Garden Recycling: Growing Greens in a Belfast Sink
One person’s trash is another person’s planter
Last year I noticed an old beat up Belfast sink at our allotment community garden. There’s a path that leads from the carpark to the field and someone had left the sink just off to the side of it like they’d unloaded it and were going to move it onto their plot. It sat there for six months before I decided I was going to take it home and give it new life.
You can use any sturdy container to grow plants and vegetables in, just so long as it has drainage and isn’t contaminated by toxic substances. A stoneware sink with a built-in drain is perfect for the task but you could also use plastic tubs, old bath tubs, and troughs.
It was a task getting the sink home
I actually damaged my car getting the thing home though and probably hurt my back a little in the process. It doesn’t look that big but it weighs a ton! 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of dead weight to be exact. I managed to get it into the passenger side of my little car, scraping the inner part of the door frame in the process. Even if I had photos of it I wouldn’t be sharing them here – I remember a great deal of huffing and puffing and a few expletives.
At home I fortunately have a big guy to help me move it around and Josh set it off to the side of the drive where it waited out the winter.
Patio Container Garden
I have a container garden peppering the patio around my greenhouse where I grow herbs, strawberries, and salad greens. It’s a lot more convenient to have these kind of foods growing in a place where you can nip out with a bowl and scissors when you need to.
It took two people to move the sink into its place in front of my greenhouse but we did it in the end. It’s there for two reasons: full sun throughout the day and to keep my greenhouse from moving in the wind. I don’t have it bolted down but the heavy containers and wall of the house keeps it secure.
Planting the Belfast Sink up with greens
With a natural outlet for water already, it being a sink and all, it was easy to plant the sink up. This is how I did it:
- Filled the bottom of the sink with 1″ of gravel. This is to provide further drainage and to stop soil from washing down the sink hole.
- On top of the gravel I filled the rest of the sink with peat-free multi-purpose compost.
- Once filled, I sprinkled Coriander (Cilantro) seeds on the left side of the sink and Rocket (Arugula) on the right.
- A light sprinkling of compost on top, a firming down, and watering the container finished the task.
Growing at home provides you with fresh greens while saving money
Six weeks on and I have an overabundance of Rocket and the Coriander is just starting to grow. The Rocket is making a peppery addition to salads, rice, and snacks like this dill and tuna wrap I had a couple of days ago.
Being able to walk outside and pick fresh greens is not only convenient but it will save you a lot on fresh, wholesome foods. It’s also a way to eat healthier while saving money. A packet of seeds costs about the same as a sachet of supermarket greens but will give you ten times the amount.
When the greens are all spent, I’ll pull the plants up, replace some of the compost in the top of the sink, and re-sow with new seeds.
Other helpful information
Learn more about my greenhouse set-up and container garden in this post where I walk you through all the food I grow on the patio. For more tips on gardening on a budget, check out this guest post by Woman of the Soil where we’re given some great ideas on how to garden and eat well on the cheap.