“Tractor” Gardens

large tractor, planted

Tractor Senior currently contains rows of carrot seedlings, two cucumbers, and a Sweet 100 cherry tomato.

IMG_1570 (1).jpg

Tractor Junior is boasting a lemon cucumber, zinnias, and lobelia.

In our limited but beloved garden space, we have two raised beds created with stones from the property. We used the “lasagna” gardening method to fill those beds, but we yearned for more veg, flower, and fruit space, so we came up with the idea of creating movable container gardens. We purchased galvanized feed troughs, added solid tires and drain holes, and voila! Now we can roll our “tractor” gardens into the sunshine or shade and roll them aside when we need to use the paths for other purposes or create “rooms” in the garden.

Listen: Crank up the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 1972 album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, and sing along while you work with friends and family. This was one of our well-loved and oft-played albums growing up on our farm outside Enumclaw. Sometimes my dad’s huge, homemade speakers would shake the walls, and if we opened up doors and windows we could dance in the garden.

Sip: You’ll be using power tools, so keep a clear head with some homemade sun tea. After everything’s planted, you could toast your teamwork with a refreshing wheat beer. If you can find it, try the delicious Craftsman Heavenly Hefeweizen from Pasadena…ahhhh.

If you’d like to add tractor gardens to your space, here is how we created ours, with generous help from my mom and dad:

tractor tire

  • We took our casters to Home Depot and bought nuts, bolts, and washers that fit the mounting holes in the casters.

tractor nuts, bolts, washers

  • We come from a world of graphic design, so we were delighted to bring our T-square and triangle into the garden and measure and mark the location for the casters on the bottom of each tub.

tractor tire prep

  • We dusted off our reliable old electric drill, fit it with the correct bit size for the nuts, and carefully drilled the mounting holes.

tractor drill

  • Then we switched to a larger bit and drilled a generous number of drainage holes.

tractor drain holes

  • Next, we worked as a team to mount the casters. We turned the tubs on their sides, and one of us held the caster in place, inserted the bolt with a washer from the exterior; the other one of us fit the bolt with a washer and nut and screwed it loosely, by hand, into place. We kept these loose until we had all four in place as we required a bit of “jimmying” to place all four bolts.

tractor tires mounted

  • We continued our teamwork as one held the head of the bolt in place with a crescent wrench while the other used the socket set to tighten the nuts from inside the trough.

tractor tools, socket-wrench

  • We lined each trough with screen mesh to prevent soil from washing through the drainage holes.
  • Finally, we filled the troughs with a mixture of organic potting soil, compost, top soil, and organic veg fertilizer…and had fun planting!

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