Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

Mixing Tub Garden

One of my garden experiments was the idea of using plastic tubs designed for mixing concrete as a container garden. I knew that they were going to be marginally shallow, being only about 8 – 9 inches deep, but I read in Mel Bartholomew’s book 1, All New Square Foot Gardening book that 6″ of good soil was plenty. Wrong. While small plants did well in this when they were young, as they grew larger, their roots were drawing all the moisture out of the limited volume of growing mixture. I followed “Mel’s Mix” to the letter, and later soil testing showed it to be far too “hot” for garden use. In addition, I followed the plant spacing guide in the book; in fact, in most cases I planted fewer than were recommended. I could soak the garden in the morning, and by late afternoon, it would be dry as dust. That is clearly not an acceptable gardening method. While that book does have some great information and I would recommend owning a copy, do not take everything in there as being well tested and working for your situation. Always do your own testing, take careful notes, have your growing mixture (or soil) tested, and get to know the folks at your county agriculture center.

Okra in the front row, with beans and gourds on the fence panel

Tomatoes, peppers, parsley, marigold, herbs

The container garden with chicken pen in the background


  1. All New Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew, Page 31


  1. chicken coop plans online

    Some good chicken info – have been keeping hens for a few years now and am only now discovering that there’s a whole online hen community out there! So much to learn about and pick up from other people’s experiences.

  2. Camille David

    Hello there,
    I am in search of concrete mixing/garden troughs with dimensions (78.74 x59.05 inches). If your company has these dimensions or anything close to that, kindly drop an email on how i can order/shipping and the charges.
    Camille David

  3. Stephen Clay McGehee

    I bought them at Lowes and Home Depot. I have also found them at Tractor Supply.

  4. Patricia

    There are several sizes of cement tubs. I would like the size you are showing in your photos. Would you share the dimemsions (in inches) the length, width, and depth.
    Need to make waist high garden for an elderly couple who is on a fixed income and
    need to start growing some of their own produce. Thank you so much in advance and for this inspiration. Patricia

  5. Stephen Clay McGehee

    Hi, Patricia.

    The tubs I have are 32″ x 20″ x 8″ in size. In addition to the garden project, I’ve found them to be very useful for a wide variety of things.
    * I use two of them, one on top of the other, as a temporary storage container. I use a cable tie to secure the, together on on end where it acts as a hinge (there is a hole on the lip on one end).
    * They are handy for moving plants, and tossing weeds when weeding.
    * I built a little stair-step wall around three sides of one, keep it filled with water, and use it as a little duck pond. The ducks love it and we enjoy watching them splash around in it.

    The big thing to keep in mind is that as the plants get bigger, they use up a lot of water, so be careful to not over-plant in a container like that – then make sure that it is kept well watered.

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