The opportunity for “deckening*” is at hand, right out my door. However I’ve never loved growing plants in pots, at least not as a sole point of interest. In fact, when I get to the section on the latest container garden arrangements in nearly any and all gardening publication I hastily skip to the next article. Those people who put them together, the designers, always seem a bit stuffy and the pairings far too contrived for my liking. Now I see I’ve been short sighted and just a tad bit snobby.

I’ve decided it’s time to embrace my inner, container gardener.  Starting with a few native, drought tolerant or otherwise edible selections: Rosemary, party favor olives (a wedding guest gift), my poor soaproot – which is hanging on by a thread, blue fescue and some very fine Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii) to name a few. Being one of those designers, I figure it’s about time.

My latest project is a raised veggie bed made from a galvanized steel watering trough. It’s a pre-fab, portable, hip meets urban farm solution with virtually zero risk of rotting. Perfect for deckening.

First, I measured then purchased a trough to fit the allotted space. Drilled drain holes along the bottom and placed the trough on 1/2 inch wooden slats to prevent it from sitting directly on the deck. This also creates a drop shadow, adding an element of visual interest. Finally, I filled the bed with a locally made organic planting mixture (mostly compost) and planted a no-fuss combination of scarlet runner beans, strawberries, sunflowers, calendula and nasturtium.

I’ve installed a drip irrigation system sourced from a deck-level spigot. It’s equipped with a timer, filter and backflow device.  I appreciate the task of hand watering but my schedule is unreliable and potted plants can quickly suffer from missed or inconsistent watering. Fruits and vegetables in particular often become stressed and therefore prone to disease, infestation, irregular fruting and bolting.

My new planter may not work out as I intended but it’s not for the lack of trying.  And, right now, it’s pretty darn satisfying.

*Deckening: the act of gardening on a deck environment.  Typically in pots or other containers.  AKA, a container garden.


  1. I have a very similar container. My garden output was just so-so last year. I am wondering if the steel container makes the soil get too hot…… any thoughts? It could be that I
    Lasted too late, etc. not sure. I was considering pulling the soil out, and added the foam sheets of insulation along the inside vertical walls. Thoughts?

    • Hi! Thanks for writing. I haven’t had trouble with the soil overheating but I guess it would depend on your climate. Perhaps if you’re in a climate with summer temperatures like the South West, it could be a concern but less so the bigger the container. If you’re having trouble with your plantings it could be helpful to replace a bunch of the soil with the highest quality organic potting mix/planting mix possible and amend with worm castings and compost. That should do the trick.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.