that flows through our soil, fueling an explosion of activity within the soil food web.   Fungal activity is pushing mushrooms to the surface.  Our favorite spring flowers of nasturtium, poppies, sweat peas, borage and yarrow are in a race to establish their growing territory.  And, thankfully, the newly moist soil makes pulling up oxalis, mallow and bindweed sprouts a bit easier. As you would expect, plants thriving now in the garden were initially planted out in the fall.  Those crowns of cauliflower and