Pig Trough Gardening

I visited our local auction house T W Gaze last week looking for some plants, however in the Deadstock Meadow sale I saw a pig trough aka a pig feeder. Made from cast iron it is very heavy yet I wondered if I could make it do duty as a plant pot. These are sometimes referred to as Mexican hats and you can see why.


A Mexican Hat

I used it to disguise a manhole cover in one of the flower beds, they are unsightly things and I like to make them disappear. If you look closely you’ll see the concrete support for it at the side of the pig trough.

There is a problem in using it as a plant pot, it has no drainage holes. I understand that cast iron can be drilled but that it isn’t easy as the iron is so hard, so it’s best done with a pillar drill, also cast iron screams like a pig when drilled, in any case I don’t have a pillar drill. I’ve tried an alternative method, that is to put a good layer of gravel in the bottom of the trough then fill with compost. Rather than planting directly into the compost the plants are left in their pots and covered with compost so that the pot can’t be seen and it is isolated, to some extent, from the compost, which is merely decorative. I suppose that I could have used gravel only and filled the trough with it, come to think of it that may be a better idea. Does anyone have a view on this?


To cover the top of the hat I cut the bottom off an old terracotta pot using a grinder and sat the pot on top of the trough. I had intended to use a recycled chimney pot from the same auction but unfortunately I didn’t win that lot so used a plant pot instead. I haven’t given up on the chimney pot idea, I’ll watch out for one in future auctions. Planted in the pot is a delicate looking fuchsia with relatively tall wispy flowers to echo, I hope, the hostas and heucheras around the trough. Do you think this works?

The trough cost £15 plus buyer’s premium of 15% plus VAT on the premium, so the total cost was £17.70, to me that’s not too high a price for an unusual planter that also serves to cover an eyesore in the flower bed.


The finished article


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