Container gardening gives gardeners more space for planting and can add color to patios, decks or balconies. Gardeners with small yards can experiment with plants, flowers and vegetables that they might not otherwise consider because of space restrictions. Half barrels are a good size for special gardens, roses and even trees.
Wood becomes water-tight when it's saturated. Fill the barrel with water several times to wash out any residues. After a few days of being filled with water, the barrel will seal itself. Liners are commercially available to fit snugly inside the barrel. A heavy plastic liner may be used to waterproof the barrel as well. After waterproofing, line the bottom of the barrel with river rocks. Add floating plants such as water hyacinth and water lettuce. A pygmy water lily only needs about 18 inches of water to do well, and most barrels are at least that deep. A few gold fish will keep mosquitoes from breeding. Add a fountain for water circulation if you like.
Summer Vegetable Garden
Plant the barrel with a tomato, green pepper, basil and a compact summer squash. Grow pole beans in the back of the barrel. Other herbs to consider adding are thyme and parsley. The barrel should be in a spot that receives eight hours of sunlight per day. Water when the top few inches of soil is dry. Fertilize with half strength water soluble plant food every other time you water.
Leaf lettuces will do quite well in a barrel. Plant the seeds by sprinkling over the surface of the soil. Press down lightly and cover with 1/4 inch of soil then water. Cover the soil with kitchen plastic wrap to keep the moisture in and warm up the soil. Remove the plastic as soon as the seeds have sprouted. Harvest by snipping off the leaves with scissors. The lettuces will keep producing new leaves until the summer heat hits.
Many types of small fruits will do well in a barrel including strawberries. Plant a dwarf citrus tree in the center of the barrel. Surround it with strawberry plants. Add a melon that is bred to be do well in containers like Minnesota midget or Sakata's Sweet. Raspberries, blackberries and grapes will grow in barrels. Plant one to a barrel and provide support for the grapes.