Tucked away in a tiny corner of the garden this year, was our Any Age, Anywhere Experimental Container Garden. It was our little trial to see how our tomato and pepper plants would grow in simple containers. And the results certainly surprised us! 

container garden
The San Marzano tomato growing wild in the 5 gallon bucket container

Realizing that not everyone has the space, time or ability to have a traditional garden – we wanted to see what we could be grown successfully in a non-traditional, but still basic – container based garden set-up. 

The goal was simple. Design an inexpensive and functional container garden that anyone, of any age could plant. It needed to be easy to create, maintain and harvest – and conserve on space. It also of course had to produce a big enough yield to make it all worthwhile. 

For the experiment, we built and trialed three different sized container boxes. A 5 gallon bucket size, along with a 10 and 15 gallon nursery sized container.

The Results – Why A 5 Gallon Bucket Is The Perfect Workhorse!

Of all of the sizes we trialed, I have to say that we were both most impressed with the plants grown in plain old 5 gallon buckets.  We thought that the larger containers might be more productive with more soil. But as it turned out, the 5 gallon buckets grew the plants just as well. They were also much easier to handle!

container garden
We built container boxes to not only cover the buckets, but serve as an anchor for a growing trellis. We built ours for free from reclaimed barn wood and pallets.

We grew three tomato varieties and two peppers in our 5 gallon buckets – and they all performed unbelieveably well.  

In fact, our San Marzano, Roma and Jalapeno pepper plants continue to be three of our heaviest producing plants in the entire garden! Each of the single tomato plants has produced nearly a bushel of tomatoes over the course of the year. And the jalapeno plant has been been just as productive – with heavy fruiting all season.

Advantages of the Bucket Container Garden Method

The container garden bucket method has many other built in advantages as well. The wooden cover not only looks great in the garden, it also serves as a strong anchor for the trellis – which keeps plants growing strong in the toughest of winds. 

container garden
One of our first container experiments – our potato crates

The grow boxes also virtually eliminated weeding, and made the chores of planting, watering and harvesting a snap. 

It just goes to show you that no matter where you live – you can grow your own vegetables!  I think we are both looking forward to expanding the trials a little more with the 5 gallon buckets next year!

For more information on the trials – you can check out our page devoted to the entire method here :  The Any Age Garden

Happy Container Gardening! – Jim and Mary.  To receive our Recipes, DIY and Gardening articles each week, sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column above, “Like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. You can also check out our new book, Growing Simple, now available on Amazon.com.

 




11 thoughts on “The Garden Bucket Experiment – A Container Garden Made Easy!

  • September 6, 2016 at 9:20 am
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    Hello! I work in a public school system and run a garden at one of the schools. I’d like to have some containers set up around the cafeterias to help expose students to growing plants. We get a lot of light through the windows, so I think it could work. I’m looking for suggestions for fall/spring fruits or veggies so that the students can see the plants during the school year. Thanks!

    • September 6, 2016 at 1:13 pm
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      Retta, that’s a fantastic idea. I would suggest pepper and tomatoes as OWG suggests- they do well in containers. Spinach and kale are great late season plants. The spinach will have to be planted early spring and will enjoy the cooler temps- it will die off as it gets hotter. Then it can be landed again late summer/early fall and may not amount to much but will return first thing in the spring, while snow patches still adorn the grass. Kale liek the cool weather too but will hang on throughout the summer and carry on into late fall. Although, depending on your zone, some hardy plants will not overwinter if they are in pots (their roots are better protected from cold temperatures when they’re in the ground). Ground cherries are a good one to try, they do have a long growing season but will produce little round tomato-like fruits in a papery husk. They are sweet and considered a fruit. Beans are quick growers and can be grown up a trellis positioned in the pot.
      Wow! This will be much fun. Best of luck

  • September 5, 2016 at 8:59 am
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    If you have a LOT of buckets, you can put them together in a “kiddie pool” you can buy at a Big Lots or Walmart. Then you are watering all of them at once. The water enters through the holes you drilled in the bottom of the buckets.

  • September 5, 2016 at 8:55 am
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    Remember to drill holes in the bottom of the buckets for drainage! I use a “hole bit” which is for drilling holes in doors for door knobs.

  • September 5, 2016 at 5:20 am
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    In case any of your readers would like to try this type of gardening, I wanted to share that 5 gallon containers can be had for free at most grocery stores or bakeries. Icing comes in these sized buckets, and they are usually happy to give them to you just for the asking. Also, the deli section may get olives, pickles or other veggies in them for their sub-making section. We have a neighbor who owns several bakeries, and she just leaves them out for me by her garage door during the week to pick up! Score!
    Happy planting, y’all!

  • September 5, 2016 at 1:28 am
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    Hi, I look forward to your weekly gardening advise, I always plant my tomatoes & peppers in PB28 , they are about 15inches high and about 12 inches in diameter . I am sure you can obtain them over your way. Planting in a bag I always put 4inches of mix into the bag and plant the tomato of abut 6in high. As the tomato grows I add more mix until
    about 2inches from top of bag, By growing this way the tomato grows roots all the way up the stem. More roots more growth. I put shredded paper in the top two inches of the bag this stops water splashes which causes fungus.
    John, from
    New Zealand

  • September 4, 2016 at 4:08 pm
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    I live in Canada so I’m not sure of container fruit in your area .I find strawberries grew fine here also honey berries.Im presently growing cantelope in containers but I do have sun the small type are sweet and do well. Sharon

  • September 4, 2016 at 1:39 pm
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    Thank you! My “yard” is a 9th floor balcony in Arlington VA, facing north…so we haven’t attempted much in the way of gardening up here. The bucket garden sounds like a doable first step. We get tons of indirect light, but only a couple hours of direct sun…in July! Any advice on plants that might actually bear fruit in these conditions?

  • September 4, 2016 at 10:33 am
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    You will love it.Sharon

  • September 4, 2016 at 10:26 am
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    I agree on container growing I had a large deck I started with 3 pots and eventually a whole deck garden water feature and all, I’m a pepper lady at heart I grew fabulous peppers different kinds most Hungarian banana and sweet red some chilli also tomatoes herbs and veggies . People would come and visit and have tea and relax in my deck garden Oh ! and flowers on deck railing and hanging I enjoyed the butterflies and birds.If there was bad weather I had it set up to cover with tarps and hooks .sharon

  • September 4, 2016 at 8:48 am
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    Thank you so much for all your wealth of information. I’ m trying this. Have a good and safe Labor Day weekend.

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