Bucket Gardening – Low Maintenance Gardening for Small Spaces
Bucket gardening is a great alternative to garden pots and traditional garden beds that allow you to have a productive vegetable garden without a lot of outdoor garden space. Bucket gardening is great for people who are renters, those with small patios, and even those who live in urban areas without a lot of outdoor spaces.
I grew up visiting my grandparents every summer and they had the most wonderful vegetable garden. It was a lot of work to maintain but it was amazing the yummy food that came out of that garden. Container gardens are becoming more and more popular as people desire to grow their own food but lack the space or time for the traditional garden. Container gardens are also great for those with physical limitations as the containers can be raised, eliminating the need to bend over to tend to the garden space. Gardening in buckets makes container gardening even more straightforward.
What is Bucket Gardening?
Bucket gardening is literally exactly as it sounds. It’s growing plants in 5 gallon buckets. 5 gallon buckets are great growing vessels because they have enough depth and width to grow just about anything. You could do fruits and veggies or even a small cut garden in 5 gallon buckets. Bucket gardening is also ideal because of how inexpensive it is. Gardening containers can be really costly. You can grab 5 gallon buckets for just a few bucks at most places.
What Can You Grow in Buckets?
As I mentioned, you can grow just about anything in 5 gallon bucket planters. They are ideal for growing plants like vegetables, herbs, annuals, and perennials because the buckets provide enough potting soil for roots to thrive without taking up a lot of space in the yard or patio.
What are the perks of bucket gardening?
Bucket gardening is really versatile. You can grow anything in the buckets. You can plant one vegetable per bucket so you don’t have to keep track of which rows are which veggies. You can also plant a cut garden in the buckets with annuals and perennial plants. You can also plant an entire herb garden in one bucket and have a variety of herbs available at your fingertips.
Bucket garden takes up remarkably less space than conventional gardening. When we first started container gardening, we planted veggies in five buckets on our patio. That summer we got so many tomatoes! The buckets take up as much or as little space as you want or have available.
As a military family, I really appreciate bucket gardening for its ability to be transportable. You don’t have to get rid of your whole garden if you move. You can bring the buckets with you. Obviously, if you are moving overseas or across the country, this may not be as viable but moving across town? You can totally take your plants with you. Additionally, being able to move your plants out of the sun if you have a patio that gets harsh afternoon sun can completely save your garden.
Bucket gardening is really inexpensive. Different from most container gardens that require you to build or buy a garden bed, you can purchase 5 gallon buckets for just a few dollars each, some soil, and seeds, and be ready to garden.
Easy to Care For
Bucket gardening is great because the circumference of the plant space is small enough that it’s really easy to keep the weeds out. You also keep your plants separate so you can tend to the needs of each plant.
How to Create a Bucket Garden
Creating a bucket garden is really simple. Decide on the plants you’d like to grow in your container garden and buy enough 5-gallon buckets to house those plants. A good rule of thumb is one plant per bucket. If you are doing a cut garden you could add two species of flowers into one bucket. Otherwise, one plant per bucket is great.
Once you have the number of buckets you need you can start preparing them for planting. To prepare your buckets, drill several holes at the bottom of the bucket to serve as drainage holes and remove excess water. The next step is to layer the bottom of the bucket with gravel to assist with drainage. Then you’ll fill the remaining area of the bucket with potting soil. You’ll want to leave about 4 inches from the top free. The amount of soil you will need for a 5 gallon bucket garden can vary as some plants need hard compact soil and some plants require soil that is airy and not compact. On average though 5 gallon buckets will need about 2 and a half cubic feet of soil.
Once you’ve added the soil you are ready to plant your seeds or seedlings according to the directions. I would also recommend adding peat moss and compost to the top of the soil to give your plants the nutrients they need to start growing.
If 5 gallon orange buckets aren’t your thing – you can pick up 5 gallon buckets in an array of colors. Additionally, you can build planter boxes or stand to put the buckets in that hide the sides of the buckets. I also have created burlap sacks to put around the buckets to dress them up a bit. 5 gallon bucket planter stands are also commercially available to big box home improvement stores.
Plants That Are Good for Bucket Gardening
There really aren’t many plants that aren’t great for bucket gardening. We always buy our seeds from Burpee. They have a great variety. Some of our favorite plants for container gardening are:
Peppers (all kinds)
Herbs (all kinds)
Flowers like zinnias and daises
This is by no means an exhaustive list but it gives you a good starting point. Bucket gardening, like all gardening – does require a bit of trial and error but once you get the hang of it and your plants start producing it is the most rewarding thing to have bucket planters.
That’s an introduction to bucket gardening. Bucket gardening is a great way to get your feet wet in gardening and enjoy the occasional harvest without the commitment of a conventional garden. Bucket gardening is great for small space dwellers as well as those with limited access to outdoor space. We love that we can take our bucket garden with us when we move (we’ve driven across the country twice with our bucket garden in tow). Lastly, bucket planters are budget-friendly and fun! If you attempt a bucket garden be sure to comment below and let us know what you’re growing!
Yes, this definitely gets me in the mood for gardening! I probably have too much room in my flower beds, and I tend to get myself in over my head and then subsequently get burned out. Last year I didn’t do a thing! But this year, I find myself already thinking about the containers on my front porch and how I’ll be putting them together. Your post just cements it….I definitely will be doing SOMETHING this year. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Have a great day!
I too in the past have gotten way over my head and just quit ! I now live in a forest so it looks like this just might work for me. Thanks for the ideas !
These are all fantastic ideas. I can’t wait to get our garden going. Fresh grown vegetables are the BEST!!
Lovely collection of ideas, I like the wooden wine crates the best!
Your blog is adorable! I love your projects! You go girl! Thank you so much for inspiring me today! I am your newest fan!
Great ideas! I can’t wait to get planting!!!
I love the idea of using the old drawers! Super cute! I totally have a black thumb but my husband can get anything to grow.
I would stay away from using the galvinized watering troughs for vegetables due to the heavey zinc content in them, otherwise the trough thing is a good idea.
Theses are all great. We will probably be doing some container gardening here this year. I posted about our garden plans, too.
I am creating a container garden and using the 50 Qt plastic bins.. Only cost $3 at Walmart. If things go well, then I like the idea about repurposing the drawers.
I plan to use a plastic kid’s wading pool to grow my zucchini and peppers and herbs… the tomatoes go in big buckets, just like yours…
Question. SO can you not garden in the actual soil on a military base? I HAVW ALWAYS WONDERED. I MYSELF AM A NOVICE HOMESTEADER, LEARNING TO GROW MY OWN FOOD AND LIVE MORE INDEPENDENTLY. MY BOYFRIEND JUST JOINED THE AIR FORCE AND I HAD BEEN CURIOUS ABOUT WHAT THE RULES FOR A GARDEN WERE ON AN AIR FORCE BASE. IF WE EVER DID GET MARRIED, AND MOVED ON TO THE BASE, WOULD I BE ABLE TO PLANT A LARGE VEGETABLE GARDEN? OR IS THAT NOT A GOOD IDEA?
I apologize for the large capslock. I do not know why my computer reverted my answer to that.
Hey there! I’m a military wife also, and we are moving soon, probably to base housing. It’s great to know I can (attempt to anyway) grow my own veggies, even on the patio. This is a silly question, but I’m a newbie, ha ha: did you drill holes in your buckets for water drainage?
Hi there! We’d love to share your orange bucket image in an upcoming social media project for The Home Depot. If you grant us permission please email us at TeamSocial@homedepot.com. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!
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Living in military housing I’ve had places where I had the freedom to garden as I wished. Places that have restrictions on inground planting, container gardening always works. Keep it looking nice and trim and there shouldn’t be any problems. They usually get. Upset when it’s overgrown and unkept.
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do you need holes in the bottom for drainage?????????
Yep – drill a few holes for drainage 🙂
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Hey. I dig your Homer bucket garden. I have one myself. It’s 20 Homer buckets growing tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, and a Meyer’s lemon tree hydroponically. Those big orange buckets work great! 🙂
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Loving the blog! Great content. Just fyi orange contractor buckets are not food safe and should not be used for edible gardening, especially when in the sun, the toxins will leach faster. Lots of chain grocery stores with bakeries that sell that delicious but horrible fake buttercream may give you the used icing bucket if you ask nicely! Or places that sell bulk pickles, they also come in large buckets. You can also buy food safe buckets. But for gardening the cheapest containers are by far grow bags on Amazon. You just have to water more frequently, but honestly even buckets dry out pretty fast too.