Floating Garden

When I first started my job here at Polyface there were a couple things in the garden that Joel really wanted to see utilized.  One of which was the floating garden that is in one of the ponds here on the farm.  I was kind of skeptical of how things would grow on it, but I am really glad that I tried it because I have been pleasantly surprised.  In March I planted it with broccoli and cabbage plants.

The floating garden has several things that make it really interesting.  For the construction it is exactly what it looks like, PVC pipe tied together with compost on top.  It sits low enough in the water and the cracks are just big enough between the pipe that I never have to water it.  I planted some broccoli and cabbage in the ground and the worms found it right way but the floating bed was just about pest free.                 When I plant it in the fall I am going to watch and see, but I think that things should be able to grow a little bit longer because the water temperature will take a little longer to reach the air temperature and therefore act as a little micro climate for whatever I plant on the bed.   It is also great for the fish because when it is out on the pond it provides shade for them in the summer.   Of course the fish make it great for the plants too.  I am sure that there are many other benefits about the floating garden that I don’t know about but these are some of the ones that Joel told me and that I have noticed myself.Last week I was excited to see little broccoli heads and on Tuesday I picked my first broccoli of the year!

Has anyone else done a floating garden before?  I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about it!


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About Leanna Hale

Leanna Barth, born and raised in NC, first came to Polyface in July 2010 to attend one of the Intensive Discovery Seminars. She loved it so much that she applied for an internship position and was accepted for the 2011 season, after which she took the inventory/gardener position. Before coming to Polyface, she sold produce from her family’s market garden, along with homemade baked goods. This venture was mostly inspired by having read “You Can Farm” by Joel Salatin. Having always loved the outdoors, animals, and gardening Leanna is excited about this coming year, all that she will learn, and how the Lord will use this job later on in her life.

23 Responses to Floating Garden

  1. Caitlyn M. says:

    Genius idea!! I’ve heard of this, but have yet to try it. Now I am inspired to make my own and see what happens! 🙂

  2. ken anastasi says:

    WOW! That’s a first for me,
    never saw a floating garden.

  3. I read that in one of his books years ago but haven’t done anything with the idea. We were thinking of a floating duck house though.

  4. Shawna Barr says:

    ok, maybe i’m slow, but how do you get out there to tend it?

    • Leanna Hale says:

      There is a rope tied to the raft and when I need to work on it I just pull it in and secure it to the bank.

  5. Beckie says:

    This is so cool. Wish we had enough land to do this!

  6. Tonia says:

    Oh how neat! No pond for me to try it on though..

  7. Mrs H says:

    Whoa! I have never seen this before. I, too, am wondering how you go out to tend it, does it support the weight of a person moving around on it? What a great utilization of space and resources (water, fish).

    • Leanna Hale says:

      There is just a rope tied to it so I can pull it in whenever I need to and it easily supports my weight when I need to tend to it.

  8. Louis Pavlin says:

    Hey there, my name is Louis.
    First time on this sight. I love the essence of what you are doing and it looks like you’ve got it working really well.
    I’d like to offer a few thoughts.
    We have done a similar thing before using large pieces of Bamboo tied together. It works really well. When harvesting the Bamboo make sure you only harvest trunks/culms that are over 3 years old and also make sure you harvest them in the winter. this will mean they will last a lot longer.
    I have big concerns about using PVC for such a project. PVC is very toxic and I would never use it for growing food. It’s actually banned in Germany because of it’s toxicity.
    Best wishes.

  9. Ruth Anton says:

    Amazing. And amazingly simple. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Grace says:

    Like Joel says, “Leanna’s a keeper!” Love your creativity!

  11. Dyan says:

    This is totally cool!

    Just today I was saying to my husband, “Its time for me to make my ‘habitat’.” This would translate into a for-the-most-part floating dock on our pond. For a couple years I’ve wanted to make it into a little floating island for the turtles and frogs to congregate on and, hopefully, some ducks might choose it to nest on. But your idea is GREAT!

    We moved from the Seattle area to 20 acres in “nowhere” Montana almost 3 years ago to an off-the-grid solar house. We are living our dream; embracing a more independent lifestyle. We are avid fans of Joel’s writings and are continually inspired by all that is going on at Polyface. And THIS is just one more example!

    Thanks for sharing.


  12. Leilani says:

    Love the floating bed, if we ever get out if this drought (beryl will help a bit) and have water in the pond again I will definitely build one of these.

  13. Leilani says:

    Love the floating bed! Our pond is dry but hopefully Beryl will help with the drought we are in.

  14. Nicola Cunha says:

    Here’s a link to PVC info at the Greenpeace website so you can decide for yourself … http://bit.ly/fnxRV8

    • Louis Pavlin says:

      Thanks Nicola for that link. Really helpful. I find it amazing that here in Australia we continue to use both PVC and Polystyrene for both packaging and growing food in. Both being highly toxic and again both banned in many European countries from being associated with food. Living in such an industrialised society I feel we need to be very careful about what products (recycled or new) we choose to use for growing food. Another example is growing food in old car tyres, which I have heard have very high levels of Cadmium (a dangerous heavy metal). Yet people are often encouraged to grow potatoes in them.
      Anyway these are concerns for me. I’d be interested to here if anyone else has similar concerns.
      Best wishes Louis.

  15. daisyglitter says:

    If I had a pond, I would love to try this! My parents live on a lake and someone made a floating habitat for the loons to nest on. Very cool idea!

  16. audio design says:

    All the pictures of the floating garden in the article are looking very amazing. I think this is very difficult to prepare a floating garden in the pond.

  17. Patty johnson says:

    Very interested in trying this next spring please email me, I have some questions.

  18. Janet says:

    We have been thinking of a floating garden because we live in a woods with no sun. We have lots of squirrels that eat everything, including the neighbors fruit off their trees. We also have to content with the deer so we want to make a floating raft to plant a garden on so it will get sun and the animals can’t get to it. We want to grow tomatoes and other vegetables in 5 gal buckets with wicks. We need to find a way to keep it out in the water and bring it in. Rope will not work because the squirrels will cross over the rope. Any suggestions for us? thanks

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