Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

I have an old bath tub and in the past I've converted them to ponds..I have two ponds (one's an old fridge) already and always have ponds...but then I thought, maybe I can use it as a large 'pot'...I did some Googling and discovered this intense use of the old baths... and it's like all my Christmases have come at once. I can get old baths from any tip:

Views: 422

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Fabulous! Restricted drainage - I see this as a good alternative to wicking beds. Tried it out on a number of large pots and as far as I can see, works quite well, the plants do not need the amount of water an ordinary pot would need.

In our conditions -- the bath tub makes 'potting' sense. 'Tis the quintessential easy DIY 'raised bed'. But as the guy suggests it's all in the management.

Here's another example, locally grown :

In my estimation I think I can really customise this by embedding one -- or two? --  terracotta pot irrigators in each rub-a-dub-dub-tub-bed. Of course gardening on sand -- as I do -- it makes a lot of sense to go potty, so long as I can keep the soil innards friable, not too hot and moist. So his formula of mix(first video) is doable here --as is her's (second video). 

I'd also sort of honeyhole the setting up by trench mulching the length of the tub and covering that with a  soil layer. 

I've been experimenting with sifting together 1:1 local sand and dried cow/horse manure. Even using it as a seed raising mix and that mix would suit this setup. 

...if you wanted to get real serious you could earth bag it:Earthbag Wicking Bed.

Better insulation I guess....

Wow - hard work for the young fit and strong! Good video from the woman, don't know where she is that it's too hot and we to grow veges in the summer!

Dave, you wouldn't need an olla for the bathtub, the restricted drainage with a mix not heavy on sand would be enough.

It actually looks easier than building my raised beds.  A touch uglier mind you.  I reckon you could dress them with bamboo or something if you were anal like me.

Andrew have you ever tried to move a cast iron bathtub? I haven't but I've seen some grown men buckle under the weight. I've a fibreglass one here which is a frog pond, it's still there 12 years later and was far from new when I brought it home from a garage sale.

Not sure I'd go with the cast iron ones, Elaine.  Although, I could throw them around with one hand!... um.. yeah.. but the newer, cheaper versions would suit better (just for everyone else who can't lift the real ones, of course).  Or even old plastic ponds etc. 

My previous garden bath was cast iron  -- as heavy as a piano! I could only move it an inch at a time.

The clincher about bath tubs is size both length and depth..and the fact that the build material would be less heat conductive, especially if it was clad.  Today 'raised beds' are sold walled with corrugated iron  -- example: Birdies 2900 x 1500 x 820mm Raised Garden Bed will set you back $385.

At bath tub size, it's not really 'growing in pots' -- rather they are self contained garden 'beds'.

I'm planning to use the one I've got and probably get another two or three at least  from the tip once I get the filling right.  I see where the best option is to pair two tubs side by side. Not only do I get to put an old bath to use, but I extend my garden growing area very quickly.

As for my existing ponds, both elevated 60 cm, I employ a 'stumpery' effect by ringing the sides with branches...if I find I have landscaping issues. Trimmed bamboo will also work of course if you wanted a formal edge. But then plain can be visually OK -- esp as the vegetation tumbles over the sides. Indeed you can line the sides with smaller pots both at the base of the bath and/or along the bathtub rim.I've also , in the past, laid out old tiles around the rim for a sort of mosaic effect. 

But these were ponds and marshes in the tub -- not soil filled beds growing vegetables.

One thing I've found with using bathtubs outside --so long as they aren't cast iron -- is that they are more easily handled and settled if they are raised atop sand bags. Since I don't have the brickwork and plenty of sand -- sandbags make sense.

We have a spa bed which grows excellent ginger and any of the water loving herbs

I finally sowed my bath tub today with seeds. The bathtub sure makes a great seed raising bed.

I used  sand bags -- one at each end -- to fix the tub in place and give it a fall towards the plug hole. The sand bags are ideal for the gravity fix as you sculpt them to suit. Under that outlet I put a plastic saucer to collect the enriched drainage. And sure enough: it's like a manure tea spring.

I had strewn old branches and twigs on the bottom*,covered the outlet hole with a little piece of shade cloth and  filled the bath with a sand/soil and sifted manure mix while adding a trench mulch (marinated grass clippings, paper and manure -- my honeyhole recipe)in the core running its length. In the centre, while the weather is dry, I embedded a terracotta pot irrigator and filled it up. I'm not sure how the bath will perform during a wet season as slow drainage may be a problem.

I kidnapped and imported a few fat juicy garden worms.Go for it guys! As an experiment (although it's not the best time of year) I planted some cucumber on the bath edge in the hope that the vines will trail over the sides and onto the gravel surface below.

Since most of my backyard space is growth gardened or mulched walkway I'm mining the chook pen for my 'soil' -- sandy as it is. The chooks now live on a craters edge  as I take the top sandy loam layer for mixing with manures and mine deeper to access the yellow sand below.

[Methinks:"Maybe I can dig a well? The water table and aquifers can't be all that far down. A well in a chookpen. I'd suspect that at 1.5 metres the sand should start to dampen. Around here the water table level is omnipresent. You can see it in the lagoons. wetlands and the local lake. Many in town deploy spear pumps to access the aquifer so maybe mining the chook pen is a cheaper way down to water.]"

Sand mining -- just like the real thing at the edge of town.

My colour pattern layers are grey:greyish:yellow...with yellow predominating at less than half a metre down. But the rationale of filling the bathtub with sandy soil makes sense to me. It begins to solve so many of my moisture retention problems....and I get a quick garden bed ready to go via a few hours of effort.It will be interesting to monitor the soil transition as it begins to blacken up as the biota converts the sand mix into loam. In the garden beds it took almost 3 years to transit to loam from a greyish and yellow sandy beginning via a sheet mulching process.

If this setup works I'm gonna be adding a few more tubs courtesy of the local tip shop. The fibreglass(?) tubs may be cumbersome, but they are light and readily shifted about.

* The twig layer may not  be necessary given my sandy soil but the wood will hold moisture.


Important note about adding photos:

Always add photos using the "From my computer" option, even if you are on a mobile phone or other device.


  • Add Photos
  • View All


  • Add Videos
  • View All


Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.

Place your business add here! ($5 per month or $25 for 9 months)

Talk to Andy on 0422 022 961.  You can  Pay on this link

© 2020   Created by Andrew Cumberland.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service