There's a solution: Bucket gardening. All you need are some 5-gallon buckets, rocks, peat moss, planting soil, and compost. That might sound like a lot, but it's actually very simple.
Grow Fruits & Vegetables in Buckets
by Sherri Sanders
Are you quarantined because of the COVID-19 virus? Do you live in an apartment or a house with a small backyard? Have you always wanted a garden but don’t have enough space?
Searcy, Ark. –
Not only is bucket gardening a great solution for people with limited space, it also has many advantages over traditional gardening. You can have a greater variety of plants, you won’t have to do any weeding, and you’ll have fewer pests to deal with.
If you decide to give it a try, the first thing you need to ask yourself what you’re going to grow. Beginners should always start with very easy plants.
Here’s a list of fruits and veggies you can grow in buckets:
Arugula isn’t a particularly well-known plant, but its sweet and spicy flowers along with its spicy leaves have made it a favorite among many gardeners. Best of all, arugula is quite easy to grow in a bucket, as it doesn’t require any more space than the average herb plant.
Chard is a leafy green from the same family as beets. It grows like lettuce, but it has a slightly longer growing season. It is cold hardy good for double season crop for spring and fall but will likely go to seed during the summer and then not be harvestable in fall. If you decide to grow beets, you could skip the chard since beet greens are nearly identical in taste to chard.
Any brassica can be grown in pots, but kale is the easiest since it doesn’t have to form anything other than nice fresh leaves. Kale can be grown throughout the year, but it tastes best after it has had a touch of frost.
All three of these greens can be used for repeat suppliers of your salad. You can harvest them down to the soil then when they get to be two inches tall, they can be harvested again.
Lettuce is a prime choice for container gardening with plenty of varieties to choose from. Lettuce works well in shallow containers, and if you want you can inter-plant it with slower growing veggies. Lettuce is great for early spring and late fall harvesting. You can plant lettuce while there is still danger of frost, and plant again in the fall after it starts getting cool. You can even bring your lettuce pots indoors to extend the growing season into early winter.
Peppers come in many shapes, sizes, and flavors, giving you plenty of choices to choose from. As a shallow-rooted plant, peppers typically do quite well when grown in containers. Ultimately, the variety of pepper that you choose depends on how much spice you are looking for. Whichever variety you go with, though, you shouldn’t have many issues growing a healthy pepper plant in a 5-gallon bucket.
Beets are like chard, but they need deeper soil and more watering. Beets are an awesome root vegetable for containers. Choose smaller beet varieties, or heritage varieties to have the most fun in your container garden. If you’d rather not eat beets because of their overpowering red effects, you could try yellow or albino beets.
Broccoli feeds more heavily than many plants, meaning that it needs a little more space to grow than you might realize. However, a five-gallon bucket offers plenty of space for growing a single broccoli plant.
Easy to grow, and in a container, they are very easy to space out or even transplant to make sure they grow well. Choose smaller varieties that do not grow a super long taproot and try to match the variety to the depth of container you are using. Heritage varieties are often sweeter, and smaller than standard varieties. Try Dragon for a fun purple and brilliant orange carrot.
Figs are one of the few plants that grow better in a container since fig plants grow larger, better fruit when their root systems are restricted. Figs are also known for being quite hardy plants that are simple to grow.
Onions are simple to grow and make a great addition to many recipes and salads. The only real difficulty that you may encounter with growing onions in a bucket is having enough space to grow a worthwhile amount of onions. With enough buckets, though, it’s easy to grow a good amount of onions. Try out one of the candy hybrid varieties if you are looking for a sweeter, more flavorful onion to grow.
Quick to grow and a perfect spring crop to round out your green salads. Choose small short-season radishes so that they come to maturity before the heat hits.
For container gardening, choose bush been varieties. They have a shorter grow time than pole beans and are compact enough for any yard. Most bush bean plants max out size at one square foot and produce well throughout the season. If you have a porch railing and narrow containers at its foot, you could try some pole bean varieties as well.
Most cucumbers are vining plants, so either choose bush varieties for your container garden or practice vertical gardening and train them up the side of the house, porch, or deck. Lemon Cucumber is an awesome little bush cucumber and works well if you have a short season.
Eggplant plants share a lot of similarities with squash in regard to both the plant’s root system and the size of the fruit that it produces, making eggplant another great choice for bucket gardening.
Summer squash, bush zucchini, and other small squashes can work in container gardens. Bush zucchini and summer squash require deep, nutrient-rich soil, but only take up about 4 square feet. Just having two zucchini plants can give you more than enough zucchini for a summer. Vining squash are not recommended for container gardens, unless you have a large patio or outdoor area for them to cover.
Probably the container planting go-to crop, tomatoes are ubiquitous in containers. Choose smaller plant varieties if your container garden space is limited. Cherry tomatoes are stunning producers, and the tiny tomatoes are easy to dry if the plants over-produce. Cherry tomatoes usually fruit sooner than the larger tomato varieties. We had the Sun-Gold cherry tomatoes in our trial last year – it was hit!
Blueberries do grow well in containers. Blueberries require plenty of water, lots of sunlight, and acidic soil. If you give them these three things, though, it is entirely possible to grow a healthy, productive blueberry plant in a bucket.
Yes, lemons can be grown in containers, or indoors in climates that are too cold for outdoor growing. Meyer lemons are the smallest variety, more of a bush, and grow exceptionally well in pots. You can start your own lemon tree from seed. You can also try other citrus like limes, or mini oranges for container or indoor growing.
Melons are large fruits with equally large root systems, which means that growing them in buckets can sometimes be a challenge. With that said, it is entirely possible to grow many varieties of melons in buckets if you use the right approach. If this is your first attempt at growing melons in buckets, try sticking with smaller melon varieties such as cantaloupes and miniature watermelons.
These are an awesome container plant, particularly if you get a strawberry tower or similar contraption to help maximize space. A strawberry plant usually has a productive life of three or four years.
For specific information on recommended varieties for Arkansas’ growing conditions refer to our website at www.uaex.uada.edu. The University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. For more information you can contact your local county extension service, you can also follow Sherri Sanders on Facebook @UADA.WhiteCountyAgriculture .
By Sherri Sanders
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Sherri Sanders
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
2400 Old Searcy Landing Road, Searcy AR 72143
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.