First step: I purchased 3 authentic wine barrels from France. OK, actually I got them locally but originally they were from France -- it says so right on the bottom:) Second step: my wonderful, sweet and very patient hubby drilled 5 holes in the bottom of the barrels with some help from his 'lovely' assistant--me. These, as I am sure you have guessed, are for drainage. No one wants floating plants...well unless you are going with an aquatic garden which some people use these barrels for. But we have the ponds for that ...
Third step: at that same wonderful, sweet and very long suffering hubby's suggestion, I used some gutter (?) screening to cover the hole instead of the window screening suggested by one site. It did the job and was easier then cutting a big circle of the fiberglass window screening I had bought; besides we need to replace the screen on a sliding patio door (sorry no photo as I had both hands busy)Fourth step: together we filled the barrels with planting mix; it took about 3 cubic feet for each one. I so love the feel and the smell of planting mix!!! And there are no weeds in it, it is formulated just perfectly for this type of gardening and --- it is just so earthy and nice. BTW--we did not feel the barrels all the way to the top; the soil line is several inches from the top.
Still to buy: lavender (probably 'Munstead') and mints (would like Orange mint, a GOOD peppermint--I have only found one and may transplant some of that) and maybe 'Hillary's Sweet Lemon Mint'--if I can find it). All of these will go into containers -- although we let our mints spread in the garden--I want some on the deck just to nuzzle up to. Yea, I love my mints that much:). I will probably buy a few more herbs too--would love to try chervil and maybe dill. We will see---my hubby says no more wine barrels on the deck; this despite the fact that he builds everything to surpass building codes! I am thinking the area near the deck will do nicely for two or three more barrels.
- As I have read in a few places, and as common sense would dictate, please make sure your deck or balcony can support the weight of a filled barrel (or barrels) without causing damage. These things, as my toe sadly found out, are heavy-heavy-heavy...and that was an empty barrel. Ouch. I checked with my hubby to make sure they would be fine on our deck.
- If you are going to move the container later make sure you allow for that; ours are meant to stay where they are so no caddy or casters on them.
- Make sure your container plants will coexist nicely--in terms of sun exposure, soil, water needs, possible diseases, etc. Some of my herbs will have to be moved in time and I wouldn't plant my tomatoes with my strawberries.
- The oak of these barrels is thick and hard. Have a good drill and drill bit handy (we used a Makita and a 1 inch drill bit for wood)
- Shop around. I called three different places and saved quite a bit of money by doing that. While you are at it--do the same for planting mix.
- Method should work for many urban and rural gardeners like me. Good for many veggies and other plants; check your root depth (many are less then 12 inches).
- One of the reasons I chose the current location for these barrels was its great location: close proximity to a water source, close to our grill, outdoor table and the home.
- As I have said before --- I am not an expert on any subject, just a fellow garden lover:) Research and draw your own conclusions. Half the fun is in the dreaming and the other half is in making that dream come true!