Container gardening is a popular way of growing vegetables without the fuss and muss of digging up the lawn or putting in raised beds. It is perfect for apartment balconies and small-space gardens. A row of five-gallon buckets can be run along the edge of a fence, leaving the lawn open for other activities. Whatever your reason, it’s entirely possible to grow a vegetable garden in five-gallon buckets.
Why 5-gallon Buckets?
While I am advocating 5-gallon buckets, if you need to use a more visually appealing container, make sure it holds the same amount of soil and has the same depth. The depth and volume of soil is important to root growth, which is essential to the health of the plant. Five-gallon buckets can be had for free or a small price from many establishments that receive bulk food supplies in them. Try bakeries and any food establishments that use large amounts of sauces or condiments. I get mine from a local sub shop that sells them for $3 apiece to support a local charity.
Growing in buckets also means less weeding, easier watering and less bending and stooping. They can be tucked here and there in the garden wherever there is space or sun.
Vegetables That Grow Well in Buckets
- Tomatoes – Plant one tomato plant per pot. Support them with wire cages or stakes. Determinate or bush types are best, because they don’t grow as tall, but indeterminate varieties produce longer.
- Beans – Direct sow the seeds 2-to-3 inches apart. I usually limit it to no more than 5 plants per pot. Pole beans are more productive than bush beans. The two most productive and easiest to grow varieties are ‘Blue Lake Pole’ and ‘Kentucky Wonder.’
- Eggplants – In my experience, one plant per pot is best, although some sites allow two. Eggplants grow very large, so one plant has just enough root space. Heirloom varieties like ‘Black Beauty’ do well, but you may want to try some of the miniature or long, slim Asian types.
- Cucumbers – One plant per pot is recommended, but I usually plant a hill of five seeds and pluck out all but the healthiest two seedlings, since cucumbers don’t have extensive root systems. I use a circle of cow fencing to trellis them, but a tall tomato trellis will do if you secure it properly so it doesn’t fall over.
- Squash – Only use one plant per pot. I like the heirloom vining summer yellow crookneck and straightneck squash, so I trellis these. Compact varieties of zucchini and scalloped squash do well in five-gallon pots. I’ve never grown winter squash in buckets.
Almost any vegetables you can grow in the ground can grow in a 5-gallon bucket. I like to line up five pots and build a large trellis behind spanning all five for beans and cucumbers, which worked well. I found corn alone wasn’t worth the effort, but plan to try corn and squash in a bucket and see what happens. Tell us what your experience has been with growing vegetables in buckets.