A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: Ideas for planting a Wheelbarrow Nursery

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17 May 2014

Ideas for planting a Wheelbarrow Nursery

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I love an old wheelbarrow.  This particular guy doesn't roll anymore and has duct tape holding the front wheel together. You can see it if you look closely on the left there.  No worries -- we will just cover that with hosta.  You see, a nice old wheelbarrow is metal and solid and holds a great big amount of soil.  Most planters cannot boast those charms and rarely are big planters free.  Wheelbarrows however, are easily found once they have given up the ghost on carting around gardening supplies.  Who are we to say it cannot be put out to pasture and finish its life out in peace?  "Not I", says the conscientious and industrious Little Black Hen. (see below: Her name was Cottonball and she is Polish and no longer with us.  The wheelbarrow however has endured. Says something for its longetivity, no?)

A wheelbarrow makes the perfect seedling starter.  Pile her high with soil and compost, site the barrow right near your kitchen or your seed storage and check on her often.  Once the seedlings are large enough, transplant them to a more permanent part of the garden.  Make sure to give them good labels because any seed blowing by will jump at the chance to grow in this hussy environment -- talk about fertile and available!

Perhaps you would rather fill her high with lettuce or some other quick cutting crop? Crisp, fresh greens...

Purple Basil perhaps?  Let it go to seed and you will get a second crop!

Note: the empty wheelbarrows are growing seedlings in my home garden.
The "lettuceful" barrows are found in a great garden I had the chance to document for Houzz -- see the full tour HERE.

Here are a few of my favorite crops to grow in an abandoned wheelbarrow:

Lettuce -- looseleaf forms, purples, greens, butters, all of them
Herbs -- Cilantro, Italian parsley and Curly Parsley are all easy
Perennial Herbs -- Lemon Balm looks very nice in a short clump atop a wheelbarrow
Seedlings -- Pea starts, tomato starts and certainly any squash, pumpkins or watermelons
Flowers -- For a long, flat surface like this trailing plants used for hanging baskets are nice :)

To be honest,  a nice old wheelbarrow is cute with flowers, but is far more functional when growing edibles and starting seeds.  That of course is only my opinion.

Tips for a Growing Wheelbarrow

Make sure the wheel is at least half buried.  If it starts to roll, the whole thing will tip over and out.
You also want to dig the back portion of the brrow into the ground and secure with a little mulch.
Consider drainage holes in the bottom or a rain protected area.  The barrow can flood easily.
Label, Label and Label again.  You will absolutely forget what you have planted and if it is edible.

Thanks to my sister in law Kate for the cute chalkboard stakes :)
You can paint your own paint stirrers for a similar look or just pop one of these on a stick.

Now get out a find a barrow, why don't you?
There is one that needs saving and she is waiting on YOU.

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