The Bucket

When I moved into my house over 20 years ago there were two things left in the basement: a very old refrigerator, and a metal paint bucket.

The bucket sat in a corner of the basement for at least 15 years before I came to appreciate the beauty in "well-used" objects like this, and how they can contribute to the garden.


So outside it went, where I used it as a small planter for water-loving plants the first year, but it's been used mainly as decoration and as a utility bucket since then.

I love the thick buildup of paint layers, but I noticed last summer that the paint was starting to peel away from the bottom inside the bucket:

I thought that was a bit strange, but never thought to examine it more closely. The other day I grabbed this to carry some water down to the veggie beds (too cold to get out the hose), and finally noticed why the paint in the bottom was peeling:

Freeze damage! Weird that it took almost a year for me to pick it up and look underneath. I must not have moved it around much last year.

This was the first time I had used the bucket to water my edibles, and I realized that it should be the last too...

The peeling and cracked paint, as beautiful as it is, probably contains lead. I certainly don't want to be watering my food plants with lead-contaminated water! I don't know how quickly lead leaches into water so it may be fine to fill from the tap and pour immediately, but rainwater that collects here for hours or days will certainly contain something nasty.

So I'll most likely flatten out the bottom a bit, drill a few drainage holes, and make this a decorative planter for something non-edible. Put it out to pasture, so to speak. I'm certainly not throwing it away, as I still love this bucket!

Do you have any old "junk" items in your garden that you love?


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My Kids' Mom  – (April 4, 2013 at 8:35 AM)  

We removed a bunch of privet and English ivy and found some iron... things. My kids think they're part of a train. I'll try to link to them. I really have no idea what they are, but I like them leaning against my mailbox.

sandy lawrence –   – (April 4, 2013 at 9:28 AM)  

Definitely singing my song with the old bucket. Love found 'junk' for the garden, especially if it's metal. 2 faves in my garden are a collection of old funnels of various sizes hanging on a tree in a group and planted w/succulents and double square washtubs on legs planted with native blackberries.

Lisa  – (April 4, 2013 at 10:41 AM)  

Beauty in odd places is what gardening is all about! And found beauty is even better!

danger garden  – (April 4, 2013 at 11:10 AM)  

I've got a very old metal watering can that was my great grandma's. I love that thing, even though sometimes the tip falls off and what was a nice gentle shower of water becomes a powerful stream which can damage a tender plant.

Steve Lau  – (April 4, 2013 at 8:56 PM)  

Looks like your garlic is really making a lot of progress

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