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Stock Tank Raised Bed

If you have or come across an old stock tank it can make for a simple and effective raised bed. We’ve had a rusted old tank sitting in our shop for two years. This spring I finally decided to make a stock tank raised bed.

Why make a raised bed to begin with?

Raised beds are a great idea for a few reasons.

  1. Easier to use –That extra height can be a huge help if you need a little boost off the ground.
  2. You can plop them anywhere- You can build a raised bed in a parking lot and you can grow food or flowers just fine.
  3. You can control your soil – Maybe you are stuck with a lot of clay or too much sand. It can take a while to change and improve your soil. Raised beds, if made correctly, are ready to grow right away.
  4. They can be made with many materials-Shaped wood boards, unprocessed timber, metal, or just ground hilled up into a bed shape
  5. Garden where the sun is- Maybe you only have small pockets of sun in your yard, no great place to stick a full sized garden. You can have several raised beds peppered around your yard wherever the best sun is.

Negatives of Raised Beds

  1. Cost of bed itself – If you don’t already have materials around you’ll need to buy or scrounge up whatever your bed will be made of. Again you could just use timber you harvest yourself, but it will degrade faster than something more sturdy.
  2. Cost of soil – Dirt ain’t cheap, believe it or not. If you don’t have your own compost to work from or another soil source you’ll have to buy it bagged or in bulk.
  3. Maintenance – Beds will require maintenance at some point, albeit you might get many years out of them before they need a tune up.
  4. Limited space – You are limited by whatever the size of your bed is.
  5. More Frequent Watering- A raised bed will tend to dry out faster than something planted directly in the soil.

How to Make a Stock Tank Raised Bed

Here is my raised bed in mid June. On the left is Arugula that was just harvested. In the middle is the next batch of salad greens coming up. On the right is a mix of salad greens ready to harvest.

We decided to make a stock tank raised bed for two main reasons. The first is that I wanted a small salad garden up close to the house. I have a nasty habit of missing a few days down in the garden to discover I missed my salad mix when it was at its peak. Same with radishes. A raised bed by the house where I’d see it every day seemed like a good solution. Pair that with the pressing need to clear old junk out of the shop and voila! A rusted old stock tank becomes my stock tank raised bed.

Step 1: Get your Tank

You can buy a tank brand new, check craigslist, or haul one out of your junk pile.

Step 2: Decide on a location

Pay attention to where sunny spots are in your yard. When you think you’ve got your spot picked out, pay attention to how much sun it gets over the course of a day.

Step 3: Gather Materials and Assemble

For our stock tank we first added a layer of wood. This was old junky firewood we had around the farm. This is in keeping with the idea of Hugelkultur. Slowly but surely those wood scraps will break down and feed your bed.

rough and tumble farmhouse wood scraos

After the wood we layered in straw. This helps fill in the empty spaces and it too will compost down.

Following the straw we put in a wheelbarrow of aged compost.

rough and tumble farmhouse compost

After the compost, we added a topsoil for planting.

All of this will settle as it rains, so we will likely add in more top soil after a week or two.

It isn’t planted just yet, as it is still getting down below freezing most nights. Soon we’ll plant it with salad mixes and radishes.

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stock tank raised bed rough and tumble farmhouse

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