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Wine barrels - how to make them last?

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Justin starts with ...
I am wanting to grow some edibles (eg. blueberries, dwarf fruit trees etc) in wine barrels. However, they're fairly expensive and I'd like them to last. Can anyone advise me how long they will last with a fruit tree in them and being watered frequently? Also, I've seen some mention on the net about waterproofing them with bitumen paint, which will make them last longer, but as I want to grow organically, that idea doesn't really fly with me. Does anyone have other suggestions on how to maximise the life of wine barrels without introducing harmful chemicals?

Thanks.
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Justin
Melbourne
11th August 2009 3:35pm
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Jimmy says...
linseed oil works well.
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Jimmy
 
11th August 2009 6:00pm
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Speedy says...
To maximize life of barrels keep them full of liquid, this ensures that moisture levels are even throughout the barrel and that the wood remains swollen and sealed.
A barrel that has been alowed to dry out will leak until it has been soaked and will seal up again.

But used as planter, moisture levels vary from vey wet at the head to dry at the bilge ( where the barrel is cut in half).

I'd also suggest three of those terracotta 'pot feet' under the chime hoop (metal hoop that secures the head) for each half barrel planter to keep the them off the ground.
this will help slow the inevitable rotting of the barrel head by keeping the outside of it as dry as possible.

you may need to use tacks or small nails to hold the bilge and quarter hoops in place to prevent them dropping when the barrel staves shrink in dry weather.

whenever you water the plants in them, wet the entire outside of the barrels to keep them sealed as much as possible.
They're a problem when they're allowed to dry out (potting mix and barrel)any very difficult, time consuming and take a lot of water to rewet properly.

For drainage, 5-6x 20mm holes drilled through the head should suffice.

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NW Vic
12th August 2009 9:03am
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Justin says...
Thanks all for your advice, I think I'm ready to get going now!
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12th August 2009 12:39pm
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amanda says...
Hey Justin - the Daleys catalogue talks about growing the tree in tree sacks that then go into the pot - (cover top with mulch or such to disguise) - I thought this was a good idea as it would make re-potting/refreshing the soil much easier? It would also extend the life of your barrels a great deal.
You can cut thru a grow bag to get the tree out - how do u get it out of a wine barrel tho'...?
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amanda19
Geraldton. WA
13th August 2009 9:11am
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Justin says...
Hmm, good point, Amanda!
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Justin
Melbourne
15th August 2009 12:42pm
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doug says...
I am a newbie here and was looking for advice about these pots.

I have in the past used a mix of turpentine linseed oil and bees wax for wood preserving.

Heat the mix so the bees wax dissolves and paint on while hot. BE CAREFUL with the heating as it can be a flammable mix and is quite hot when fresh.

I guess you could leave out the turps or use plant based turpentine if you were concerned about organic stuff.

I usually just use this mix for decking timbers.

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doug3
cowwarr
17th March 2010 2:03pm
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Wayne says...
Thanks for that tip Doug, I'm about to start making outdoor furniture so will keep that in mind.
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Wayne
Mackay QLD
18th March 2010 6:17am
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Mick says...
At my place there was an old barrel with soil in it but it was in serious disrepair (not even close to waterproof). I emptied it out, lined the sides (not the bottom, just the sides) with black plastic, and potted a fig in it. The fig is a couple of metres tall now and it all seems to be holding up OK - any life I get out of the barrel is a bonus as it was already past it.

The advantage of the plastic lining is that it doesn't dry out too quickly.
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Mick1
Brisbane
18th March 2010 11:37am
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Itdepends says...
And don't put them on bare dirt like I did in the vege garden. 12-18month later and termites have made it out through the tops of the staves.

If you want blueberries in your garden- try buying cheaper plastic pots and burying them in the ground (top of the pot level with the soil but covered with mulch).

Regards,

Daniel
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19th March 2010 3:03pm
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BJ says...
Daniel
(totally not relevant to preservign wine barrels) that is exactly what I ended up doing with my blueberries. I just couldn't stabalise the pH so now the are in pots, in the ground! No termites in the plastic!
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BJ11
 
19th March 2010 4:43pm
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