Bucket Garden

pharmachadMay 13, 2014

Posted a few weeks back. I want to show an updated
pic of my bucket garden. Growing like weeds!

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Pic from last post a few weeks ago.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 11:43PM
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Great setup and impressive plants. I notice you have wide planter saucers. Where did you buy or find them?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 8:26AM
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mzstitch(Zone 7b South Carolina)

This is absolutely fantastic! I fell upon this post just by the recent post box on the right hand side of the rose forum I read diaily. I don't usually come to this forum, but so glad I saw your post! About 8 years ago I moved to S.C. from N.H. I always had a garden up north, but here we have heavy red clay and our back yard is sloped so due to the work it would take I haven't planted vegetables in years. Now you have me tempted to do this! Could you please give me details of what you have done, so I can follow your guidelines? Are these container just Lowes or Home Depot pails that you maybe have drilled holes in? What did you use for soil? Any advice you give is much appreciated. --Marcia

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 8:37AM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

That does look great. I'd be curious about some details as well, like soil mix and drip timing.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 11:10AM
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klo1(z7 OK)

Have to follow everyone else is saying, we need details please! It all looks lovely and must be productive as well!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 3:15PM
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Thanks for the positive feedback. The plant saucers
under my buckets are what we call down here in
Louisiana crawfish platters. I bought them from Sams Club
for about $1.50 a piece. I originally started using them last
year in the hot spring and summer. They hold about 1/2 gallon of water. Without these platters, I would
come home and my plants would be all wilted even
after watering the previous day. Once I put these platters
under my plants they did a lot better! Last year was a learning
year for bucket gardening. I quickly learned that soil mix
is very important and made a lot of errors along the way.
The most important thing I can tell you is never
put soil from your ground at the bottom of your
bucket to cut cost on potting soil. The results will
be terrible and all your hard work will go down the drain.
I also learned that you need to find a source to
make bulk potting soil mixes. If you buy bagged potting soil
mixes you will spend a fortune! I found a place
On the Mississippi River here that had most of
the bulk products I needed to create my own mixes. Some plant nurseries will also have bulk potting mixes- check around until you find it.
I also invested in a cement mixer to do all of my
I am still experimenting with my mixes, but these
are the two I am using now that are seen in the picture.
First mix:
5 gal pine fines
5 qt peat moss
5 qt sand ( concrete sand)
10 qt river sand(Mississippi River)
5 qt rabbit manure
1 cup cottonseed meal
1 scoop osmocote
Top dress with pine fines to prevent weed growth

Second mix:
5 gal river sand
10 qt pine fines
5 qt peat moss
5 qt sand
1/4 cup cottonseed meal
1 tsp osmocote.
Top dressed with pine fines.
I would make about 2 buckets per batch of the above
mixes. I ran an irrigation line this year. I am currently
watering every other day. The water lines water the top
of the buckets. I leave the drip irrigation on until
all of the platters are full. Also about once a week
I use Miracle-gro about1/3 dilution to the bottom
platters. About 1 month after I planted I also added another tablespoonful
Of osmocote to each bucket.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 9:25PM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

There are a lot of ways to skin a catfish :-), and it looks like you have a good one.

Truth be told I sometimes use a little soil in a large container mix (not as a layer though), and I prefer to run my drip three times a day for just ten minutes (no tray).

I would not say that's better, just my way to skin the cat.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 10:04PM
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Also forgot. Most of the buckets are food grade
buckets from Lowes. They are cheap and last
a long time. I drill four 1/4 inch holes at the very bottom of the bucket to allow for capillary action from the platter. So far, I have picked tomatoes, cucumbers,
Zucchini, bell peppers, banana peppers. Tomatoes, watermelon,
cantaloupe,and cucumbers are growing extremely
fast as you can tell by the vines in the pic. The trellises around
the buckets are just concrete wire- strong and cheap.
Thanks for all the comments and suggestions as
this is still work in progress. I fell like I have come a long
way from last year and learned a lot along the way.
Some of my mix ideas have come from this forum, so
I thank everyone for their input from past posts.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 10:32PM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

The pans are a must for the containers, especially in the hot weather. Granted - mine aren't as aesthetically pleasing as yours, but they do the trick. I purchased them at the dollar store. They're about 4in tall, and are a lifesaver if you're going to be away from the plants for a couple days!

...the bottom of the pic shows them, the top are just some 3gal buckets I picked up to house a few plants - for which I ran out of 5gal containers.

(They're meant to be oil drip pans)


    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 12:11AM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

...and I might add, congrats on the grow! The setup and growth is looking great!


    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 12:14AM
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PharmaChad and jutsFL, thanks for sharing the platters and drip pans information. They make great planter saucers, which I agree are indispensable for container gardening. And good prices too.

The drip system looks simple and effective. I wonder if PharmaChad has a home business going there. There are too much vegetable for one family.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 4:00PM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

I hate to mention this, because "indispensable" seems a strong claim.

But for what it's worth, it was 102F here yesterday, and using a timer to water frequently but not much, seems to work without the pans.

I have this concern that I'd like to be flushing at least a little salts every day, and my soil/schedule allows that.

Perhaps that is just a concern of a west coast, hard water, gardener.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 9:16PM
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I come from a family of 7. Let's just say they eat well! I also bring
some to work- so it goes fast. I also make salsa out of my tomatoes
and freeze them. I probably made over 100 bell
peppers last year and froze some and used them all
year long to cook with. After all it is 1 component of
of the cooking trinity.
John I don't think any of my plants are suffering
from salt retention. I would worry more about
root rot if I watered 3 times a day.
I would also be curious as to what dollar
store the oil pan platters came from and how
much they cost?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 10:23PM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

On the root rot, what I'm thinking is that my PWT is low and stable (tested with dip-stick), and so the roots won't go there, if they don't want to.

I have to admit I'm more confident of this in my 10 gallon pots than I am in my 3.5s. We'll see.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 10:58PM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

Johns... I agree with the drip claims, if I had one set in place there would be no need for the pans. But without the setup, I need a way to ensure that moisture can be drawn in when I'm not around. Luckily (or unluckily) enough, central FL rains keep quite the check on any salt build-up. I only put the pans down when I cannot tend to the pots, and in which case they are a lifesaver. The FL sun, in combination with large peppers, drys out a 5gal bucket in an afternoon!

And Pharma, I picked them up at Dollar Tree... For, well, a dollar. I've got 16 total (of the pans) - 14 plants in 5gal buckets, and 2 in the 3gal buckets shown above. (It is rather hit or miss though as to which dollar stores carry specific items)


    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 1:45AM
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Johns, suffice it to say that to an experimental home gardener in North Carolina like me who is trying to conserve water without a drip system and who uses little chemical fertilizer, planter saucers are indispensable. Gardening is fun for me, still I try to do as little repetitive work like watering as possible.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 9:52AM
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Could you share a pic of your container garden ?
I'd be interested to see how your platters
fit your buckets. John maybe you could share
your non-platter containers too?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 11:04PM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

No problem Pharma...

Here's the ole pepper field this morning:

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:43AM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

And here's how the drip pans fit... I like them because they are deep. I don't use them often, but really come in handy when I'm not going to be around for a couple days. Once the plants get to this size they need water nearly every other day in the FL sun/heat.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:46AM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

Should mention too that I have ~13 1/4in holes drilled into each bucket... 8 on bottom, and 5 around the side (about 1 1/2 in up from the bottom).


    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:50AM
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Wow, very nice! Do you pickle some of
those peppers?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:53AM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

Not yet Pharma,
This is the first year I decided to have a larger grow. It's always been just a couple plants in the past. That being said, much pickling/dehydrating/hot sauces are on the board for this one. From the amount of pods being set thus far, I'm going to have much to freeze as well for sauces down the line.

...from the looks of it, you've been at this 5gal gardening for some time! Quite the setup you've got for everything.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 9:43AM
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This is just my second year that I go large scale.
3 years ago I had 4 buckets of bell peppers and
4 buckets of blueberries. Now I have about 30
buckets of veggies and 170 containers of blueberries
all at different stages in different size containers.
My wife thought is was crazy until she started eating
my blueberries this spring!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 5:53PM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

Just a note ... if you do have a drip timer system, the Mississippi State University has some very specific instructions for greenhouse tomato production: Except in small hobby greenhouses, irrigation should be controlled automatically, with the use of time clocks or electronic controllers. The volume of water will vary depending on the season and the size of plants. New transplants need only about 2 ounces (50 ml) per plant per day. At maturity on sunny days, however, plants may need up to 3 quarts (2.7 liters or 2,700 ml) of water per plant per day. Generally, 2 quarts per plant per day are adequate for fully grown or almost fully grown plants. Monitor plants closely, especially for the first couple of weeks following transplanting, so that the volume of water can be increased as needed. Water should be delivered to each plant. This is usually done with âÂÂspaghetti tubingâ and emitters that carry water from main lines to the base of each plant.

Each watering should include fertilizer (see section on Fertility); therefore, the process is more appropriately referred to as âÂÂfertigation.â Most growers use from 6 to 12 waterings per day once plants are established. In a medium that drains extremely well, such as rice hulls, 12 or more waterings per day may be needed to keep plants from drying out between waterings. In pine bark, 6 to 12 waterings per day are usually adequate. The important point is that plants should receive enough water so they do not wilt. A wilting plant is not growing. If the permanent wilting point is reached because of a prolonged period without water, the growing point may be killed. To be certain that plants receive enough water, allow enough so some drainage from the bags (10-20 percent) is apparent after each watering.
Be aware that a prolonged cloudy period followed by bright sun may cause severe wilting. Be ready to increase the amount of water in this situation.

I think I'm going to increase my frequency, while shooting for something like 3 quarts (to 4 on hot days) per day.

Update: this also might be a reason why commercial growers use such smaller containers than home gardeners, who use flood irrigation. When you can do "6 to 12 waterings per day" you can use smaller grow bags.

Here is a link that might be useful: handbook (PDF)

This post was edited by johns.coastal.patio on Sun, May 18, 14 at 10:47

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 10:20AM
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How about substituting coir for some or all of the sphagnum moss? It's more environmentally friendly.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 6:21PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

This is a great thread.
I am for using smaller pots. I have never grown anything seriously in pots until this year. But I have come to understanding (based on the testimonials and pictures of actual gardeners here) that 5 gallon is big enough and ECONOMICAL way to grow tomatoes an large peppers in them , I am doing a lot of my peppers in 2 to 3 gallon pots. The major challenge for the containers on small side is frequent watering, especially in dry and hot climates. Otherwise for an annual with 5 months pot life soil volume and root bounding is not that important as long as you give the plant the nutrients it needs. SEEING THREAD LIKE THIS STRENGTHEN MY CONVICTION. I hear a lot of talks but I like to see the results. You know, I have lived in MO, for a while: The "Show Me !" state.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 1:24AM
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Pharmachad - I'd be interested to hear how you are doing watermelon in buckets. Just letting it spread on the ground? For your zuchinni, are you picking the fruits when small? I'd think large fruits hanging from the top of a 5 gallon bucket would be tough on the plant.

JutsFL - In your pic with the Dollar Tree pans, you appear to have some wicking material. Since you mentioned you don't always use the pans, can you elaborate on whether this is correct? I'd be interested in how you set up your wick as I assume it would need to be done at planting time.

I'm going to be planting several 5 gallon pails over the next couple of days.


This post was edited by brian6464 on Tue, May 20, 14 at 14:37

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 1:16PM
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"How about substituting coir for some or all of the sphagnum moss? It's more environmentally friendly."
I cannot find coir in my area and would cost a fortune to
ship to me. If you want to write an article on using it go ahead and try to convince me,
but don't comment on my article when I went
through all my time and effort to share what I do!
Some people just find negatives in everything.
Why don't you post some pictures of your coir garden?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 9:17PM
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