Bucket Food? Weird name right? Doesn’t sound at all appetizing I know…but stay with me. I called this site bucketfood.com because you don’t need a fancy garden, raised garden beds, or an expensive green house. You only need buckets. Buckets, pots, containers…it doesn’t matter. 5 gallon buckets are nice because they have handles, and allow for easier moving or transport if needed.
5 GALLON BUCKETS? YES!
Most of you will likely have at least one 5 gallon bucket lying around. If not, they are very inexpensive at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s. If you aren’t fortunate enough to live near one of these stores, here is a link for a nice 10 count starter pack. Now these may not look pretty, but your plants don’t care what they grow in. They just want to grow! Why a 5 gallon bucket, why not something smaller? The more room you give your plant’s root system to grow, the bigger and stronger it will be. A bigger, stronger plant is a healthier plant, and a healthier plant will have a higher yield.
PREPARING YOUR BUCKET(s)
Wherever you get your buckets from, you will want to drill about 12 to 15 holes in the bottom around the edge, and a few in the middle to allow for water drainage. There is no required pattern of holes to follow, just whatever looks right to you. I personally aim for a semmetrical spacing. A 3/8″ or 5/16″ size drill bit will do the trick. Anything larger and you could wind up losing soil.
FILL ER’ UP!
Now it’s time to put your soil into the bucket, filling it to about 1 inch from the top. If you are just starting out, you can use a 50/50 mixture of regular dirt, and mushroom soil or a compost mix you can get from your local home and garden store. If your soil is bad, and you just can’t seem to ever grown anything, there is a good chance your soil pH levels are low. You can get soil pH test kits to see where your levels are. Most vegetable plants love soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0. If your soil pH is too low or too high, have no fear, you can fix your soil! But you need to know what your pH level is before you treat it.
Too low (acidic), you need to add limestone to raise pH levels. Too high, you need to add sulfur to lower pH levels. The texture also has a lot to do with your overall plant health, be it clay, sandy soil, etc.
Soil pH levels aren’t a set it and forget it. Rain water, fertilizers, and other natural occurrences can strip your pH levels back down, so it’s good to constantly monitor your soil pH levels. Doing this will ensure your bucket foods will produce for you year after year.
WATER YOUR SOIL
Before you go transplanting your seedlings or well started plants, it’s always a good idea to water your soil and let it drain down through for a minute or two. Using good eye judgement, make a hole in the center of the 5 gallon bucket that will accommodate your plant and it’s root ball. Easiest way to do this is to dig out a hole in the middle big enough that you can comfortably fit your smaller pot (the one your plant has been living in for a few weeks) so the top of the dirt closely matches the top level of soil in the bucket. Then when you pull your plant from it’s smaller container, dip the root ball into a bucket of water before putting into the 5 gallon bucket. This will give your roots a nice deep drink and moisten any dry roots that could be prone to breakage when moving from one container to another. Gently place the root ball into the hole you created in the 5 gallon bucket and fill in any gaps with soil you dug out previously. Give that newly transplanted plant a good watering, and you are all set. If your bucket had a lid, you can place the lid under the bucket to prevent your roots from climbing out of the drainage holes and into the ground. This is helpful for when you need to move your plants around for whatever reason.
Depending on the type of plant, slap a plant cage into the bucket and you are all ready to start growing your own bucket food. Plants like peppers don’t generally require a plant cage like tomatoes, but I use plant cages on all of my plants. It only takes one strong storm with high winds to destroy all of your hard work.