When my allotment plot started to get full, I decided I needed a way to utilise the fencing around the edge properly. The idea I came up with was gutter planters. Here’s how I set them up and plant them up.
Before I get onto how I set it up, just let me talk about the guttering itself. I used the deeper “Square” profile guttering rather than the regular U-shaped stuff. This just makes it deeper and allows me to get a higher volume of compost in there.
1. Screw Onto Fence
I screwed the guttering to my fence with multiple screws spaced 15-20cm apart. I put plenty in as your gutter will get surprisingly heavy with lots of wet compost in it.
You could use the proper gutter supports that are meant for this job, but they aren’t cheap and double the cost of the setup, so I just went for screws.
2. Edge Caps
Above is a proper edge cap that I got from B&Q, along with the guttering. These just clip on and are easy to use. Again though, they are expensive and cost as much as the guttering itself.
Instead, I used some white duck tape over the edges for most of my gutters. This has been on for two years now and is still working well.
I know it won’t last forever but it’s not hard to put some new stuff on!
3. Drainage Holes
You will need somewhere for the water to drain out. I went along with my cordless drill and just put a series of holes in the lowest point.
It is important you get these in wherever your lowest point is going to be as this is where the rainwater will collect and sit.
4. Compost Mix
Using the right compost mix is important here. There isn’t much soil, so it needs to be fertile stuff. Also, with how little soil there is, they will quickly dry out, so we also want to address this as much as we can.
I make my mix in a wheelbarrow.
First off, I chuck in a load of high-quality compost.
Then I add lots of vermiculite. This is an important step as vermiculite will help to retain moisture in the soil, meaning it can last longer without needing to be watered.
Next up I add some 6x chicken manure, just to really up the nutrient levels in this mix.
then get your hands in there and really mix up all these ingredients.
5. Planting Up
Planting up is simple enough, but there is one important thing to remember. That is to not overdo it, we don’t have a whole lot of soil here, so keeping your plants spaced well apart is important.
You need to water these gutters regularly, in the middle of summer, that is every day. So don’t commit to setting these up unless you can be at the allotment every day or set up some form of irrigation system.
I also regularly feed any plants in these gutters with fish blood and bone to make sure they get all the goodness they need!