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How To Grow Vegetables In 5 Gallon Buckets - An Attractive DIY Solution!

You might be surprised at just how simple, attractive, and productive it can be to grow vegetables in 5 gallon buckets.

But you are about to find out!

Today’s article is all about growing vegetables with ease. In one of the most commonly found items around – a 5 gallon bucket!

growing vegetables in buckets
A five gallon bucket is the perfect size for growing most vegetables. And, it’s easy to spruce up with an attractive and useful DIY bucket cover.

As it turns out, the 5 gallon bucket, with just a few slight modifications, can be turned into quite the beautiful little growing machine.

Creating A Garden Anywhere – How To Grow Vegetables In 5 Gallon Buckets

Now, don’t think for a minute we would ever give up our Raised Row Garden.

It has always and will always be our favorite, most productive way to garden. (See : How To Garden With Ease With A Raised Row Garden)

But for some, finding enough space or time to garden can be extremely difficult. For others, the physical demands of gardening can be a struggle as well.

Last but not least, no matter the situation, sometimes, it’s nice to grow vegetables on a patio nearby the grill or kitchen for quick picking.

buckets used for harvesting in the garden
Don’t just pick your harvest in 5 gallon buckets – grow your harvest in them!

We’ve been growing extra veggies in 5 gallon buckets this way for years.

Not only is it a simple way to plant and maintain, it can all be made quite attractive with a wooden DIY bucket cover. It even works perfectly to create gorgeous flowering planters as well!

Here are the simple steps to success to create your own 5 gallon buckets for growing vegetables, flowers and more.

Modifying A 5 Gallon Bucket For Growing

To grow in 5 gallon buckets, you need to first create a few drainage holes. Nothing will kill plants quicker that water-logging plants.

First, start by using a 3/4″ drill bit to quickly make five to eight holes in the bottom of each bucket.

We grew this San Marzano tomato plant on our patio two years ago. It yielded well over 1 and a half bushels of amazing tomatoes!

To keep the holes from becoming plugged, we use pine bark nuggets in the bottom 2 inches of each bucket. They do a wonderful job of keeping the soil from compacting down over the holes.

You can also use a few rocks or gravel, but the pine bark is a much lighter option.

Provide Great Soil : 

Next, it’s time to put in great soil to grow great plants. The soil for container growing needs to be healthy, rich and fertile to power plants all season long.

We make our own homemade potting soil from simple organic ingredients. See : How To Make Incredible Homemade Potting Soil.

soil for container plants
The right soil mix makes all the difference when growing in containers.

It is an inexpensive way to fill the buckets. Especially if you are going to plant more than one or two.

You can of course purchase high quality potting soil as well. See : Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix – $7.99

Making It All Attractive

Now it’s time to make it all attractive with a homemade DIY bucket cover.

The bucket covers are both easy and inexpensive to make. In fact, you can even build them with pallets for free.

But they serve a bigger purpose than just adding an attractive touch.

5 gallon bucket grow box
This DIY growing box cover is easy and inexpensive to build.

For one, they help to insulate the soil in the buckets. Buckets left uncovered are easily heated up by the sun, which can injure plants.

The covers also serve as an excellent way to attach a trellis or growing support.

And if you are growing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers or any other large vining plants – a trellis is a must!

How To Build 5 Gallon Bucket Covers

Since soil will never come in contact with the wood, you can use reclaimed lumber or pallets to build the boxes. 

You can also use traditional 2 x 6 framing or treated lumber as a low-cost alternative.

All work and look great. And, all can be painted or stained to dress up the finished box.

Making The Bucket Covers

Building Containers For Growing
You can easily build your boxes with reclaimed pallet wood, treated lumber, or untreated framing lumber.

Most 5 gallon buckets measure 12″ wide and about 14″ to 14.5″ high.

By creating a grow box with a minimum 14″x 14″ inside measurement and a height of 15″, you leave plenty of space for the bucket and the trellis inside. And, enough height to cover the bucket.

2″ x 6″ framing or 1″ x 6″ decking lumber actually work great for 5 gallon bucket grow boxes. They create a perfect 15″ x 15″ inside diameter when put together and overlapped on the ends. (see picture).  

To hold the boards together, we attach a simple trim piece to the bottom and top of the grow box.

You can get as basic or fancy as you like with the trim. Straight corners are strong and quick to assemble. You can miter the corner trim pieces at a 45 degree angle for a more “elegant” look.

Building and Attaching A Trellis

A trellis is quite easy to attach to the sturdy, finished box. To make our trellis, we purchased a cattle panel. We then cut it down into 15″ wide x 4′ high strips.

grow vegetables in 5 gallon buckets
A few trellis styles for the grow boxes. The cattle panel is on the right.

It fits and attaches with u-nails inside of the grow box to form an instant sturdy 4′ high grid.

You can make or purchase wood trellises as well for the boxes.

How To Grow In 5 Gallon Buckets – Planting & Maintaining

Planting is a breeze!

next, simply plant vegetable plants in the soil as you would in the garden. A bit of straw or compost as a mulch will help to keep moisture in and any weed seeds out.

When it comes to container growing, adding a bit of natural fertilizer every 2 to three weeks really helps plants reach their full potential.

worm casting plant fertilizer
Worm castings are the perfect all-natural slow release fertilizer

As many of you know, we swear by worm castings. A quarter cup of worm casting placed on top of the soil every month works wonders for fertilizing plants. See : 15 lb bag / worm castings

And at the end of summer, clean up couldn’t be easier!

Simply pull the plants out, and dump the contents (minus the rocks or pine bark of course) into the compost pile! The soil gets recharged, and your clean up chores are completed in seconds.

Here is to trying to grow vegetables in 5 gallon buckets. Just another great way to grow a little more of the food you eat!

Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary.

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How To Grow Vegetables In 5 Gallon Buckets – An Attractive DIY Solution!