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55 gallon plastic drums for raised bed gardening?

Posted by californian 10 (My Page) on
Fri, May 4, 07 at 2:39

Someone is selling 55 gallon plastic drums for $5 each and I was thinking of buying them. Here is my plan. Cut each drum into three slices. This would give me for each drum one section with a bottom on it and two sections which would just be the walls of the drum with no top or bottom, and would be about 15 inches high each. I have terrible clay soil and was thinking of making raised beds using the sections with no tops and bottoms. Just lay them on the ground and fill with potting mix. The drainage would just be the dirt underneath, and if roots grew into the clay so much the better. I was thinking if I bought maybe 20 drums I could make 40 individual planters each about two feet in diameter, and still have 20 large pots left that I could use for storage or even sell to recoup part of my cost. For example I would plant one tomato plant in each ring. What do you think of my idea?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: 55 gallon plastic drums for raised bed gardening?

Seems workable to me.

RE: 55 gallon plastic drums for raised bed gardening?

  • Posted by donn_ 7a, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Fri, May 4, 07 at 11:05

It's a good idea, and a great price.

There are lots of other uses for them as well.

Two of them, with some weighty stuff in the bottom, and a sheet of 3/4" plywood over the top makes a workable work/potting bench.

Store potting mix and soil amendments in them.

Make buried bog gardens out of them.

Use them as Bamboo barriers.

Just make sure there wasn't/isn't anything noxious in them.

RE: 55 gallon plastic drums for raised bed gardening?

  • Posted by el34 Z7 NC (My Page) on
    Sat, May 5, 07 at 17:38

Wow, nice.
Wish I could get my hands on some of those drums.
Besides planting stuff in them you could save rain water, make compost in them, etc.

Hope they didn't have agent orange in them at one time.

RE: 55 gallon plastic drums for raised bed gardening?

Well, the guy just delivered 16 barrels to me. They are 200 liter (52.85 gallon) and had been used to store powdered dextrose (sugar) and are very clean and look almost new. I measured them and they are 36 inches high and 22.5 inches in diameter.
Question, would it be better to cut them in half giving me 18 inch high sections or cut them into thirds giving me 12 inch high sections?
I haven't tried it yet but I assume I could cut them with a regular hand wood saw, or if that didn't work I could use my power jig saw or my sawsall.
BTW, I checked on the internet to see what these barrels sell for and new or used they go for around $50 to $60 each plus shipping so I think I got a pretty good deal on them.
Another advantage of this plan I have that I didn't mention is I live on a hill and have almost no level spots to garden on. But I figure I could level little 23 inch diameter spots all over the hillside and set my planter rings on them, This would solve my watering problem. Right now I can't deep water because the water all runs downhill unless I build little earthen dikes to stop it. But those dikes make it hard to mow the yard.

RE: 55 gallon plastic drums for raised bed gardening?

  • Posted by el34 Z7 NC (My Page) on
    Tue, May 8, 07 at 7:18

I would do 18" cut in half sections.

12" deep may be fine but you could bury the 18" ones just a bit to keep them in place.

A jig saw with a course wood cutting bit will give you a better cut than with a hand saw. The hand saw is going to wander and produce a bad cut.

RE: 55 gallon plastic drums for raised bed gardening?

  • Posted by nixonk 5 (Chicago) (My Page) on
    Tue, May 8, 07 at 13:53

I would cut some in half and some in thirds. The deeper ones will make perfect water gardens so you can plant lilies and stuff. The options are endless. Good luck!

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