Growing Vegetables at Home in a Barrel 101

When I went to visit Pete in the Langeberge, he generously sent me home with a few bags of super-duper organic seeds. I dutifully procrastinated for a week or so and then decided to get my act together. The seeds certainly weren’t going to sow themselves!

Since my garden is already full and I had no idea what to remove to make space for this project, I decided to use one of the half wine barrels on my patio. However, I had to clear it out first. I got some good potting soil to fill it up with, that I bought from a place of which I cannot remember the name (it’s just off Winery Road behind the garden centre), but the bag on the photograph cost me R48.

So, I cleaned out the barrel first because I had a lot of junk in there, such as a few broken ceramic pots (will be glued together still), some plastic seed trays that need a new home (did you know that some nurseries will take them off your hands for their new seedlings?), a jar of bird feed, an oil lamp (rusted) and some plant food containers. And a living rat. I’m not sure who had a bigger fright, but he gave me one look and escaped into Hotel Fantastico, the palm tree in front of my patio, before I could take a photo of him! Thank heavens he didn’t escape into my house!

I also did a terrible thing and poured a big heap  of soil on a very hungry-looking spider. Buried the poor critter. So, I’m obviously still not quite over all the spiders that share my abode with me.

I scooped up some of the soil next to the vineyard and made this the base layer in my pot, along with some pebbles to help with drainage. Next, I added a substantial amount of potting soil from the pink bag, some of my own, home-grown compost (proud moment!), mixed it around with my hands (yeah … soily fingernails!), and then a thin layer of bone meal on top of that, followed by a thin layer of soil to cover the bone meal.

On top of this, I scattered some spinach and pumpkin seeds and covered them with a loose layer of potting soil, about 1-2 cm deep. Do not pat this layer down – it compacts the soil and makes it more difficult for the little seedlings to break through and have their “Tada!” moment. And then, lastly, I took my watering can, poured in some organic plant food, filled it to the brim with water and emptied this mixture out onto the whole business in the barrel. I wanted to be sure that not only the top layer was wet, but that the soil was soaked through for about 10 cm, to help with those days that would be hotter than usual.

Lastly, I was sure to water the seeds (and soon-to-be seedlings) twice every day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Much like taking your meds. I didn’t drown them, but it is vital that they do not dry out at this stage. Otherwise you may as well not bother. Once they germinate, they’re alive and kicking and more fragile than in their seed form.

By now, six weeks or so later, I have planted them out. The pumpkin seedlings went into the garden proper (I finally managed to decide on some plants to clear out). They were wilted for a few days, but are now on the recover from this process. The spinach seedlings needed more sun, so they went into movable pots, and are thankfully looking much better! So, note to self, do more research about location before sowing next time. It will save time, effort and most likely result in more seeds germinating and surviving.

Now, while I wait for Mother Nature to do her stuff, I need to start studying my recipe books!

Let me know if you have any sowing tips or advice in the comments section.

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One thought on “Growing Vegetables at Home in a Barrel 101

  1. Pingback: How to Eat a Coach | The Tangled Pretzel

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