So far, I haven't caught a single slug (banana or otherwise) in this set of barrels. With a drip system installed, plants remain healthy even through hot spells. This is the ultimate low maintenance system for a veggie garden! I recommend installing a drip irrigation system as soon as possible after planting or at the same time.
I could have set up all my barrels in one day, but I paced myself physically and financially by doing this project in stages. And, of course, sometimes you just run out of materials or daylight. You can split the project up many ways. Do what works for you!
Step 1: Materials
Carpet tape - You need indoor/outdoor rated stuff. It is double-sided and has a strip of paper on one side that peels off after getting it positioned. It also comes in white or black, but the color doesn't matter.
Copper tape - This can be quite pricey! In fact, you'll see it a version available that is sticky backed, but it costs more. Use it if you want to cut out a step though. My roll is very, very thin copper with no sticky backing and cost $5 at a garage sale. A steal!
Knife/scissors/pruners - I found a knife to be much more efficient. This is for cutting the carpet tape, copper tape and opening bags of soil. The carpet tape is killer on pruners and leaves them sticky, icky.
Gloves - Always! Protect your fingers from sharp edges, critters, and future sore hands.
Soil - Mix your own or purchase. You're going to need a bunch of it.
Rocks/brick/pavers - My barrels sit on river rock to encourage good drainage and level the area under my containers.
Amendments/fertilizer/compost/worm castings - I use mostly worm castings and home grown compost to make my plants happy, but you may have a favorite plant food. You can also use plant food that is specific to what you are planting (veggies, acid-loving plants, bulb food, etc).
Mulch - You'll see that I top all my beds with rice hulls. It's easy, very cheap, super sustainable, long lasting and appears to keep the cats out of my beds (doesn't feel good in their paws).
And, of course, plants and seeds - My beds are primarily for edibles since I don't have enough sun anywhere else, but I've mixed in all kinds of pollinator friendly plants and some with great foliage that will last beyond my food growing season. I also started all of my veggies from seed this year: some in starter pots on the deck and some right in the barrels. Both are doing well.
Step 2: Getting Started.
Put on your gloves and clean the containers if needed. You want a dirt free and dry surface for the carpet tape to adhere well. I use a dry rag and wipe off only the area I will be taping.
Step 3: Pull Out the Carpet Tape.
Depending on how wide your copper strip needs to be, make 2 to 4 passes with the carpet tape. It does not need to touch at each edge of the tape or at each end of the strip. See the photo. The copper tape can bridge 1/4 to 1/2 inch gaps (depending on the width of the copper tape).
Now you have carpet tape wrapped around the container and the paper on the back of the tape is still in place. Using a gloved hand, rub the carpet tape with firm pressure. You are ensuring good contact between the carpet tape and the container - this is important!
And now you can peel off the carpet tape's paper backing! It may tear at the wrinkles and folds but comes off pretty well. I do this part without gloves so I can use a finder nail to peel at the tape edge. This is a great part of the project for kids to help. Just remind them to avoid touching the now exposed sticky surface of the tape.
Step 4: Copper Tape Time.
Do as many rows as necessary to cover all the carpet tape. If you have gaps, cut a piece of carpet tape to fit and cover with copper.
Just like you did earlier, before removing the carpet tape backing, use gloved hands and apply firm pressure while smoothing the copper into place. This ensures good contact between the carpet tape and the copper. It also keeps critters, soil and water from getting into wrinkles and crevices.
Pat your self on the back! Take a break and make sure you are staying hydrated and not getting a sunburn!!!
Step 5: Add Soil.
Scoop in soil to about 8 inches deep. You can pour soil out of a bag if you are sturdy enough to hold it over the edge - I tipped my containers over when I tried to lean the bag of soil over.
Step 6: Add Amendments.
Add more soil and compost until you have about 6 inches to the rim of the container. Here I mix in (by hand or small hand tool) a few cups of worm castings. Because I have my own worm bins this is pretty easy and inexpensive to do. If you are buying the worm castings, you can cut the amount back - or start a worm bin!
Step 7: Add Plants and Seeds!
Step 8: Mulch!
You are done!!! Water everything well and consider installing a drip system.