The limits of bathtub gardening?

Hey team!

As many of you may already know, I'm a big fan of planting in old bathtubs. Due to constraints at our home (size, storm drains, doggo, etc) everything I do needs to be raised. I was thinking of planting a few small trees in my tubs instead of doing large pots - are there any obvious downsides to this plan?

I'm not planning on moving them around (at least, not for quite a long time) but I'm sure I'm probably missing some problems!

As a bonus, have a new tub I set up yesterday afternoon.


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  • whoops now the photo is included1219757152?profile=RESIZE_1024x1024

  • At last, my internet is working again. Photos of anti slumping efforts. This black sapote tree was planted level with the top of the wheelie bin. This photo is a couple of years old. The tree is now at least 6inches below the top of the bin.1219757035?profile=RESIZE_1024x1024This is my latest effort to cater for the expected slump. I placed and extra ring of plastic above the top of the bin and planted the citrus tree to the top of that. In the 2 months or so since the tree was planted out the soil level has slumped around 3 inches already. When the soil is level with  the top of the wheelie bin I will remove the white plastic. The soil will still probably have slumped below the top of the bin but not to the same degree as the black sapote example.

  • Sid,
    I grow a lot of veges in bathtubs, due to my soil being very poor. I can control the soil mix better in any containers and it also allows for far less competition from bush trees etc. I find it easier to keep the water up to the plants, my soil is water repellent (hydrophobic) and even though I can build up the amount of humus in the soil through additions, I find that I get more success with containers.
    I don't grow many trees in bath tubs as I believe that the depth of soil is too shallow except for the smallest of trees, and the problem of the soil "slumping" is best handled with large pots, etc. Slumping occurs when you add lots of organic matter to a soil mix. The fungi and microbes get to work and eat the manures, and compost additions, the plants get all the nutrients needed from the action of the microscopic life and the earthworms that start their magic work within the soil. Over time though this causes the soil to become more dense and it appears to sink away. This is no problem with veges as you simply add more manures, etc. to keep the lifecycle occurring. With trees though it is more difficult as adding more food can cause Collar Rot if you mound up more food around a sinking soil mass. You can only add so much food to the top of the soil before you start to cover tree trunk that does not like being covered. I have tried "lifting" the tree up in its container and stuffing more food underneath, usually I set the tree back because roots get broken and a large tree is very difficult to manoeuvre. In a bath the tree rots would spread out along the bath, making job even harder. In my latest efforts to grow trees in containers I have used old wheelie bins which give a much greater depth of soil for the root ball, but which does not solve the problem outlined. 
     I have a couple of photos to demonstrate what I do now to combat this but I don't seem able to get the program to put these photos up. At a later date maybe.

  • Bathtubs? You aint seen nothing yet!

  • How do you handle the drainage in the bathtubs Sid?     There are quite a few slower growing trees that should be able to grow in bathtubs. The thing is, as they are not in the ground, they will need watering and feeding.  

    We grow many of our fruit trees in tubs and bins and find that we have to check them a bit more than if they are growing in the ground.  We have some trees that we now know may be too big for tubs and bins but I keep clipping them to manage their root growth. 

  • Great use for bathtubs!

    I have found that having fruiting trees in pots - even 200L wicking bins - means a bit more attention is needed to keep them thriving. Topping up the mix at least annually; pruning followed by a new round of fertiliser and keeping up the water. Even wicking bins need monitoring especially if they are in full sun but still use much less water than in-ground. Adding worms in the compost will help to keep the microbes happy. I use 200L bins and always plant something else to keep the tree company. Dandelion (the real thing) or Lucerne are personal choices and there would be many more to choose from, even annuals like Lettuce would do fine.

  • Looks fantastic.  My only concern would be keeping a large tree happy enough to fruit well.  

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