For the past thirty years – since my now-grown son was still in a child restraint seat – my old antique pickup truck has had a diminutive but productive potager garden overstuffed with flowers, herbs, and vegetables. That’s right, the working truck has a working garden in the back!
I started it out from frustration with one too many people whining about not having a place to garden. Thinking “What’d be the hardest place, the acid test, to give it a go?” I decided to try it in the back of my pickup truck.
At first I planted in various size bags of potting soil; I now plant in a custom-crafted metal box with drainage holes on the rear allow water to drain away from rather than under the garden. My potting soil includes a crucial “green roof” material – kitty litter-size heat-expanded slate, which helps with drainage and aeration for deeper root growth, and reduces weight to help with gas mileage. I fertilize very lightly with timed-release Osmocote® beads, and water as needed.
After decades of failing miserably with countless hapless plants (thinking about adding a small compost pile to one side of my planter box), I’ve settled on a surprising palette that survive the harsh conditions with at most a little foliage burn. Nobody takes care of the garden when I’m in my English summer and winter home for weeks or months on end, so I’m usually on pins to see what survives on rainfall alone and no protection from cold.
For more on which plants I have found to do well, visit the lengthier blog page here. I’ve even photographed butterflies and bees in this mobile pollinator garden!
Oh, and I tend to over-accessorize the truck garden. There are sideboards made of salvaged registration plates (“car tags” where I live) wrapped around wooden runners, a gardenesque bird house and cheery antique gnome, a silver eagle hood ornament from England, and a pair of custom-crafted metal “bottle tree” sconces. And, ironically, a small Slow Gardening sign.
I’m not the only truck gardener. But I’m pretty sure mine has the most miles on it, after being driven from West Texas to South Florida, and to Minnesota, Vermont Michigan, and literally everywhere in between – 34 states, over 300,000 miles and still counting. Many lecture requests include a hopeful “are you driving your truck garden?”…
…and I’m beginning to think more people want to see the garden than they do ME!
Meanwhile if worst comes to worst and my truck sets me down on the side of the road, while waiting for AAA to come rescue us I have enough vegetables and culinary herbs to eat road kill…