‘Wattles’ – Thinking Outside the Box

acga_wattlesby Ron Limoges, ABG Board Member

“Wattles” were featured at the American Community Gardening Association’s display at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show held in San Mateo from March 19th through 23rd. Wattles are made with rice straw bound into a tube with twine. Most of us are familiar with these items (though we may not know they were called “wattles”) because they are used extensively to provide erosion control on construction sites, especially along new roadways, and are designed to keep sediments and debris from entering the drainage system.

Wattles can be purchased at most home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s) for about $1.25 per foot and usually come in 25 foot sections. By shaping the tube into an oval and filling with a mix of compost and soil, they provide an instant, and very cheap, eight-foot-long “raised” gardening plot. Wattles can also be stacked for a deeper garden bed. Their flexibility also allows them to be formed into spirals for a planting area with a different shape and more depth.

Wattles are a natural product and will last about three years before they decompose. You can place new wattles on top of the old ones as they compress, holding the stack together with stakes or rebar or you can break up the old ones and recycle them in your compost bin.