By GEOFF MIERS
The uses of bath tubs in the home garden are almost limitless: A water feature or fish pond, a worm farm, algae farm or composter, as a second bath or a makeshift cooling-off plunge pool, as a planter or as a wicking bed bath tubs are definitely multi-functional.
As great fish ponds they have the depth necessary to allow for successful aquatic plant growth and give enough depth to allow for the water temperature to remain suitable for fish and other aquatic creatures introduced into the fish pond.
Aside from being mostly quite expensive most modern fibre-glass fish ponds are simply too shallow for this climate unless placed under a protective shade cover.
Bath tubs are ideal fish ponds as they not only have the depth however as a free standing feature or when sunk into the ground they are literally fool-proof, are cheap to create and install and will not leak when provided with a good plug.
They are easy to disguise with concrete capers or flag stones when installed in the ground or if the bath tub is old fashioned and has legs you can use its design to effect as an element of design within the garden.
Bath tubs make for great worm farms. The bath should be assembled on a frame or bricks on a slight angle to facilitate good drainage and should be elevated at least 30cm off the ground so that valuable liquid worm fertiliser can be collected with ease.
The worm farm bath should be installed in a warm but lightly to moderately shaded and protected location for best results. A fine mesh filter should be installed over the plug hole to prevent worms from escaping.
A base of coarse twigs and straw should be installed initially followed by a layer of old cow manure and some semi-decomposed compost. To this mix, once moistened, a handful of worms should be introduced.
From here add vegetable scraps, animal manures and other suitable food items ranging from vacuum cleanings to hair, shredded paper and other suitable worm food products.
The items in the bath should be kept covered with a protective sheet of hessian or coarse material. This will allow the soil to breathe while limiting loss of moisture due to evaporation.
A drainage can should be placed under the plug hole, this liquid is like gold for the home gardener as it is such a rich complete fertiliser.
For the person living in a small unit, where couch grass is a problem, the soil is infested with eel worms or nematodes and for people with a bad back a bath tub elevated on a stand makes for an easy, cheap, no fuss container garden.
The bath tub can be filled with potting soil or clean weed and pest free top soil and into this a herb garden can be created. Alternatively six to 10 varieties of vegetables can be introduced into the tub, enough to provide fresh produce for one to two people.
Alternatively bulbs or flowering annuals can be cultivated in this elevated container garden. Bulbs and perennial plants may also be added.
Baths being reasonably sized make for great fertiliser makers and are able to produce regular quantities of liquid fertiliser for the entire garden.
Fill the bath one-third full with fresh cow manure or a mix of animal manures, add water and apply a protective cover to eliminate any pest or smell problems.
Weekly scoop out a quantity of the liquid and dilute to the strength of week tea and apply to the garden with outstanding results.
Alternatively these second hand bath tubs make for great outside baths or dip pools for cooling off. Simply find a cool shady private spot and install the bath and have it plumbed in. They are great fun, the kids will certainly enjoy them.
Of recent times bath tubs have become quite sought after items as they make great wicking beds once you have sealed the plug hole.
They will never leak (the most common problem with many plastic lines wicking beds) and if installed on a frame they can easily be elevated so no bending down to tend the vegetable garden.
What was once turfed into the landfill the humble second-hand bath tub is generally now a sought after item as they are so functional with so many varied uses.
Old unwanted bath tubs can generally be found at the Rediscovery Centre at the Alice Springs Landfill, they are literally coming in weekly.