If you use buckets, you can easily move your plants inside during a frost, heavy rain or wind storm. The buckets will also make it easier to bring out your plants into the sunshine during spring.
Use a food-grade bucket because using old buckets that may have been used to store toxic substances can cause chemicals to leech into the plastic.
Look for food-grade buckets at local restaurants that may give away buckets that once stored food items. Alternatively, you can purchase new food-grade buckets online or from big box stores.
Aside from buckets, you will also need other gardening staples, such as:
Once you get your food-grade buckets, prepare them for planting. Drill or punch a few holes in the bottom of the bucket. One hole about every three inches should do it.
Leave about two inches of loose gravel in the bottom of the bucket for better drainage. Then fill the buckets with a high-quality potting soil mix that includes peat moss and compost. Leave enough room for the plants themselves.
Plant either seeds or starter plants in five-gallon buckets. Water your crops well and check for the soil’s moisture level for further watering. Container plants usually need daily watering during summer because they can dry out rapidly. (Related: Home gardening tips: 8 Small space gardening options that won’t break the bank.)
Here are 17 of the best vegetables to grow in five-gallon buckets:
Both pole beans and bush beans will grow well in buckets.
Beetroots adapt well to buckets. Sow some seeds every couple of weeks from spring through early July for a continuous harvest.
Standard carrots need a deeper container other than a bucket, but some short varieties will thrive in containers. Sow seeds at least two to three inches apart and keep the bucket in a sunny location.
Chili plants thrive in warm and sunny areas, but they can adapt to a bucket kept in a sheltered spot that receives direct sunlight. Keep buckets indoors if there is any chance of frost.
Bush-type cucumbers can be grown in five-gallon buckets full of a light, rich blend of compost, peat moss, or coconut coir and perlite. Water well.
Add a trellis or a tomato cage to help the cucumber plant grow up, not out. Water cucumbers thoroughly.
Green onions, also called spring onions or salad onions, don't need deep soil, making them perfect for bucket gardening. Sow onions half an inch deep into a bucket every few weeks from early spring through fall if you want a season-long supply.
Keep green onions watered in hot, dry weather.
Kitchen herbs like mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme will thrive in a five-gallon bucket. You can let one plant spread and grow in one bucket.
Keep basil and coriander on your kitchen windowsill.
Most types of lettuce will grow very well in a five-gallon bucket. Plant as many as four heads per bucket.
Melons need space to grow so it's best to plant only one melon plant per five-gallon bucket. Select dwarf bush varieties that will grow well in containers.
A single okra plant can grow well in a five-gallon bucket. Use well-drained soil and add holes in the buckets to make sure water is adequately draining as the plant grows.
Regular onions can be grown in buckets, but they need at least three inches of open soil around them to develop properly. Leave two to three onions per bucket.
Leave the bucket where it will receive plenty of light and fertilize regularly.
Sweet peppers like Bell-Boy, Gypsy and Sweet Chocolate and hot pepper varieties such as Cubanelle, Jalapeno and Red Cherry grow best in buckets. Grow one plant per bucket.
Potatoes can grow in buckets because they need depth, not space.
Plant at least 10 radish plants per five-gallon bucket. Sow the seeds about one inch deep and an inch apart. You can harvest the radishes after over a month. Re-sow for a continuous supply of radishes.
Sow Swiss chard seeds an inch deep and thin out the seedlings as needed. Harvest regularly and cut away the outer leaves first.
Cherry or bush tomatoes grow well in containers. Tomato plants require even watering.
Tomatoes are very susceptible to frost. Fertilize with high-potash fertilizer designed for tomatoes for better yield.
Support the plants with stakes or a cage as they grow. Water thoroughly but don't leave puddles because the tomatoes will crack and split.
Zucchini plants need space to grow so choose compact zucchini varieties such as Eight Ball, Geode, Jackpot hybrid, or Raven.
Use food-grade buckets to grow vegetables in your own garden even if you don't have a lot of space at home.