For a creative twist on raised bed or container garden, give old vintage bathtubs a try! Vintage tubs add instant charm and character to outdoor garden areas. With many different shapes and sizes to choose from at local thrift stores, flea markets, and antique boutiques, vintage bathtubs are on our gardening must have lists for this upcoming garden season.
We’ve set out to share a few vintage tub gardening ideas to help wake up that green thumb and get your gardens planned. Here are three easy steps to planting your bathtub garden. The bathtub sets forth great space and good drainage, making a great planting container. Here’s what you need to know:
Step 1: Plant Selection for Bathtub Gardens
Since vintage tubs are small compared to an average garden plot, consider filling yours with your smaller, simpler garden items. If you plant larger plants, like tomatoes, limit the number of plants to give them space.
Imagine planting just your salad greens for a specialty garden in a tub. Or, in addition to your salad greens, grow a salad garden by adding a few carrot plants and some space saving tomato varieties along with those greens. An herb garden makes a happy companion to an old tub garden, and a simple flower garden planted in a vintage tub easily becomes the highlight of a garden landscape.
Step 2: Set Up Bathtub as a Raised Bed
Once you’ve decided what to plant, you’ll want to carefully consider how to prepare your vintage tub for ultimate garden success. Placement of your tub is important. Vegetables need a sunny location, so if you’re hoping for a bumper crop, place your tub in a location where it will receive full sun. On the other hand, certain flowers wilt in the heat of the day and will need a little shade. Plan the placement of your tub according to the needs of your plants.
Drainage plays a key role in the goal of gardening success. Many old tubs will have a drain, but some galvanized metal tubs will not. You can drill holes into the bottoms of galvanized metal tubs to provide the necessary drainage.
For additional drainage in a vintage tub, purchase a bag or two of lava rock or drainage rock. Spread a layer of the rock several inches deep over the bottom of the tub. You can slope your rock layer by angling the layer of rock down toward the drain.
After you’ve addressed the drainage of your vintage tub, your important next step will be to fill the bulk area of the tub. Before you buy bags and bags of expensive soil though, consider using inexpensive filler for some of the empty space in your vintage tub. Vegetables and plants require a soil depth of eight inches at most. Since vintage tubs are deep, fill some of that empty space with Styrofoam packaging peanuts or another space filler you have around the house or yard.
Step 3: Plant the Bathtub Garden
After you’ve layered rocks for drainage and filled in some of the extra space, a proper mix of soil is essential. Plants need air as well as water. Well draining soil helps create the right balance of the two. For containers, an appropriate soil mix involves a one third portion of garden soil, one third part compost, and a third part peat moss. Mix these three together well in a wheelbarrow. Fill your vintage tub to within a two inches of the rim with the soil mix.
When you place your plants in the soil, make sure each gets enough space to grow. Consider your plants’ estimated mature size, and allow for plenty of elbowroom. Avoid overcrowding.
Finally, water your new plants. For the first watering, moisten the soil thoroughly. Allow the water to soak into the deeper soil and down to the roots. Then moisten the soil again until the top layer of soil stays moist. Keep your new plants well watered for the first couple of weeks. Then, depending on your plants, scale back to a regular daily or even weekly watering schedule.
Get to know the plants in your vintage tub well. They will tell you when they need more water by wilting or looking a bit droopy. Not watering enough is easier to fix than overwatering, so know the needs of your plants and plan for a healthy watering schedule.
With these handy tips and ideas, you’re sure to have a successful and enjoyable vintage tub garden!
Want to learn more about easy raised beds and cheap container gardens?
See these helpful resources:
Cheap Gardening Containers: How to Find and Use Them
Is It Safe to Use Styrofoam in Planters for Vegetables?