By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Does RVing mean you can’t enjoy gardening? Absolutely not! An RV bumper garden is easy to build and keeps fresh greens practically at your doorstep.
Hit the lumberyard for a few cedar fence boards and construct a “loose” bottomed box in a size your rear bumper will accommodate. We held ours together with galvanized metal corner brackets, the end result being a one-foot by four-foot box. A little open space where the bottom meets the edges allows for water drainage.
Connecting the bumper planter to our “square tube” bumper required a little finesse. Just screwing the planter into the bumper proved too unstable, what with the weight of the soil taken into account. We built a custom bracket to moor the box securely. We laid two strips of “plumber’s tape” perpendicular to the bumper, one at each end of the planter box. Holes were drilled through the planter box to run appropriately sized carriage bolts through the tape and box bottom, one on each side of the bumper. At the far end of the bolts we put another strap of plumber’s tape, and used lock washers and nuts to firmly strap the box to the bumper. Total requirements? Four carriage bolts, washers, and nuts, plus four plumber’s tape straps.
To enhance the “drainability,” add a layer of gravel and top it off with good-quality planting soil. Our first “sowing” included tomatoes, both the “cherry” variety and larger slicers, good for use on hamburgers — guess who’s talking here! As the tomatoes got taller we added stakes to support the vines. These were uprights screwed into the planter box, with garden twine to help support the plants and their stakes against road bounce. In cool country we covered the uprights and twine with plastic to keep out the cold.
We’ve gardened tomatoes, strawberries and beans, but of course, taller plants like row corn might not be able to hold their ground as well in the planter box. Our beans are the bush variety, and when they get too tall, we may need to relocate the license plate for the sake of visibility. Maybe keeping shorter plants on that side of the planter box would have been wiser. The “intensive” method of gardening will lend itself well to mobile gardening. You are indeed dealing with a postage-stamp size bit of soil, and the more you can pack in, the better off you’ll be — done properly. Keeping your plants trimmed will help them bush out at the bottom, which seems to do better.
Handle it right and you can put a whole new meaning on the phrase, “bumper crop”!