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What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

Posted by missemerald 7 (Virginia) (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 19, 13 at 17:43

Looking for some advice here-- every year, we have a vegetable garden in the backyard and grow lots of things successfully. My daughters (12 and 5) wanted to try something new last year, and in addition to the regular garden, we collected about 10 5-gallon pickle buckets from local restaurants. We were going to grow cukes in them to then can our own pickles (my daughters LOVE dill pickles). Anyway, all the cukes in the regular garden did quite well and produced enough for several cannings. However, the bush cucumber plants in the buckets did not do well at all. I can't recall what variety I planted but it was a bush variety, and according to the packet, well suited for container gardening. They weren't. So we thought we'd try to grow something else in the buckets this year. Looking for suggestions... yes, the dirt was fresh, the soil was amended, there was drainage in the buckets and holes in the bottom. What would be a good vegetable to grow in them this year that might actually produce something? Tomatoes? Peppers? Eggplant? Advice welcome!!!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

Most peppers grow well in 5-gallon pots. Some of the smaller Asian eggplants, like ichiban, could do well. Only the dwarf determinant tomatoes would be happy in such a small pot. As a novelty, you might try one sweet potato (very pretty) or one red potato. (Yield would be small.) Most herbs would work. In every case, I would grow only one per pot.


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

Here is the same question from a bit earlier this year. has some good info in it.

You also need to check in with the Container Gardening forum as this is a question often up for discussion over there.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

Like ohiofem said, peppers do well. But I bet regular(non-bush) cukes and other cucurbits(squashes, melons) would do well -- I hate bush cukes. You would have to set up a trellis of some type though. All kinds of shallow rooted veggies and herbs would work also - peas, green beans, lettuces. Even leeks, carrots, and garlic.

But with that small of a container, you probably want to go with a soilless soil. In other words, inorganic. No compost and only synthetic fertilizers. hop over to the hot pepper and/or container forum and ask about the 5-1-1 soil mix.

Kevin

This post was edited by woohooman on Sun, Jan 20, 13 at 12:05


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

I mainly use this for peppers, so I can take them inside when I need to.
And now I can't stop with that song again, it happens every time I see one of those Red Solo Cups.

Here is a link that might be useful: PLANT a Global Bucket


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

Yousaid the soil was amended what kind of mix did you use. Even I have 1500 square feet garden but last year I had the itch to grow cucumber in 10 gallons pots. My soil was a mix of vermiculite, perlite, sand. moss and humus. I had large vines hanging on trels and the cucumber fruit hanging from the vine was a pleasure to see. I did to brag to my family and friends. I plant cucumber in holes beside a chain link fence and the plants climb on the fence. I tried that for cantaloup but it did not work. The cantaloup is heavy and need support too much work.


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

Almost anything! Think of it's space as one square foot and go from there. One tomato or pepper plant, lots of carrots, peas, Kale, chard, go for it!


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

After using 5 gal buckets for many years I graduated to 8-10 gal decorative flower pots, not for their good looks, just for more soil.
I've grown anything I wanted in them, tomatoes, zucchini,peppers, etc etc.
Last year I used 4 pepper plants in one pot, and they grew so nicely I'm going to do it again, however the deer got to them and chewed up most of the plants.
Even at that I had some nice red bell peppers.
Cucumbers came out good, even tho I have a big cuc beetle problem here.
A plant in a garden needs attention
A plant in a bucket needs to be tended to twice a day (imo), watering needs to be watched in dry weather, covers are good for bad bugs, mulching helps considerably,
I love container and raised bed gardening, I suggest reading some great books on the subject.
Oh yes... a good bed of rocks, stones on the bottom of the pots are needed, not just holes for drainage.
Soil eventually finds it's way down there.
Good luck


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

a good bed of rocks, stones on the bottom of the pots are needed, not just holes for drainage.

This is a myth that will not die. When you put a potting mix with smaller particles on top of a drainage layer with larger particles, you actually decrease the amount of water that leaves the pot by as much as 30 percent. The smaller particles hold on to the water, creating a perched water table and decreasing the amount of healthy soil in the container. Anyone who is serious about growing in containers would do themselves a big favor by reading one of the most popular threads in the Container Growing forum, linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

The link below is to lots of 5 gallon bucket discussions from over on the Container gardening forum here in case you couldn't find them.

This is a myth that will not die. Agree. Just like the myth that you can grow anything you want to in a 5 gallon bucket will not die despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Dave


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

"Just like the myth that you can grow anything you want to in a 5 gallon bucket will not die despite all the evidence to the contrary. "

I wouldn't raise corn in them, but I've seen TWO indeterminate tomatoes giving great production in five gallon grow bags. There's a difference between what CAN be done and what the average person WILL do.


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

I agree digdirt. Some veggies are just not conducive and/or wise to grow in a bucket. For anybody that says they got "great" yields out of a bucket of tomatoes -- I want pics! Lettuces and the like -- plenty of depth, not much surface area though.

BUT, there are many veggies that can thrive and put out good yields in a bucket. I tend to opt for the larger containers though.

Me likes my oak barrels for veggies.

Here's MY list for a 5 gal bucket:

1 pepper plant
1 cucurbit(cuke, squash, melon)
6 snow peas and/or green beans
12 carrots
6-8 leeks or 20 scallions
4-6 garlic
MAYBE, 1 brassica(collards, kale, broccoli, etc.( I'll let you know in a month or so)

Everything else, I either don't grow or not enough depth and/or surface area to justify the hassle and/or low yield.

Just my opinion though... I'm not a professional. Just an "older" man who's been gardening for a few years but uses his brain and researches a tad...LOL

Trial and error has turned out to be the best education though.

Kevin

This post was edited by woohooman on Sun, Jan 20, 13 at 22:12


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

Jonfrum:

"but I've seen TWO indeterminate tomatoes giving great production in five gallon grow bags."

Like I said, PICS! I've seen "decent" GROWTH, how about yield?? Especially with indeterminates! I can guarantee an Early Girl wouldn't make it past August where I live. What do I do with the other 5 months of growing season??? Not only that, but I have a hard enough time staking, caging and trellising my indeterminates-- I hate to think how I would arrange something for a 5 gal bucket.

Any ideas or input would be helpful and appreciated.

Thanks

Kevin


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

I'm only expressing the methods I have used over the years, they worked and still work for me.
I never use potting soil, I use the same soil over and over, adding a percent of home made compost after heating last years soil in the sun to hopefully eliminate the pest's that may have remained.
I will however search the forum you suggest, sounds very interesting, I'll only add to my method of container gardening and will never change...to old for changes anyway, I'll probably never see changes that occur...LOL...
I had 2 images of peppers plants from last year, however when reducing pixels I went to small, messing up the pics. and never thought about saving to a new image.
I did have zucchini and cucumbers last year growing all over my deck,from 10 gallon decorative pots.
Almost lost relationship with wife after she saw them taking over her flower pots...
All from those pots with the mythical stones on bottom...


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

you can grow every thing in 5 gallons containers. Does this include Water mellons I doubt it. Last season one fruit of Sangeria Highbred reached 45 pounds how this could work in 5 gallons container even cantaloup is doubtful. Cucunber may be if you are an artest in building support. Also the soil has to be a mix of Perlite, Vermiculite, Moss and humus. Drainage and moisture retainage are the biggest problems in container use.
Abe


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

Here is a pic of the tomatoes I grew in 5 gallon buckets last year.

http://i1212.photobucket.com/albums/cc458/wertach2/100_1814.jpg

Here is a link that might be useful: Toms in buckets.


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

Fine looking plants - so far. But did they ever bloom and set fruit? Have any BER problems with them? Did they produce and if so how much? And what disease or pest problems did they have? I note the tomato leaf roll issue on at least one of them. And are those 5 gallon buckets built to be self-watering? They look like it. And how, what, and how often did you feed them? And how often did you have to water in your zone?

That's the problem with folks saying things like "sure, you can grow anything you want in a 5 gallon bucket". Those who make such claims never add all the info on the issues doing it creates for the grower. No one compares the production, flavor, amount of work involved, etc. to the same plant grown under normal conditions. Failure to do so misleads the inexperienced grower and sets them up for problems and disappointment.

Sure they learn and quickly move on to bigger containers and more success but why should they have to waste that time and effort?

As was said on another post recently. Forget 5 gallon buckets because you can grow anything you want in a 4" cube of rockfelt too. Hydroponics growers do it all the time.

But they also have to provide a continuous water-based, pH balanced, nutrient-rich growing solution in a heavily controlled environment to make it work and even then neither production nor flavor are comparable to natural growing conditions.

Make the 5 gallon bucket self-watering, rig up both a water and feeding system on an automatic timer drip irrigation system, monitor the soil pH and nutrient levels daily and adjust accordingly, and actively control the plant's environmental conditions and you have a good shot at success with many vegetables.

Don't do that and you'd do better stick with shallow rooted (Non-taproot) crops in small amounts which will still need a first-class soil-less medium, close daily monitoring for pest and disease problems because of the plant's stress, daily or 2x daily watering depending on weather, and at least weekly feedings since all the nutrients will leach out with all the waterings and you might get a fair amount of the produce.

If you are content with that, great. But it is a lot of work for minimal returns. Double the size of the container and have 1/2 the work for 3x the returns.

Dave


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

type in"bucket garden" on youtube. There's a guy on there that plants in 5 gallon buckets. He drills a large hole in the bottom and puts a net cup in the hole. He sets his buckets in old rain gutters. The soil in the net cup acts as a wick for the water. Basically like those earth pots. He posts follow ups. Pretty impressive in my view. Especially if your only option was to grow on a patio or driveway or something of that sort. I was sort of curious as to why people wouldn't leave the lid on and lay the bucket on it's side. Seems you'd have more root zone that way.


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

digdirt says:

No one compares the production, flavor, amount of work involved, etc. to the same plant grown under normal conditions.

...and sure, I see what you're saying, to an extent. For some people, however, (such as many people who live in the city), container gardening is the only option they have. I have a friend who gets great results in 5-gallon buckets, window boxes, and various other containers.

By "great" I don't mean that her plants are as big as mine in the ground, or that she gets as many fruits per plant as I do. It doesn't matter, though, because she's not comparing her garden to mine. For her, "in the ground" simply isn't an option, so it's not meaningful to compare her results to my more "normal" conditions.

My friend gets the variety she's looking for with the resources available to her. She's even done a little experimentation with crowding 2 peppers or tomatoes into a single bucket, and has discovered that while each plant doesn't get as big or produce as much as it would if it had the bucket to itself, she gets a higher yield over all.

Saying that container growing takes more effort might not be meaningful, either. For some (maybe even most) home gardeners, gardening is a hobby, and that fact that it offers a way to spend some time is part of the point.

At any rate, my point is that trying to compare container planting to in-the-ground planting is of limited usefulness, because many people who are gardening in containers don't have any other option. A lot of the time, "doing great" in a container has its own definition.


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

Very well said


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

At any rate, my point is that trying to compare container planting to in-the-ground planting is of limited usefulness, because many people who are gardening in containers don't have any other option. A lot of the time, "doing great" in a container has its own definition.

Sorry but apparently I didn't make my point above clearly.

I am not comparing container gardening to in-ground gardening. Don't think I even mentioned in-ground gardening. All my comments were about comparing 5 gallon buckets to properly sized containers.

Of course, many are restricted to container gardening but they are NOT restricted to 5 gallon buckets except by choice.

I do lots of container gardening myself. Nothing wrong with it at all. And great results are possible when one uses properly sized containers.

Thus my final comment: Double the size of the container and have 1/2 the work for 3x the returns.

Dave


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

What Dave said.

I wouldn't even attempt an indeterminate tomato in a 5-gal bucket. Also, I've grown peppers in buckets and grown them in oak barrels - 1 plant per bucket and 2 plants per barrel. The ones in buckets just didn't perform very well while the ones in barrels did almost as good as in-ground. Just MY opinion, I think peppers would do good with just a slightly larger container, maybe 10 gal.

Maybe I'll throw a mater in a barrel this year and see how that goes. I'll let you guys/girls know what happens if I do.

Kevin


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

Dave,I grew those to get extra early tomatoes. I would move them inside when the nights were below 50 degrees. Can't do that with big pots. I have a very sunny room that I put them in on cold days.

It wasn't for my main crop.I have a big garden and I don't plant in containers often.

Have any BER problems with them? Not even one tomato had BER.

Did they produce and if so how much? Yes, more than I could use fresh. I gave a lot away early in the season and canned some later.

And what disease or pest problems did they have? Not any.

And are those 5 gallon buckets built to be self-watering? Yes

And how, what, and how often did you feed them? I fed them about once a month with a weak solution of Miracle Grow.

And how often did you have to water in your zone? It varied from 2 to 6 days depending on heat.

Yes it was a little extra work, but well worth it for fresh home grown, tasty tomatoes a month and a half early!

Of course they didn't produce as much as my in ground tomatoes. And they seemed to die back early, due to neglect since I had more than I could use from my garden.

I cut them off even with the top of the container and put them next to my barn, a shady spot, to clean out later. Much to my surprise they sprouted again and grew like crazy.

I harvested tomatoes from them, a little smaller but tasty! Long after my in ground tomatoes had died out from heat and stress.

I plan to get some plants started in about two weeks so that I can have extra early tomatoes this year too.

This post was edited by wertach on Tue, Jan 22, 13 at 16:18


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

Two indeterminate tomatoes in 5 gallon grow bags - it can be done. Suckered to a single stem each, and pushed hard.

Here is a link that might be useful: What you can do with a 5 gallon container


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

I use 5 tucked tight to the south side of my house in early spring and sow leaf lettuce that is cut and come again. each bucket will provide enough to make a nice fresh salad for my family to enjoy with supper. as the heat increases i will move them to the east side and finally the north shadows of the house to extend the harvest as long as possible. I can get about 6 cuttings per bucket usually. water is the key as they dry out quickly.


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

I'm gonna try growing okra in buckets when the time comes.


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

I'm gonna try growing okra in buckets when the time comes.


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

I grew three emerald okra plants in a 20 gallon container that was 20 inches wide two years ago. They were crowded and grew 7-feet tall, requiring stakes. Last year I grew three cajun delight okra's in the same container. They only grew three feet tall, and the yield was only a little less than the emeralds. This year I think I will try growing four of the cajuns, but realize I might be pushing it. Based on this experience, I suggest you choose a smaller variety and only grow one in a 5-gallon pot.


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

I had success with growing Hayayuki rice in a bucket. I did have any drainage and filled the bucket with a blend of compost, loam, and perlite. In early May I planted three week old rice transplant seedlings and then submerged the base of the plants with 2 inches of water. As the water evaporated I added more. I harvest rice grains in August.


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

I had success with growing Hayayuki rice in a bucket. I did have any drainage and filled the bucket with a blend of compost, loam, and perlite. In early May I planted three week old rice transplant seedlings and then submerged the base of the plants with 2 inches of water. As the water evaporated I added more. I harvest rice grains in August.


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

I've also been a tomato-in-a-bucket grower. And no, it's not ideal. I can either grow sort-of-good tomatoes in the ground in one small area due to lack of sunlight or put tomatoes in buckets and move them around for max sun throughout the late spring/summer. I live on the north side of a wooded hill in New Hampshire so the growing season isn't all that long some years. If it gets to the 83+ degrees, I'll have to water more than once a day. Not great but that's the gardening hand I've got.

As for trelllising, I've repurposed some expandable panels from trade show displays that are used as supports. (They're the supports behind the fabric display units.)

As for other choices, I like to put in carrots, swiss chard and beets. It's not ideal but whatever likes to eat root crops in my yard can't get to these. And as a plus, I can move the containers to my deck to get them mostly away from the crunching-munching deer.

Here is a link that might be useful: display panel example


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

Absolutely anything you want! I do the majority of my tomatoes and eggplant in the 5-gallon paint buckets from Home Depot or Lowes, and they work like a charm. Just make sure there are about 12 - 15 drainage holes at the bottom


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

I do lots of experimenting with containers, a few years ago I graduated from 5 gal to 8-10 gal buckets.
Last season I had 4 pepper plants growing just great, even tho I had a wire around the pot, deer got at the stems and leaves. Had some nice peppers tho even at that.
Pictured here is some kohlrabi I tried last august, still looks good, in my cold frame now, maybe eating kohlrabi soon..
Anything you want to grow...go for it, lots of fun, interesting and educational...do check container gardening here, lots of good inputs there


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

Im doing some experimenting with 5 gallon buckets and thank everyone who posted here for their thoughts and input. As someone previously stated, this is a hobby for me, and its more about can I do it than having to succeed at it. I do have bigger containers (30 gallon totes) that should do real well so I am not worried if the 5 gallon buckets fail. To add to my little experiments, its all being done in a 8x10 evap cooled greenhouse in Phoenix.


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RE: What can I grow in 5 gallon buckets?

My kohlrabi in the bucket above didn't make it through the cold winter.
It was fun anyway
I have 4 raised beds going, however I'll still have a bunch of containers floating around.


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