DIY Stock Tank Gardens Part 1

If you haven’t checked out my IG feed, I posted some pictures of my stock tank garden beds.

These took a couple weeks to build and assemble. I purchased the stock tanks on sale at Tractor Supply Company. I originally wanted to go with the 2×4 tanks, but the size and sale price of 2×6 tanks made them too attractive to pass up. Of course, their size meant we had to rent a truck to haul them home. Luckily, we still had other yard projects that required the rent-a-truck to transport supplies.

Due to their size, I knew these tanks had to be mobile. Especially when filled with soil and water, they’d be a challenge to move around on my patio. I purchased 3/8 carriage bolts, heavy duty casters off Amazon and some waterproof stain. The stain was to seal the lumber on which the casters would be mounted. Finally I had to wait a week to get in an order of 5/16 galvanized threaded bolts, washers and hex nuts…because none of the local home improvement shops had sufficient quantities in stock to buy.

While I waited for the hardware to arrive, I drilled drainage holes in the bottom of the tanks. This required some titanium bits and some wrist strength, as drilling into steel can cause the drill to torque. I then marked out the area where the casters would be mounted. I was banking that 2 pieces of lumber would be enough to support these tanks upright.

I then secured the lumber to stock tanks using 3/8 carriage bolts, washers and hex nuts. Once the 5/16 hardware arrived, I was then able to drill and secure the casters to the lumber.

I then sealed the lumber and the inside of the stock tanks with silicone to prevent water seeping into or leaking into wood. It’s important to have the lumber last as long as possible since I depend on these supports to move these tanks around the yard and patio.

Once everything was drilled and sealed into place, it was time to get the tanks onto the casters and filled.

I lined the bottom with leftover landscape fabric then threw in 2 bags of lawn trimmings and cuttings. Afterwards, I layered in organic raised bed soil, compost, vermiculite, peat moss and perlite, adjusting as needed to get proper drainage. It’s quite an upper body workout to till and turn the soil media,

Sprinkled in some Espoma Organic Garden-Tone fertilizer then it’s off to planting veggies! By the way, this seeding square is awesome for spacing out new plants!

 

Seeding square–nifty!

I had quite a number of dill, kale, lettuce, broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower starts, along with some lettuce seedlings I began indoors. In between the rows, I also stuck some garlic cloves, which took no time to sprout. Unfortunately I have way too many plants to fit in one of these tanks, if I stuck to the square-foot gardening method.

With one bed planted, I realized my new starts needed a little more sun. So I moved them to the east side of the pergola. Even with casters, the tank was almost too heavy to move on my own! I’d like to get more of these stock tanks, but size and mobility are definitely going to be deciding factors…likely I’d go with the smaller tanks next time.

Stay tuned for stock tank #2 details!

Nasturtiums! November Seed Starting Adventures

Nasturtium seeds: Alaska, Jewel and Black Velvet
I’m bound and determined to grow nasturtiums this year. I had some old packets of Alaska Variegated, but turns out they were too old to germinate. So I picked up several packets at Calloway’s and online from Amazon. While seed shopping I also picked up Spinach and Lettuce seeds, along with bunching onions, chives, marigolds and coneflower seeds. I’m also looking forward to my order from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds, consisting of baby bok and Chinese broccoli, coming soon! As it turns out, my last seed starting venture left me with a lot of unsprouted soil blocks: arugula, spinach, bok choy, and various types of basil. Cleaning out the old seeds from my collection turned out to be a simple matter of dumping packets into wet paper towels and storing them in plastic zip lock bags. No surprise here…well except for a single spinach seed that germinated. It just wasn’t worth the effort to keep it. I also started another flat of soil blocks. The Parris Cos lettuce germinated within a few days. I’m hoping that the basils germinate. I also broke out the fenugreek seeds and sowed them in a pot. I purchased these seeds from Amazon pantry a few years ago, which sold them as spices. But whole fenugreek can also grown from these spice seeds. Even as sprouts, they are very fragrant. If this batch of soil blocks fails to produce any basil, I may have to run them all through the paper towel method. I’m still hopeful I’ll get some to germinate. Stay tuned.

Soil block adventures

Thanks to Prime Day, I picked up a soil blocker. I’m on my way to seed starting and cultivating plants in soil blocks.

This meant also making my own seed starting mix, something that I’ve been wanting to do ever since pandemic gardening switched into full gear. I came up with my own DIY mix with media I was able to collect locally.

  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part organic raised garden soil (Miracle Gro)
  • 1 part organic compost
  • 1-2 handfuls of organic plant food (Espoma Garden Tone)

I used a 1 gallon ice cream plastic container to bucket out my portions into a seed tray and began mixing away.

Realizing that mixing this media in a shallow tray would result in a mess and lots of wastage, I made sure to create a 2nd batch in a stainless steel full size steam pan. We were previously experimenting with high sided steam pans to double as litter trays, but decided it was impractical to keep lidless trays with dogs roaming about looking for “kitty treats”.

Those high sides made it easy to contain the soil mix that turns to slush once you add water. Then it’s just a matter of finding the right jig/dance with the soil blocker to pack the slushy mix and eject the molded blocks.

I forgot to measure the amount of water added to the mix. I was mainly trying to go by feel…so some of my extruded blocks ended up a little crumblier than the next batch. So it’s trial and error for now until I come up with a system that I’m satisfied with and produces the desired results: mainly healthy seedlings.

By the 3rd day, radish, lettuce and kohlrabi seedlings popped up. Success!