23 February, 2013

What do you do with an old wheelbarrow?

We go through a lot of wheelbarrows here in South Englishtown.  Six days a week they are used to move seagrass that has washed to shore to the back of the lot for composting.   Allen rakes up about 200 feet of seafront, and that amounts to a lot of seagrass.  The wheelbarrows are also used to move sand to cover new paths that we make and to fill in low spots.  That is a near daily chore, too.  We use them to cart our diesel and gasoline that we have to bring by boat from Independence from the dock to the generator shed.  They get used to offload building supplies like bags on concrete, sacks of river sand and gravel.  They have even been used to mix cement on more than one occasion.  We go through a lot of wheelbarrows and we come across their spent carcasses at the edges of our property. 
I went to take photos of this yellow-flowering vine and discovered a wheelbarrow.
Usually, it is the metal parts that attach the wheel to the barrow that rust out and give way.  But once they are dumped in the brush, the termites are quick to find the handles.
The discolored brown on the handles is from termites.
 It struck me that we could use the barrow part as containers for the container plants we are starting.  So Dennis used his cordless sawzall to cut away the metal parts and remove the handles.  The bolt holes in the bottom will serve as drainage holes for the containers.
Here is one of the 3 (!) discarded wheelbarrows filled with what passes for soil in South Englishtown.
The black plastic body also makes a good base to sterilize the soil.  The sun is so intense that we can cover the soil with black plastic and after 5 or so days of sun, the soil is pretty sterile.

Black plastic is held in place temporarily by coconuts until we get it tucked in all the way around.
 We have some fig cuttings rooted, and some seedlings of Malay apples (not apples at all) and Jamaica limes that will find their way into the barrows with their nice sterile soil.
Fig cuttings (to the left) are ready to plant.  The 2 Malay apples (back) need to get bigger first, as do the Jamaica lime seedlings.
The Malay apples aren't especially sweet, but they are very juicy and crispy in an almost styrofoamy way.  That doesn't sound too appetizing, but they are great in salads and fruit salads.  The Jamaica limes are green on the outside, like a normal lime, with orange flesh inside.  They have a tangy flavor that is similar to Kaffir limes.  The trees are prolific bearers of fruit.  

All of these plants will do well in containers where we can protect them from soil pests, land crabs, and coati.  Might be easier to keep birds away, too.  Most of the containers will ultimately be placed on our back veranda.  We will make stands to lift them off the veranda floor and hold the barrows level.  We need way more than 3 barrows, so off to scavenge more wheelbarrows from the brush ...


  1. Great bit of recycling Wilma.

    A shame that some people just dump them in the first place though.

    1. Thanks, Keith. You should see what gets dumped around here. We will clean up what we can so that at least our area is unspoiled.

  2. You can make very comfy rocking chairs out of them too.

    mmmmm Coconut mmmmm

    Very much enjoyed the story of Dennis and the car.

  3. Wilma.
    Have you ever considered lining them and turning them into small ponds,it is suprising what you can get in a little one.

    1. Hi Ken. Have been thinking of a small pond or maybe a "water feature" on our deck with a solar powered pump for aeration. We will wait on a pond until after other construction is done just to keep it easier for the crew to get around. Would hate for someone to fall into a wheelbarrow and drown! Thanks for the suggestion.

  4. Well done, doing your 'green' bit for the environment. A brilliant idea, as is Ken's idea of using one as a pond though I wonder how quickly it would dry out in your dry season.

    1. Thanks, John. We do have a good supply of slightly brackish water that we could pump into a pond if need be. I will put some further thought into it. The other "green" thing we will do is convert an old chest freezer into the body of a cold smoker to smoke fish in. The freezer "washed up" on our beach during some high water. Probably from where someone dumped it in the mangroves.


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