Self watering vegetable troughs

Yes, I’m afraid the half-stripped room that was part of the reason for my holiday has been temporarily abandoned, as the good weather led me outside instead.

I have four 6′ vegetable troughs in my garden. Two are filled with soil/compost, and already planted up, so I will leave them for now. One is empty, awaiting filling and planting, and the final one is full of soil, but not planted.

This final trough was filled with the soil from my original ground-level raised beds, and was infested with weeds. I have been weeding it since last September, and it is a lot better, but whenever I leave it, new weeds pop up.

So what I have done is transferred half the weed-infested soil to the empty trough, then covered both with a good layer of thick cardboard, before adding another 8 inches of compost. The idea is that I’ll plant them both with plants that don’t need deep roots, for now. The cardboard will act as a temporary barrier to the weeds, and finally kill them off; and then rot so I can use the full depth in years to come. This seemed a better plan than wasting good topsoil.

While I am doing this, I have drilled a hole in the back of each of these two trough, big enough to take a hosepipe, and then run a soaker hose around the edge of each of them, at the level of the cardboard, which will be connected to my water butts. Because the water butts are raised, I reckon I should get a good enough head of water for the soaker hoses to work. If not, I have a submersible pump I can use, but I would rather rely on gravity.

To do this to the already planted troughs would mean digging up the veg in them, but when I harvest the crops, later in the year, I can then adapt them in the same way.

The aim is not to make a completely tend-free garden, but to increase my chances of the veg surviving if/when I go away during the summer, either for holiday or work.

On a different subject, while I noted that the raspberry plants I had dug up and potted were showing new cane growth, I thought I had killed my thornless blackberry. But this also now has healthy new canes growing. Of course, there will be no fruit this year, but it looks promising for the future.

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