When hurricane Rita came through Southeast Texas, in September, 2005, my pond buckled in half when a tree was uprooted in my back yard and landed on my house. Instead of re-building the pond area, my hubby pulled the form out of the ground and it sat, parked on the side of the house for almost 3 years. My reasons for planting my garden in the pond form were many. Underneath the pond forms, there used to be a tree in our front yard, fairly close to the house. This tree had some serious issues so it was cut down in March of 2005. Once the tree was removed, the ground was so packed with roots and bark, dynamite would need to be used to blast out a hole to plant anything in.
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on July 21, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)
The Lazy Gardener's Vegetable Pond Weedfree and Small Scale Gardening in Pond Forms Can also be Wheelchair Accessible
This is what the front yard looked like before the tree was cut down. The tree cutters are shown here, discussing how it will be removed.
You can imagine the trunk and roots that were left of this old tree once they removed it. No matter how much my husband chainsawed and whacked it with an axe, there was still lots of the old roots and wood in that hole. It was impossible for me to dig any depth there to plant anything at all. Grass and weeds would grow there in abundance, but anything else couldn't be planted deep enough to really grow properly. The past few years, I've parked potted planters there and just moved them to mow as the grass grew. Since I'm the one that mows around here, I was very frustrated with moving those heavy planters.
My beautiful pond in 2005
Two trees fell and landed on my house which caused the pond to buckle in half.
The pond had to be removed. Once the tree was removed, dirt was filled in and plants were placed there instead of the pond.
I hoped that one day our pond would be re-installed some place else. Sadly, I could see that just wasn't going to happen. There have been too many other things that have needed to be done.
Fast Forward to 2008
For 3 years my husband tried to convince me to dispose of the pond form. In the meantime, I found another, smaller pond form at a garage sale for $2.00. Being the treasure collector that I am, I couldn't pass up that good of a deal. I used that one to cover up my lawn mower, hoping maybe it could be installed some place also.
Rather than get rid of the pond forms, I decided to use them to my advantage for the veggie garden. I chose the front yard for my vegetable garden for several reasons. That spot where I parked the pond form was the sunniest spot on this property for the most part of the day. It was ideal for a vegetable garden. The larger pond form is only about 18 inches tall. The smaller pond form is approximately 15 inches tall. It took a total of 18 bags of cheap potting soil to fill both pond forms.
The second reason I chose to plant my garden in a pond is to make it weed free. I'm a lazy gardener. The mulch I put on the top layer has helped to keep the soil moist in the pond forms and weed free in the forms and on the ground over the camouflage tarp. I haven't pulled a single weed or blade of crabgrass from the ponds since I planted them on May 1st.
My fellow writer, Jeremy suggested that this would be a great article for wheelchair gardening. If your pond form(s) was placed where there was room to maneuver around it, it would be the perfect height for gardening comfortably from a wheel chair. The fact that the pond raises the soil so far above the ground level eases gardening for those who can't bend over very far.
I've been keeping up with the progress on this garden with photos and thought some of you might appreciate seeing how it was created and how it's grown.
Diary of a Novice Gardener (that's me since this is my first vegetable garden)
May 1st, 2008
I gathered up everything I'd need to get started.
I planted a vegetable garden and a salad bowl garden today using older pond forms that were no longer in use.
I decided the front yard would be the best place to plant vegetables and salad goodies, where everything would get the most sun. In hind sight, if I had a lick of sense, I would have started this garden in early March and NOT on MAY 1st.
Weather was perfect for this job.
Blue skies, not too much sun, and a nice breeze to keep me cool.
Vegetable 6 packs purchased at Sutherland's Hardware Store.
Seeds for a salad garden, including: several varieties of gourmet lettuce baby carrots two tone radishes for planting in the smaller pond form.
These plants were grown last year.
They survived our Southeast Texas "winter"
and are already producing peppers.
They are in a separate container.
An old camouflage tarp was laid down before anything else was put in place to help keep grass from growing around pond forms. This, and the mulch I put down around the pond forms, has worked really well to kill the grass underneath.
I drilled numerous drainage holes into the bottom of the pond forms. They'll never hold water again. I've had no problems with drainage.
Originally I purchased 10 bags of cheap potting soil for this project. I'd only planned on planting one of the pond forms. Now that I've decided to use both pond forms, I know this won't be enough soil.
I bought 10 more bags of cheap potting soil and 5 bags of Pine Bark Mulch. Surely this will be enough! Earth's Finest is the brand of both the soil and the mulch. Can't ask for any better than that, can ya?
I purchased Dynamite Fertilizer at Home Depot, which ought to work throughout the growing season. Since I've never used it in the past, this will be an experiment for this product. I hope it helps to produce many nice veggies for our table.
Here's my garden, after maneuvering 18 bags of soil into the ponds and putting in the plants. I sprinkled a hand full of Dynamite between each layer of soil and mixed it in as I filled the forms up.
Time to gently water the soil. Looking pretty good, so far. Notice how close the blue green water hose is to my garden. That will be very convenient!
Hale's Best Jumbo muskmelons and Jubilee watermelons are planted close to the edge of the big pond in the back by the fence. My vision??? They will hang over the side and melons can rest on the ground.
We love zuchinni fixed many different ways. I can't wait to put some of these on the table for dinner.
Ichiban eggplant - Japanese eggplant Eggplant is always wonderful so many ways.
I chose Early Girl tomatoes. We're more fans of Roma tomatoes because we like the smaller size. Hopefully these will be nice and tasty.
It only took 1 bag of mulch to
cover the tops of both pond forms. The rest will be used to cover the tarp.
I parked plants in front to hide the sides of the pond forms. The split leaf philodendron behind the forms is in a pot also and can be moved, if it starts to get in the way.
Here is the final result of my hard day's work.
My patience and hard work will be rewarded when I pluck my veggies from my garden.
May 6, 2008 ~
We had rain most of the day yesterday. Little sprouts in the salad bowl are poking their heads up. Can't hardly tell, but I think the veggies grew a bit too.
May 16, 2008 ~
This beautiful green bell pepper came from the plant that over wintered.
Zucchini is getting bigger.
Lots of little sprouts coming up. (I don't have a clue what's what) Lettuces, carrots and radishes Aren't they cute???
Something is eating my muskmelon leaves. Time for a closer inspection.
Both the watermelons and muskmelons vines are getting longer. If they grow according to my vision, they will start draping over the sides before too long.
I bought green onions from the store for baked potato soup. After cutting off the tops, I planted the white part that still had roots. They've already grown quit a bit in just a few days.
May 18, 2008 ~
Look how big that zucchini blossom is, with lots more to come!YEAH!
I added this big rubber snake as a garden guardian. He's doing his job.He looks pretty real, from a distance. Every time the birds see me close to the garden, they start chattering. I guess they are trying to warn me about him. :-)
Green onions are getting bigger. I can snip as much as I want and they will keep on growing. Overall view of the garden this morning.
May 21, 2008 ~
Watermelons (on the left side) are really filling in.
May 28, 2008 ~
The garden looks beautiful. I can't help but go out and admire it each morning.
I water it and look for new growth. Having the water hose right next to the garden helps immensely.
I bought some cages to go over the tomatoes, but you can't hardly see them with the photo so small.
I haven't plucked a single weed out yet. Watermelon vines are starting to hang over the pond, just like I imagined they would.
Check out my first zucchini!
June 16, 2008 ~
I added wild spinach tree plants to the salad bowl garden. The beautiful leaves can be plucked off and added to garden salads.
View from the back of the veggie pond. The only problem I've seen is that on the back side of the larger pond form, the weight of the soil, etc. has caused the edge of the pond to sag just a hairbit. Not enough to have things falling out, but I know it's there. There was a tiny split in the edge of the form where the pond form had buckled in the hurricane. I was really glad it was on the back side, and not visible to the front of the yard where folks driving by would see it.
Close up of the vines with watermelon and muskmelon blooms
June 19, 2008 ~
My first watermelon.Isn't it cute??? Key placed for reference of size.
Watermelon is so hairy!I never knew!
Look at how much the Japanese eggplant has grown in just 3 days.
Things are growing like weeds. First tomatoes of the season
July 19th, one month later.
This watermelon is about 7-8 Inches in length now and about 5 inches around the middle.
Muskmelon hanging on the side of the pond form
about 3 1/2" in diameter
Watermelon vines have crawled around to the front now.
What have I learned this year?
All of the plants grew much better than I ever hoped they would, with the exception of the salad plants that I grew from seed. Unfortunately, what did come out of the "Salad Bowl Garden" wasn't worth eating, other than the wild spinach. Because it was so late when I actually planted the garden, I haven't had much produce come from the bigger vegetable garden pond. I've only harvested a handful of eggplants, a couple of zucchini, and a few tomatoes.
Looking back, it could be because the seeds I planted in the "Salad Bowl Garden" were from the previous year, but I'll take the blame for my lateness in planting them and hope that next year, I'm successful in creating a salad garden. In spite of the lack of produce this year, the concept of this type of vegetable garden is wonderful. This really is a great way to garden on a small scale.
This past week I cut back the tomatoes and hope that I'll have some for the fall from the same plants. The eggplants are still doing good, so I've left them alone. The zucchini got a bad case of squash vine borers and only one plant remains, but it has a couple of zucchinis on it. There are muskmelons and watermelons growing like crazy. Two muskmelons are on the vines and 2 good size watermelons, with a few little bitty ones in there too. That's plenty for just the 2 of us. I'm hoping they will continue to grow and more melons will appear.
Next year, I will start planning and planting much sooner. It's just too hot in Southeast Texas to get such a late start on a garden. Hopefully, using this year's experience, I will have a wonderful bounty of home grown vegetables that we can enjoy.
If you'd like to see more about this garden, including many more photos, you can check out this slide show I've made. I keep it updated regularly with the newest photos. Just click on START SLIDE SHOW.
COST OF MY GARDEN:
18 bags of "cheap" potting soil
1 bag of pine bark mulch
(5) 6 packs of veggies
Dynamite 9 month Fertilizer
Miscellaneous seeds (leftover seeds from last year, already "expensed" last year)
2 pond forms (previously "expensed" from previous years, 1 was in ground, the other was the cover for my lawn mower)
About Janet Colvin
Living in Southeast Texas, I have always enjoyed tropical plants and warm sunny weather. My gardening has become much more diverse and my plant collection has rapidly multiplied since joining the great folks at Dave's Garden. Working with my sister, we create unique copper garden art. I love to think outside of the box and can be found in the Coleus and Artisans Forum.