Old wheelbarrows don't have to be always thrown into the junk. Plant flowers and small berries in a wheelbarrow and your old wheelbarrow will be brought back to life. One rule - the older the wheelbarrow, the better it looks! :)
Planting flowers and berries into the wheelbarrows has many advantages, some of them:
- wheelbarrows are easily moved around and can be positioned as one pleases,
- purchasing cost of old wheelbarrow are really low - you wanted to throw it away?
- combinations of colors and shapes are endless, regardless if you are planting annual, biennial or perennial plants,
- just as with flower pots, growing medium can be customized for plants with special needs, etc.
How to Prepare Wheelbarrow for planting?
Some people like the rust, holes and dents in old wheelbarrows and they keep them that way until rust totally destroys the wheelbarrow.
Personally, I like to paint wheelbarrows with some protective paint, usually of some copper or bronze color - but first, I make few holes in the bottom of wheelbarrow, if needed, to avoid problems with water drainage.
With such protective layer, such wheelbarrow still can last for years, if not decades, especially if paint job is done every few years. Each paint job, I use as opportunity to change growing soil - this is not necessary, but can help growing strong and healthy plants.
Note: If you are going to plant flowers only, use any color you like. If you are going to plant edable berries, be careful which color you choose, or even better, don't paint the old wheelbarrow.
After fresh paint is applied to the surface of the metal, be sure to leave wheelbarrow for at least few days in order for paint to get really dry - even for weeks.
After that, fill it with good flower soil, some hydroton pebbles and if necessary, add some compost/humus and NPK fertilizers.
Note: plants in wheelbarrows are usually planted more dense, than they would be if planted in the garden, especially if you are planting some falling/trailing flowers around the edge and upward growing flowers in the middle of the wheelbarrow. In spring, such plants can require plenty of nutrients and in warmer days, plenty of water - fortunately, such plants are planted in wheelbarrows and can be moved into the shades during summer heat. If possible, choose 'deeper' wheelbarrows since they contain more soil per plant and have more room for root system.
If you are preparing wheelbarrow with 'old' soil, at the end of winter or early in the spring, clean the soil from old plants and roots, add some compost/humus and some NPK fertilizers. If you had issues with flowers last season, maybe it is time to change the soil or at least to disinfect it (I don't like chemicals, but thought of pests eating my flowers and plants in general, doesn't sound nice to me ...).
Best berries for wheelbarrow are, of course, strawberries - plant them near the edges and let the flowers and fruits hang over the edges. This way, fruits stay dry and fruit rot due to contact with wet soil is avoided.
Planting the Flowers
Flowers are planted just like in any other flower pot - according to your choice and preferences.
It is recommended to plant trailing and/or liana-type plants near the edges and 'ordinary' flowers toward the middle, but that is totally up to the gardener. Good thing with annual plants is that each year one can plant different flowers, take photos and compare :)
After planting, water gently with plenty of water and move wheelbarrow into the shade for few days. After that, move them to suitable location and watch them grow.
If you planted flowers with relatively short flowering season, after flowering season is over, simply move away that wheelbarrow.
If you like flowers with short flowering season, but don't want to 'lose' wheelbarrow, combine flowers with overlapping flowering seasons - again, only the sky is limit. Remeber that berries can be very decorative plants, too - row of Alpine strawberries near the edge can be combine with larger varieties toward the middle of the wheelbarrows, to create green 'forest' with bright colored flowers and fruits.
My first choices of flowers are petunias and tagetes, but, perennials like hydrangeas can be quite impressive when planted and grown in wheelbarrow. Perennial berries like blackberries and similar berries, can be grown successfully in wheelbarrows, especially if local soil is not suitable for blackberries and the gardener want to avoid possibility of blackberries 'escaping' into the rest of the garden.
Caring About Plants
Taking care about planted flowers and berries is 'businesses as usual' in the home garden:
If your plants are lagging behind and are not growing as expected, that it is time to add some NPK fertilizer and compost/humus.
Soon after applying them, nutrients will be available to the plants. Since most of the plants don't like large spikes in nutrients during growth, NPK fertilizers should be added more often, but in smaller doses.
Adding compost, humus or rich flower soil will add both organic matter and ready available nutrients to the plants. Organic matter will decompose over time and provide nutrients to the plants without spikes.
Personally, I like to add both NPK fertilizers and organic manure, compost, humus and/or good flower soil - this provides several benefits and keep my plants happy.
Using small hoe or similar tool, dig in new soil and fertilizers.
This will also aerate and loosen the soil. Be sure not to damage the plants.
Clean old leaves and flowers - this will often promote stronger growth and new blooms to appear.
If necessary, remove weak old plants and if you have to, plant new ones.
Water regularly using watering can or hose.
During summer heat, one has to water almost every day. If that is too much trouble, reposition wheelbarrow so that it is in shade during strongest sunlight.
Growing flowers and other plants in wheelbarrows has its merits - a wheelbarrow filled with flowers is nice addition to any yard or garden.
If you have old wheelbarrow, be sure to try it!