Bucket Gardening 101: How to Grow Food in a Bucket-Little Sprouts (2024)

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A great way to get started with gardening is to try bucket gardening. There is no weeding and it’s a small space to keep up with while you’re learning how to grow things yourself. Gardening at home is super important, but it doesn’t have to be big or complicated. Bucket gardening can produce a substantial amount of food.

Bucket gardening can be a year-round project. We planted radishes and lettuce in early spring. We got a harvest of radishes and several harvests of lettuce (lettuce can be cut and will continue to grow back). Then we put in a tomato plant and some green bean seeds and got some summer harvests. Next, we again planted fall crops and harvested in early winter.

(check out my favorite seed brand here)

We had a ton of fun trying bucket gardening and recording what happened so we could show other people how much you can really do in a small space in the garden. There is no maintenance to a bucket and no weeding (which I LOVE). I hope you will give it a try whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a newbie. You might fall in love with container gardening too!

You can also grow strawberries in a bucket.

Here’s a link to a great vegetable garden planner you can print right out and use at home! So cute!

Growing tomatoes in buckets

Tomatoes grow great in buckets as long as you choose one that is large enough. You could grow a smaller tomato variety in a one-gallon bucket, but for most tomatoes, a 5-gallon bucket is perfect. You can grow them in bigger buckets as well.

Bucket garden

I love a 5-gallon bucket for a garden. You can grow quite a bit of food in a bucket. It’s fun to see how much you can grow. This past summer, we grew 5 pounds of tomatoes, about a pound of lettuce, half a pound of radishes and a pound of green beans in one bucket. It was a fun experiment, but we have loved bucket gardening for years.

You can use any kind of bucket for growing. You can even get free plastic buckets at bakeries that have to throw tons of them away throughout the year. Stop by your grocer’s bakery and ask if they would save you some. I liked this metal bucket because it was super cute, but use whatever you can get. I think half whiskey barrels are adorable too.

Once you have your container, the first step is DRAINAGE! You need your bucket to drain so your roots don’t get drowned. We just turn ours over and grab a drill. We use at least a quarter-inch bit and drill a bunch of holes in the bottom. I think 8-10 at minimum.

5-gallon planter

Next, you need planting medium. I would suggest potting soil rather than garden soil for this because a garden in a bucket needs lots of nutrients and needs to hold moisture so it doesn’t dry out too fast. Potting soil is formulated for just that purpose. The kind of potting soil we bought for this bucket gardening project wasn’t the best. Next time, I’ll add compost to the medium to improve growth.

Fill your bucket garden with your soil or planting medium all the way to the top and a little heaping over. It will settle pretty quickly so don’t be afraid to really fill it up. Add some water so the soil starts out moist. Bucket gardening is simple, but keeping it watered is the most important part. Once the soil is damp, it’s ready to plant. You can use seedlings or start seeds directly in the soil.

Container gardening in a bucket

Plant seeds according to package instructions and seedlings up to the same soil level they were in their original pots. (Except for tomatoes, you can plant them a little deeper) Water them well once planted to make sure you removed any air pockets around them.

When the seedlings are all sprouted, cut all but the strongest ones off at the ground with scissors so the best ones will have room to grow.

Once your seedlings are about 5 inches tall or so, you can mulch the top of the soil to keep in additional moisture. The bucket will need to be watered once a week until it gets very hot and then watered more than once a week as it dries out.

For more on how to grow tomatoes in a bucket, check this out.

Growing food in a 5-gallon planter is simple if you keep it watered well enough AND remember that since you’re watering more often, you’ll have to add nutrients more often. This means using some type of fertilizer. We like to use diluted fish emulsion about once a week in the heat of the summer. Every other week is fine in spring and fall when it’s not so hot!

Check out these ideas on how to start a survival garden too.

For more details on what to plant when, check out this month by month garden planning guide.

Bucket Gardening 101: How to Grow Food in a Bucket-Little Sprouts (2024)


Bucket Gardening 101: How to Grow Food in a Bucket-Little Sprouts? ›

For 5 gallon bucket gardening, seek out smaller-saturated vegetable varieties. Growing tomatoes in buckets can be a great place to start—such as small patio tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. You can also grow a variety of herbs in a 5 gallon bucket, such as basil or dill.

What is the easiest vegetable to grow in a bucket? ›

For 5 gallon bucket gardening, seek out smaller-saturated vegetable varieties. Growing tomatoes in buckets can be a great place to start—such as small patio tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. You can also grow a variety of herbs in a 5 gallon bucket, such as basil or dill.

How many plants can you grow in a 5 gallon bucket? ›

Put One plant in a 5-gal. container & it's size will equal the size of it's root system. Put two in the same space & each plant will be stunted due to overcrowding or one may choke the others root system completely, leaving you with one stunted plant & one dead plant.

How do you prepare a 5 gallon bucket for planting? ›

Drill a large hole that will fit PVC piping in one bucket. The upper bucket will contain soil and plants. The lower bucket will contain water, the PVC end and a wicking item such as cloth. This will slowly deliver water up to the plant's roots.

Can I use Home Depot buckets to grow vegetables? ›

5-gallon Homer buckets can be used to grow some edibles like tomatoes and peppers. Fill with good quality organic potting mix. Be mindful of excessive heat and wind. Move plants around for the best location and stake, if needed.

How many cucumber plants per 5 gallon bucket? ›

Two or three plants will fit in a five-gallon bucket or grow one cucumber in a 10-inch-wide container. Mix soil with equal parts of compost, potting soil, perlite and peat moss. The compost or rotted manure will get plants off to a good start, or blend in granules of a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10.

What vegetables can you plant in 5 gallon buckets? ›

Five-Gallon Buckets
  • Tomatoes. Container: 1 plant per 5-gallon pot. ...
  • Beans, snap. Container: 5-gallon window box. ...
  • Broccoli. Container: 1 plant per 5 gallon pot, 3 plants per 15-gallon tub. ...
  • Carrots. Container: 5-gallon window box at least 12 inches deep. ...
  • Cucumbers. Container: 1 plant per 1-gallon pot. ...
  • Eggplant. ...
  • Lettuce. ...
  • Onions.
Nov 16, 2023

How many bags of potting soil do I need for a 5 gallon bucket? ›

1.6 Pots

Can you grow 2 tomato plants together in a 5 gallon bucket? ›

The standard size of these buckets allows for at least two tomato plants per bucket. This makes them an efficient use of space in small gardens or balcony spaces. Moreover, 5-gallon buckets are made from durable materials.

Can you grow cucumbers in a 5 gallon bucket? ›

Yes, works fine. Just drill holes in the bottom and side for drainage and throw a stake and a tomato cage in there so they can climb.

What vegetables grow well in buckets? ›

Peppers do well in containers and don't need as much water as other plants, such as tomatoes. The variety of colors, flavors, heat, and sizes is endless. Radishes are fun plants to grow with young children as they grow quickly, satisfying eager beginners.

What vegetables can I plant in buckets? ›

The Best Vegetables for Containers

Potatoes, chard, lettuce, cherry and bush tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, summer squash, Asian greens, pole beans. And don't forget herbs!

Can you grow a tomato plant in a 5 gallon bucket? ›

Tomatoes grow nicely in 5-gallon buckets (both Determinate and semi-Determinate tomato cultivars.) This way of growing tomatoes is ideal for DIY garden containers and small spaces. Fill your drilled bucket with potting soil, add your fertilizer, and plant the tomato half the height of their main stem.

Will tomatoes grow in a bucket? ›

I've successfully grown some determinates and container tomatoes in 5 gallon Home Depot buckets for several years. Tried some indeterminates and they produced as well, just don't expect huge plants and a spectacular harvest (but it will get you tomatoes if the bucket is your only option).

How do I know if my bucket is food grade? ›

Check out the bucket's universal recycling symbol; this relates to what type of plastic the bucket is made of. You should see the classic recycling symbol with a number inside of it. Generally, food grade plastics will be labeled with either 1, 2, 4, or 5.

Can you grow potatoes in 5 gallon buckets? ›

Your bucket doesn't have to be fancy by any means. The only requirement is that it is at least five gallons and that you're okay with putting holes in the bottom. I've used cat litter buckets and bird seed buckets to grow my potatoes in!

What vegetables do good in buckets? ›

Vegetables which are ideally suited for growing in containers include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green onions, beans, lettuce, squash, radishes and parsley.

What vegetables are easiest to grow for beginners? ›

Leaf lettuces and salad greens such as kale, chard, mustard, arugula, collards, and watercress are among the easiest of edibles – mainly because they start readily from seeds planted directly in the garden and are quick to mature (meaning less time for anything to go wrong.) Most greens are “cut-and-come-again,” too.

What vegetables should I grow as a beginner? ›

Easy Vegetables To Grow
  • Cool-season types—asparagus, carrots, lettuce, garlic, onions, and radishes—can tolerate a bit of frost, so you can plant them earlier in the season and perhaps plant a second crop to harvest in the fall.
  • Warm-season types cannot tolerate frost at all.
Mar 19, 2024

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