I ran across a novel idea for urban gardens (not that I won’t try it on the farm as well). This may also work great for school gardens as well. One of the banes of suburban existence is the leaky kiddie wading pool. Well, esteemed soil scientice Joel Gruver at Western Illinois, documented a great way to turn them into gardens. I’m sure of all the research and outreach Joel has done in soil science, he’d like nothing more that to be immortalized on the high hopes blog as the person who brought kiddie pool gardens to the readers of this blog! Check out the many pictures of Joel’s pools with actual before and after photos at his flickr page.
The first step is to gather the ingredients. I went to our nearest municipal composting facility to get a utility trailer load of compost (it’s free there!) I mixed some for this project and spread the rest elsewhere. Here, I filled a couple of 5 gallon buckets about 2/3 full of compost.
I bought some bagged sand ($1.50 a bag) to make a 2:1 mix of compost and sand. I filled the buckets that were 2/3 filled with compost with sand to the top. If you were doing a larger area, a trip to the local gravel pit and pickup may be more thrifty.
I didn’t have any old leaky kiddie pools, so I just cut a 55 gallon plastic barrel in half, drilled some extra drain holes in the bottom and mixed the sand and compost in here. Just for reference, filling these two halves of a barrel used 12 five gallon buckets (about 3 bags of sand and the rest compost).
One advantage of this technique is that the crops are relatively weed free – so are excellent for hard to weed crops like carrots – which are destined for these barrels. I placed them close to the rain collection tank for easy watering. I’ll report back later in summer on the results. As a bonus, if it works, and after the soil media tires out, I have many low spots that could use fill, so I’ll refill them and start over again!