Herb Barrels 8th July 2010

Completed construction of Herb Barrel Garden. I wanted to have raised tuns for kitchen herbs accessible from the kitchen without having to get muddy. The barrels are positioned so their tops are at about waist height and fully accessible from the concrete path through the front door.  There were at least 2 sizes of barrels available,  one large and one small although either would have served the purpose. I opted for the larger size with 780mm diameter at the top. Their construction was of oak timber and had been previously used by Southcorp Wines to age their red wines in South Australia. The barrels were manufactured in France and this is stamped on the bottom of the barrels. They are a fine piece of art in themselves.

Before I was able to construct the stand they were kept full of water to keep them watertight. When the time came to prepare them for the herb garden I drilled 6 holes in the base each 25mm in diameter to allow good drainage. I covered these holes with some old shade cloth and gravel to a depth of 50mm. On top of that I placed my home made potting mix. I didn’t want to use commercial mixes because only premium soil had the characteristics I wanted and that was going to cost more than than the barrels. I made up my own mix using garden soil from my vege garden, composted cow manure, aged horse manure and home made compost. I mixed these together in a garden bed first with my rotary hoe, allowed it to age for a couple of weeks.

I enlisted the help of Phillip, my sixteen year old son, then filled the barrels to within 50mm of the rim. As I was filling the barrels I incorporated Easy Wetta water storage crystals to ensure they wouldn’t dry out in our summer heat in February. Wine barrels will collapse if they are allowed to dry out so the soil needs to be kept moist. There is sufficient mass of soil and enough water crystals to maintain this symbiotic relationship. We shall record progress of the tubs as we go. I expect to plant them out in Spring.

Herb Barrels before filling with soil. At this stage they are half full of water to keep them watertight.

The stand was made from basic materials found around our farm. I used 4 old railway sleepers supported at the correct height by concrete breeze blocks. I levelled the first blocks placed on the ground. You could adjust the height to whatever suited you best.

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