Have you ever wondered what to do with an old, rusted stock tank? This simple, inexpensive hugelkultur stock tank garden is the perfect way to recycle that old trough. Not only is the end result beautiful, but you will learn how to save so much money on dirt with the hugelkultur method. Let’s get started!
What is Hugelkultur?
Hugelkultur is a German and Eastern European method of creating garden beds out of wood cuttings, branches, logs, grass clippings, and other natural materials. These natural materials are then covered with soil, and planted. It is a wonderful way to recycle unwanted wood or tree trimmings from your property.
These layers also help with draining, while simultaneously helping with moisture retention. The natural materials lining the bottom of the garden bed rot and break down over time, similar to composting.
In our case, we have incorporated layers of broken down cardboard as well. Every year we like to line our raised beds with cardboard boxes in order to snuff out and kill grass and weeds. It is a super frugal and safe way to kill unwanted plant life without using harsh, dangerous chemicals. Once the cardboard has done it’s job, you can just include it in the layering process of this hugelkultur method!
Why Use a Stock Tank?
If you know anything about country and farming life, you know that every old barn has a rusted out stock tank sitting around! Over time stock tanks begin to rust and break down, rendering them virtually useless. This hugelkultur stock tank raised bed garden is the perfect way to bring new life to those old stock tanks. Not to mention your new raised bed needs drainage anyways, so rusty holes are exactly what you need!
Of course you can always use a new stock tank for this method! You just need to be sure to drill holes in the bottom so that your raised bed garden has sufficient drainage.
What You’ll Need to Get Started for a Hugelkultur Stock Tank Garden
- A large stock tank
- Tree trimmings, logs, grass clippings, leaf mold, and/or broken down cardboard boxes
- Top soil or garden soil
- Aged manure (if necessary)
- A drill
- A hoe
- Garden spades
- A variety of plants of your choice
How to Put This Stock Tank Raised Bed Together
Step 1: Place the stock tank in the desired spot. Be sure you like it, because once the dirt is in you won’t be able to move it!
Step 2: If necessary, drill several holes in the bottom of the stock tank to make sure your stock tank raised bed has sufficient drainage. If you are using a rusty stock tank with holes in it already, you can skip this step.
Begin layering the bottom of the trough with the natural materials listed above. Logs take up lots of space, so those are a great foundation to start with. Layer logs, branches, grass clippings and cardboard in alternating layers. Fill the stock tank anywhere from 1/2 to 2/3 full with these natural materials.
Step 4: Now it’s time to fill the remainder of the stock tank raised bed with dirt! Using a small front end loader to load soil into larger stock tanks is really helpful, but not necessary.
Fertilize the soil if needed. We like to use some aged manure on our raised beds, but that is completely up to you. If you decide to use manure, be sure it is well aged and broken down. Otherwise it can be too hot and acidic, which is not good for your plants!
Step 6: Cultivate and turn the soil. Be sure to break down large, hard chunks of dirt. This helps aerate the soil and makes planting much easier.
It’s time to start planting! We have planted a variety of herbs in our hugelkultur stock tank garden. It’s the perfect height for easy access and cutting. Here’s how to start seeds indoors if you’d like to try for yourself!
Step 8: Water your new hugelkultur raised bed well! Those new plants need a good drink, so be sure to water them. Now just watch and see how beautiful this stock tank garden will be!
Benefits of this Method
The benefits of this hugelkultur method are amazing!
- This is a super frugal way to build a raised bed! Remember, lumber is very expensive right now, so this is a great, inexpensive alternative.
- Galvanized metal troughs will not break down as quickly as untreated lumber.
- The hugelkultur method saves so much money by using recycled materials you already have on hand.
- Hugelkultur is also so frugal because it saves money on dirt. Dirt is very expensive, and it’s hard to move. With this method you are only using about half the amount of dirt you would need otherwise.
- Using the cardboard method saves you lots of trips to the recycling center! Why not just recycle cardboard at home in your own garden?
You can plant anything you like in your new hugelkultur stock tank garden bed. Depending on the size of your trough, herbs are great for planting in these raised beds because they don’t need a lot of space. The height of the raised bed is also perfect for easily cutting herbs when you’re in a hurry.
Other fun ideas to try in your new hugelkultur raised bed:
- Lettuce greens
- A cut flower garden
- Summer bulbs, like gladiolus
- A variety or herbs
- A tea garden
If you are not sure what plants should be planted close to one another, check out Shanna’s companion planting guide! This is perfect for the new gardener!
Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs is so fun. It’s rewarding and empowering to grow your own food. We hope this inspires you to try your hand at making your very own hugelkultur stock tank garden. Let us know in the comments below how it goes for you! We’d love to hear your suggestions on how you tried this method.