I love a good upcycling project. When I was writing Raised Bed Revolution, it was important to me to include raised bed ideas that didn’t require woodworking skills. Not everyone has the tools or the space to build a raised bed. However, there are so many options that don’t involve a lot of effort to get set up—old stock tanks, kits, fabric raised beds, an old suitcase or drawer, or an old washbasin. With some of these, you’re simply drilling a few holes for drainage.
On a particularly fruitful antique shopping outing, I found an old washbasin that I instantly knew would make a perfect raised bed for a small space. I decided to add a little extra to this project by mounting it on sawhorse legs, but you could just drill holes in your washbasin and call it a day.
Here are some tips for creating a raised bed from an old washbasin
Use a drill with a high-speed steel (HSS) drill bit to create multiple drainage holes on the bottom of the washbasin. Be sure to wear work gloves, and ear and eye protection, as well.
Over the last three years, I have planted the washbasin on a sawhorse leg platform, which raises it off the ground, keeping out pests, like bunnies and raccoons, and right on the ground, making it a bit more vulnerable to critters. Case in point: This summer I’d been patiently waiting for peppers to ripen. Two were close, but after returning from a weekend away during which time they ripened, something had taken a huge bite out of one of them!
Making the sawhorse legs to support the washbasin raised bed
I liked the idea of keeping the washbasin up and off the ground, so I used a pair of old sawhorse legs that my dad had in the back of his shed. He helped me figure out the best way to create a platform on which the washbasin could safely sit.
The 2×4 was placed between the sawhorse brackets and attached with screws through the premade holes. Then a piece of plywood was fastened to the ends of the 2×4 (between the brackets, as shown above).
Planting the washbasin raised bed
My washbasin is nine inches deep, so it works for both above- and below-ground plants. In other words, you could plant a nice patio variety of tomato or pepper, or you could go the root veggie route. That first autumn, I planted Early Wonder Tall Top beets, Romeo baby carrots, White Icicle radishes, Red-Cored Chantenay carrots, Rainbow Swiss chard, and Leaf lettuce. With that fall’s warm temperatures, I was enjoying root vegetables well into late October, early November!
Last year, I experimented and planted fingerling potatoes. I got a decent harvest, but you couldn’t really mound the soil easily around the plants once they reached a certain height, so I probably wouldn’t plant my potatoes in the washbasin again.
In 2017, I planted a few pepper plants in my washbasin raised bed!
I’ll leave you with one more washbasin idea…
What have you upcycled into a raised bed?
I love this idea! My husband bought a big metal tub at a yard sale a couple of weekends ago. The lady selling it told us that she got it from a house in the neighborhood — apparently it was an indoor fireplace insert. It is copper (I think)? We are planning to use it as a gardening bed.