Farm Tub: Attractive, Self-Watering Container Systems

Interview with Bob and Susan Walsh, Owners


  Farm Tub
  4949 N. Broadway
  Boulder, Colo. 80304
  303.449.5633 |

How did Farm Tub get started?

Unlike most companies, ours was not an intentional business start up. Basically, we tried to develop something that would help us grow better vegetables in the sunroom of our home. That’s not a big space to work with, so we decided to use tubs, the galvanized kind that are sold at farm supply stores. Realizing that watering our plants was very time consuming, we looked for a better system and began experimenting with wicking beds.

This led us to create a design that featured a water reservoir whose volume could be easily adjusted, along with a wicking system that could be varied as needed for different water needs. But the real game changer for us was making the tubs attractive. We incorporate a variety of tub veneers that improve the aesthetics, making them suitable for many different applications, from home decks to large public spaces.

Farm Tub at mountain cabin
Farm Tub at mountain cabin

What are some of the best features?

First of all, we have great flexibility in the size and type of planters we use. We can go small with a 2-foot by 3-foot tub on up to an 8-foot by 3-foot tub, and the reservoir size can range from 30 to 90 gallons. We can custom fit our self-watering conversion kit to large planter sizes as well. They work especially well for water-loving plants, such as tomatoes and other night shade vegetables, and produce noticeably larger plants. Keeping the reservoirs full is simple and water frequency is only about 10 days up to two weeks, depending on the tub size. Finally, since no overhead water is applied, we don’t see soil compaction and we see a reduction in diseases that thrive in saturated or wet soils, or wet foliage. The soil surface stays dry.

What markets are you serving?

In the beginning our main customers were homeowners. As we started displaying the Farm Tub planters at various shows, we saw the need for adapting our products to Do-It-Yourself homeowners and landscapers. As a result, we developed conversion kits, which are also now quite popular. One of our highest growth areas is the municipal market where Farm Tubs really help by saving on labor costs and producing more consistent performance. For example, we provided Farm Tubs in Winter Park, and they only needed to water them about four times for the whole summer.

Landscape architects are providing another opportunity for us by helping them use our system for custom planters. We’ve even seen designs that put rollers on our tubs so they can be easily moved around for screening purposes and other aesthetic applications.

Farm Tub system
Farm Tub system retrofit in municipal planters

What industry trends are you seeing?

People are increasingly concerned about where their food comes from, and local sources seem to be preferred. Farm Tub allows the homeowner to grow their own food with less work and effort. First-time gardeners like our products, too, because it helps them avoid some of the problems that beginners often struggle with.

People are downsizing their homes and living spaces, so our product allows them to grow quality food and flowers in a small space. Therapy gardens are on the rise and the Farm Tub concept is a perfect fit, because it’s almost like a raised bed, putting the plants at a comfortable height and providing easy access for people in wheelchairs.

Farm Tub planters at school
Farm Tub planters at school

What motivated you to join CNGA?

We were looking for networking opportunities for Farm Tub, and ways to support local organizations that encourage gardening in Colorado. CNGA seemed like a perfect way to reach a new audience for our planters and self-watering conversion kits, while meeting fun, like-minded people.