Looking for easy ways to get your daily 2-3 cups of nutrient-packed veggies? You might find the answer in a bucket.
“Most any vegetable can be grown in a simple container,” says Jessica Beesley of Estabrook’s garden center in Yarmouth, Maine. And it’s surprisingly simple to get growing.
Four steps to home-grown
1. Find containers with proper capacity. Lots of people use simple plastic buckets with a hole or two drilled in the bottom to allow for drainage. Size is important. Big growers – like tomatoes and zucchini – need five gallon-containers, one plant per bucket. Small-scale plants like lettuce, herbs, and radishes, do fine in one-gallon containers or window boxes.
2. Use the right soil. Dirt from your yard won’t support vegetables properly. Choose a good quality potting soil and plan to fertilize regularly.
3. Provide water and sun. Most vegetables need at least 6 hours of full sun per day; 8 is ideal. Container plants need more water than those planted in the ground. Depending on sun and wind, you may need to water two or three times a day. “The trick is keep the moisture even,” advises Beesley. Don’t oversaturate or let soil completely dry out.
4. Don’t forget to consider drainage. Mark Sundermann, a Master Gardener with Maine Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Volunteer program, and Website Content Specialist at Martin’s Point, suggests, “To improve drainage in a bucket, line the bottom fifth of the bucket with stones, or gravel, making sure not to block drainage holes.”
As for picking your plants, at this point in the season and to keep it simple, choose seedlings, not seeds. Look for these container-happy varieties at your local garden center or ask staff for their recommendations:
- Tomatoes: Husky Red, Patio, Sprite
Sundermann adds, “When you grow tomatoes in a bucket avoid “indeterminate” varieties that will grow to 6-12 feet high and require staking or caging, try to use “determinate” varieties that are bush like and compact.”
- Lettuces: Salad Bowl, Tom Thumb
- Zucchini: Eight ball, Raven
Have fun with combining plants in one container. A container with one tomato plant, a basil plant or two, and a nasturtium or two to flow over the edge will give you all the ingredients for a plate of sliced tomatoes, except the mozzarella.
And be sure to consider what is perhaps Beesley’s best advice:
“Choose vegetables you like to eat, and you’re much more likely to put your crop to good use.”