Tuesday, January 7, 2020

5 Vegetables for 5 Gallon Bucket Container Gardens

Have you been looking to start a container garden, and have quite a bit of space to grow some vegetables? You may want to look into using 5 gallon buckets to grow some food. Being cheap and readily available, you can get your garden off the ground for next season with no trouble at all. Let's talk about setting up a 5 gallon container garden sand some crops to consider growing.

Let's start by setting up our bucket. First you need to source a 5 gallon container. It can be a new or used bucket, or similar sized container. If you are using a used bucket, be sure it didn't previously hold something toxic, like motor oil. An empty container of kitty litter is a perfect choice for a non-round container.

The container setup is identical to how I setup my buckets for my container vineyard, but we'll go over it here again. First we need drainage. If your container does not have drainage holes, drill some in the bottom of your container. I've included a diagram here of how I spaced the holes.
After removing any excess plastic around the holes, I filled the bottom of the bucket with some pea gravel. Pea gravel helps with drainage. I know some gardeners that mix in rock dust with their soil to provide minerals to their plants. I have a feeling that this layer of pea gravel has a similar effect.
To finish off the setup, fill the bucket with some potting soil. Mix in some organic fertilizer when filling up the container.

With our container setup, let's talk about planting something! Ideal plants for 5 gallon bucket gardening are those with large root systems that burrow deep. Most containers of this size are deeper than they are wide, so plants with shallow root systems that don't require as much spacing, such as lettuce or cilantro, aren't the ideal choice. You'll notice that most of the vegetables on this list are those that produce fruits.

Before I name the first vegetable, I put a link in the description below on more in depth information on some of these plants, along with where to purchase seeds. Ok, let's get into it:

1) Tomatoes
Tomato plants are the perfect vegetable to grow in a 5 gallon container. A bucket of this size is deep enough to allow the roots to grow deep and the right size to stick a tomato cage in. With plenty of space to grow a root system, you'll be sure to get big plants which produce tomatoes all season long! You can grow either cherry tomatoes for snacking on, plum tomatoes for making sauce, or full sized heirloom tomatoes for slicing.

Recommended Varieties: Any Cherry Tomato, like Red Cherry Large Fruited, Yellow Pear, Sweet 100 and Sun Gold or any Indeterminate Full Sized Tomato like San Marzano, Beefsteak, or other Heirloom Tomato.

2) Peppers
Peppers are an excellent choice to grow in a 5 gallon container. Like tomatoes, pepper plants should have no trouble establishing a large root system inside a 5 gallon bucket. With proper staking or pruning, you can get massive pepper plants producing all season long. If you do not have a way of staking your plants, I would recommend topping the plants when young to allow them to grow bushier. Although you can grow peppers in smaller sized containers, you won't have any variety restrictions when growing in 5 gallon buckets. So go crazy with some bell peppers!

Recommended Varieties: Any Spicy Pepper, like FresnoAnaheim, or Serrano and Sweet Peppers like Banana Peppers and Bell Peppers

3) Eggplant
The next plant on this list is also a cousin of peppers and tomatoes. Eggplants (or Aubergines) have different leaf style and tend to mature with purple and white flowers. If you like eggplant parmesan or fried eggplant, why not grow a plant this year? Eggplant comes in a lot more colors and shapes than you'd imagine, so have a look around a seed catalog before picking up some seeds.

Recommended Varieties:
Black Beauty, White Eggplant, Long Purple

4) Cucumber
The first plant here that isn't part of the tomato family, cucumbers can fit perfectly inside a 5 gallon bucket. You will need to provide some sort of trellis system for the vines to grow up, such as a tomato cage or other improvised structure. When the flowers start to bloom, you may need to hand pollinate the fruits, otherwise they may fail to develop. When picking a variety to grow, keep in mind some cucumbers are better for slicing, while others are better for pickling.

Recommended Varieties:
Spacemaster Cucumber, Lemon Cucumber, Straight Eight

5) Cabbage/Broccoli/Cauliflower
The last vegetable I'd like to mention are the larger members of the cabbage family. Although you can grow cabbages in containers with volumes as small as two gallons, more soil is better, and it will lead to a larger head. Aside from heading cabbages, you should also be able to grow broccoli and cauliflower in a 5 gallon container. Despite the difficulty in growing these, 5 gallons is more than enough volume to provide the soil depth to the root systems of these plants. Although it can be done, you would have to wait until the plants are finished growing in order to harvest to enjoy the plant.

Recommended Cabbage Varieties: Early Golden Acre, Red Acre, Copenhagen Market
Recommend Broccoli Varieties: Calabrese, Waltham 29, Romanesco
Recommend Cauliflower Varieties: Snowball Y, Romanesco (yeah it's both a cauliflower and a broccoli)

I hope this article helped you plan out your garden for next year. Question for you: what did you grow last year, and what new plant do you plan on growing this year? Leave a comment below.

If you're looking to use smaller sized containers to start a garden, check out one of those articles here.
1 Gallon 2 Gallon

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