What can you do with empty 55 gallon plastic barrels? Why not recycle them into an attractive low maintenance container garden. Earth boxes are self watering containers which take the work out of gardening while providing healthier plants and more vegetables. While there are other earth box designs, my goal was to remake plastic barrels into attractive pots which could be placed anywhere around your house. Here's how you do it.
Step 1: Materials
A 55 gallon plastic barrel and a plastic tube are the main components of the earth barrel. I used an empty barrel we get soap in at work and the tube is a recycled plastic leg from a storage shelf. Both were free and looking for a new job. My cost per earth barrel was about $4 because I painted them and already had the tools. One can of spray paint will put 2 coats on 2 planters.
List of things you'll need:
55 gal barrel
1 1/2" PVC pipe 20" long
4 zip ties
10 long aluminum rivets
3/4" PVC plug
Spray paint for plastic (optional)
Plastic epoxy to fill punctures if necessary
Old towels -- it's impossible to get these barrels completely empty so you will make a small mess when cutting your barrel
Tools: drill and bits, jigsaw, hole saw, riveter, crescent wrench, Sharpy, pliers
Step 2: Preparing Barrel
The first step is to rinse out the barrel and plug the access holes (if necessary). A spigot was used to dispense soap from my barrel so I inserted a 3/4" PVC plug into the hole. Check the top of your barrel (end with holes) for places where air holes may have been made by simply puncturing the barrel. Air holes are made to allow the barrel to breath and can be patched with a bit of plastic epoxy. Air holes in the bottom are not a problem.
Do this step first so as not to forget it later. Once filled with soil, this pot weighs around 120lbs and is hard to lift. You will not be happy when you see water running out from under your "earth barrel".