VegTrug Raised Planter Reviews

VegTrug Raised Planter: Product Review


VegTrug Raised Planter

Aching back? Sore hips? Tired of bending over to tend to your plants? Then you may be interested in the VegTrug, a large raised planter that puts your flowers and veggies at waist height.

large carton

The VegTrug comes in a very large and heavy box

The VegTrug arrived on my doorstep well packed in a large carton. When I opened it, everything was secured in place and undamaged.

The package is very heavy – you’ll probably need two people to move it. Mine sat on the front porch for a couple of days until my husband helped me bring it into the back yard.

Inside the carton you’ll find the wood parts that make up the planter, hardware to attach the parts, a fabric liner that goes inside the planter, and instructions.

Assembling the VegTrug

Unpacking the VegTrug Raised Planter

Unpacking the VegTrug Raised Planter

Assembly required a Phillips screwdriver (although I recommend using a drill with a driver bit or an impact driver – there are a lot of screws to fasten and using a screwdriver would quickly become tiring), an adjustable wrench (to tighten the nuts on the leg bolts), and a hammer or rubber mallet (to drive the bolts through the legs).

Assembly and care instructions are in very, very small print – I practically needed a magnifying glass to read them. But there’s a helpful video on YouTube showing how to assemble the VegTrug and it’s not really that complicated. The most important thing is to get the entire thing square and level before screwing the parts together.

hardware is well organized

The screws and bolts are well organized

The screws and bolts come attached to cardboard backing and are clearly labeled. This makes it simple to tell which parts you need and whether or not you have enough (there are plenty of spare screws included).

When putting the bolts into the leg pieces, you’ll need a small hammer to tap them into place – otherwise, the bolts won’t go all the way through and you can’t put the nut on.

I assembled the VegTrug by myself in about an hour. It definitely would’ve been easier with a second pair of hands, but it’s certainly possible to do it by your self.

Make sure that all of the parts go in exactly as specified in the instructions. If you put something in backwards or upside-down, the next pieces won’t fit.

Assembling the VegTrug

Assembling the VegTrug

I found that the boards that go around the top edge of the VegTrug didn’t fit very well. It could be that my assembly was a little “off” but it also looked like the side boards were a little too long. Several screws had nothing to screw into…

Once assembled, the VegTrug was very stable – there was no rocking or twisting, even when the planter was lifted and moved.

Note: Assemble the VegTrug where you intend to use it (or near that area). It’s heavy when empty but impossible to move when filled with soil.

Adequate Quality

The fabric liner was simple to place inside the planter and held up well when soil was dumped into the container.

Fabric liner in VegTrug Raised Planter

The fabric liner is easy to place inside the VegTrug

The wood smelled really nice when I opened the box (it’s made out of “FSC-certified, sustainable, plantation-grown fir”) but it’s a little soft. Fir is generally considered to be a “soft wood” and doesn’t tend to hold up well in outdoor conditions. After 4 months in the garden, it still looks OK but I’m curious to see how it looks after a winter.

All wood surfaces are coated with a food-safe stain that’s supposed to protect it from all kinds of weather. However, if you read the instructions carefully, it’s clear that you must stain the entire VegTrug several times a year in order to maintain that protection. Unless you remove all of the soil (and it’s a LOT of soil), you won’t be able to stain the inside of the container so I’m not sure how long the trug will really last, especially here in the northeast where we get a lot of sun, rain, and snow.

placing the fabric liner

After placing the inner fabric

The legs are capped with a black plastic cap that’s supposed to protect them from wicking up moisture (which would rot the wood). Unfortunately, these caps aren’t attached to the legs – during assembly, they kept falling off and it was a pain to put them back on. Once the trug is fully assembled, don’t lift it up to move it or the caps will fall off!

Because the caps aren’t sealed onto the legs, water drips down the legs and settles into the caps during watering or a rain shower. As a result, the ends of the legs sit in water and wick it up, contributing to wood rot and damage. You may want to consider running a bead of high quality silicone caulk around the inside and top of each cap before you assemble the VegTrug so that water can’t get into the cap.

Filling the VegTrug

The VegTrug holds 380 quarts of potting mix. That’s a lot of mix and the trug is extremely heavy after filling it. Be sure to place it where you want it before filling it with container mix because you will NOT be able to move it once it’s full.

I don’t recommend using garden soil to fill the VegTrug – it tends to be much heavier than potting mix, can harbor weed seeds, pests, or diseases, and can compact in a large container, making it harder to work with and potentially smothering plant roots. Instead, use a good container mix supplemented with high quality compost.

Watering your VegTrug

Like any container, the VegTrug will need frequent watering, particularly during the hot, dry summer months. Place it near a spigot or within easy reach of a garden hose. Or, better yet, install DIY drip irrigation on a timer.

The V-shaped design of the VegTrug is intended to accommodate both deeper-rooted plants (like tomatoes) in the middle and shallow-rooted plants around the outside. While that’s a good idea in theory, the reality is that the edges of the planter dry out much more quickly than the center does. That makes watering a bit of a problem – if you water to keep the plants along the outside moist, you risk over-watering the deeper rooted plants in the center.

Water drains well from the VegTrug (assuming that you’re using a good quality potting mix) so be sure to place it so that the run-off won’t damage anything nearby and, ideally, where the “waste” water can be used to water nearby plants.

Because the water drains freely, you may find nutrients leach from the planting mix more quickly, resulting in less vigorous plants. I recommend regularly using a high quality compost tea (I like Moo Poo Tea from Haven Brand) and occasional organic fertilizer to boost fruit/vegetable production.

What to Plant in Your VegTrug

Kitchen garden in VegTrug Raised Planter

A thriving kitchen garden after 3 months in the VegTrug

Don’t plant anything too tall or you won’t be able to reach it. Keep in mind that the VegTrug is already 31 ½” tall – planting a 4-foot tall plant in the middle would mean that the top is almost 7 feet above the ground! For example, look for shorter varieties of tomatoes (like the ‘Super Bush’ container tomato from Renee’s Garden Seeds – shown in the photo to right), bush beans (instead of pole beans), and dwarf corn.

In the photo at right, you’ll see 2 Super Bush tomatoes, 4 basil plants, 3 peppers, 1 rosemary, a summer squash, 3 bush beans, and 2 Swiss chard (hidden behind the tomato plants).

Everything has grown very well although it was difficult to get tomato cages into the planter due to the limited depth. I had to tie them to the deck railing to keep them from falling over.

Two Sizes and Colors

The VegTrug comes in two sizes:

  • 70″ L x 30″ W x 31-1/2″ H (holds 380 quarts of container mix) – this is the size reviewed by GPR
  • 39-1/4″ L x 30″ W x 31-1/2″ H (holds 190 quarts of container mix)

Choose a size based on the amount of space you have available and how much you want to grow. Although you can plant closely to get more into a limited space, the sloped bottom of the VegTrug limits what you can plant around the edges.

It’s available in the original yellow color, as well as in charcoal black.

Recommendation

4-shovel rating from GPRWe give the VegTrug a 4-shovel rating. There are a couple of quality questions (how the parts fit together, leg caps, problems staining the inside) that we’ll continue to evaluate and will keep you updated. But, overall, it’s easy to garden in the VegTrug and it brings the garden to you, rather than the other way round.

Where to Buy

The VegTrug can be purchased through Gardener’s Supply as well as directly from VegTrug Limited through Amazon where it’s available in the original yellowish color, as well as charcoal grey. Price depends on size – the large size sells for $279 and the smaller one for $199.

There are also VegTrug Greenhouse covers, insect covers, and shade covers. We haven’t evaluated them but they seem like they would be helpful for extending your growing season.

You can also buy replacement liners for the various size VegTrugs.

And finanlly, VegTrug also makes a variety of other planter styles. For one option, see our review of the VegTrug Poppy Planter.

And now over to you – Have you tried growing plants in a raised planter? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.

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Disclaimer – GPReview would like to thank Gardener’s Supply for giving us a free VegTrug to review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review and we received no compensation for writing it. All opinions expressed here are those of the author based on personal experience using the product.

Please note that the Amazon links (and only the Amazon links) above are affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase products through these links, GPReview will make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that helps to support this website and our gardening product reviews. Thank you!

Related Reviews

Disclaimer – GPReview would like to thank the manufacturer/distributor for giving us a free sample to review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review and we received no compensation for writing it. All opinions expressed here are those of the author based on personal experience using the product.

Please note that the Amazon links (and only the Amazon links) above are affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase products through these links, GPReview will make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that helps to support this website and our gardening product reviews. Thank you!

12 Comments on VegTrug Raised Planter: Product Review

  1. Paula

    This was our first summer with our veg trug and it worked out pretty well. However, we’re wondering if we should protect it somehow from our Chicago winters. We have the black finished model. I have the greenhouse top and plan to keep things going as long as possible. But I’m concerned about it standing in the cold and snow all winter. Are you planning on protecting yours somehow through the winter?

    • I plan to put a tarp over mine for the winter – not so much to protect the exterior of the VegTrug but to prevent wet soil from expanding and contracting with the freeze/thaw cycles (which could possibly cause the wood to bow or the screws to come loose). I’ll cover it once the soil is relatively dry. In your case, the greenhouse top should prevent too much water build-up in the soil so just cover it when the temperatures get too cold for the greenhouse. The other benefit to covering it with a tarp is that it will keep excess moisture away from the wood on the inside of the VegTrug which, hopefully, will help to prevent rot. Although the wood has been sealed, the sealant needs to be reapplied a couple of times a year for best protection. It’s easy enough to brush sealant on the exterior but since I don’t intend to remove all the soil just to seal with inside of the trug, I figure the next best thing is to try to minimize the risk of moisture damage by covering it during the winter…

      • Beth

        I am curious to know what type of sealant/oil you use to protect the vegtrug. Also would be interested in hearing how your vegtrug survived this brutal winter. I live in New England and just purchased the vegtrug wallhugger style. I too will be housing it outdoors all year round.

        • I coated the outside with Thompson’s Water Seal. I didn’t use that on the inside (in fact, I didn’t use anything on the interior) because I was growing veggies. We moved to Arizona in February and I left the VegTrug for the new owners of our house so I can’t tell you how it survived into the spring. But when we left in February, the VegTrug looked great. Even with all the snow/freeze/thaw cycles we’d been through, it was still sturdy and showed no signs of wear. I didn’t end up covering it with a tarp (so much for good intentions…) but it seemed to be holding up fine.

    • I think the biggest issue will be the soil in the trug freezing. If it freezes solid, nothing will grow. I was able to extend the growing season in Connecticut into December by using a cold frame over the top. Piling straw bales around the bottom of the trug might help. But in the depth of a Maine winter (especially one like this last one!), I don’t think anything would survive in the trug – unless it was indoors or in a warmer area like a shed or garage (although light could be a problem there).

      Anyone have any other ideas or input?

      • Martin Galvin (Dublin south Ireland)

        Years ago I purchased a heating cable. It was intended to heat up a small cold frame in winter, I might look again to re purchase another one. As my trug is located close to my concrete shed,which has electric power, I might try putting the low voltage heating cable justbeneath the soil in the trug during Winter. We will see what happens.

  2. Steve

    I’m bitterly disappointed in my Vegtrug. Everything I plant in it turns yellow and dies. I was better off planting in the earth. The tomato leaves are dying, the nasturtiums got some nasty caterpillar, the basil sprang up and quickly died. Maybe they sent 15 bags of topsoil infused with cow urine. Now I have to consult with an expert.

    • Hi Steve, I’m wondering if the problem was the planting mix you used? I haven’t heard any problems with the VegTrug specifically that would cause the sorts of things you’re seeing. In fact, I’m not sure how a planter could cause caterpillars and dead plants…

  3. Phyllis

    I live in Alabama and I’m having trouble with my vegetables in my VegTrug.The first year the tomatoes got dry rot, and my cucumbers didn’t get to cucumber size, they were 2 inches in size and turned yellow and moldy looking. My radishes along the edge didn’t do anything, just stayed a root. That was all in 2014. Now in 2015 I had one tomato plant, bush green beans, spinach, radishes, and this is what happened. Had plenty of green tomatoes on the tomato plant but I only got two red tomatoes.The radishes stayed as a root, the bush green beans got a white spotty color to the leaves and bugs ate the leaves. The green beans were approx two inches long, and the spinach never developed, looked like grass. I had planting soil with Miracle Grow and some Chicken manure, in the soil my neighbor gave me so I mixed it with the soil I had last year, since it looked like some of the soil had gone down some. After planting we had several severe Thunderstorms with torrential rain. After a while I watered when I felt the soil dry. Later towards the end of the season I had to bring in the green tomatoes and let them ripen in a brown paper sack in a dark place. I had two other tomato plants, one cherry that did great! The big boy was the same a the one in the VegTrug, the tomatoes were green. ( the two tomato plants I had in separate round planters). I don’t know why I would have trouble two years in a row. When I planted in the ground my garden was Wonderful, but since I landscaped my back yard I only have the VegTrug for vegetables. Does anyone have ANY suggestions what might be wrong? Why am I having trouble? I purchased the VegTrug off line in Canada. My brother told me about the VegTrug, and I loved it so much I bought the medium one. The only help or suggestion I got from Lee Valley, where I purchase it was the soil could have been contaminated. Lee Valley Co, told me to take out all the soil and wash the liner with vinegar and water, then put in Organic soil only. I will try this for next Spring 2016 and hope it works. I cannot figure out what’s wrong. And I do have a green thumb!

    • Hi Phyllis, it does sound like it’s a soil issue. Don’t use anything except planting mix (definitely no garden soil!) with well-seasoned compost. Chicken manure can be a little “hot” unless it’s well-rotted – that alone could kill your plants or make them do poorly. Don’t overdo it on the compost either. Follow Lee Valley’s suggestion to remove all the soil and wash the liner. And if you can, install drip irrigation in the VegTrug (you can get a kit from Lee Valley – it just hooks up to the water spigot). One of the issues people can have with the VegTrug (and with any elevated planter) is that it dried out more quickly that garden beds. In this case, you’ll notice that the top and edges dry out more quickly. Inconsistent moisture levels can also result in the problems you’re describing. Finally, make sure the planter is in full sun, with maybe afternoon shade, and water early in the morning (and again in the afternoon if necessary during the hottest part of the summer). Hope this helps! Let me know how things go next year. – Monica

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