How to Garden With 5-Gallon Buckets

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Today it’s all about how to garden with 5-gallon buckets. Here’s the deal, we can’t all have 1-20 acres of land, right? Some of us have postage stamp lots like me, some have a porch and some have a balcony. But I’ll bet we all love picking those fresh sweet tomatoes in the summer. If you have ever had a garden, big or small, that first red tomato is gold, my friends. Maybe not worth as much as gold, but oh my gosh, I can smell the bacon cooking right now to go with those tomatoes to make the very best BLT!

In my neighborhood, very few people have a garden. In my humble opinion, I’m not sure they love to garden as much I do. I love getting my hands on the earth and experimenting with what I can grow in the desert. The good thing about living in Southern Utah I can have two gardens, if I plan ahead. I start seedlings inside while my garden is coming to an end outside. Now, I also have to cover the tomatoes with garden shade cloth to help modify the temperatures. This is the product I have used, Garden Shade Cloth. With that being said, I think it’s important to grow your own food whether inside, in a yard, in a bucket, or in a raised garden bed.

How to Garden With 5-Gallon Buckets

Why Plant Fruit and Vegetables in 5-Gallon Buckets?

You may be thinking, what in the world, why would I use a 5-gallon bucket to garden? Well, besides not having the space for an outdoor garden, there are a variety of benefits to using 5-gallon buckets. Here are just a few:

  1. You don’t need a huge backyard. You can grow food whether you have a backyard or not. In fact, you can even set these buckets right on your front porch or deck.
  2. It saves space. You still get plenty of food, but the buckets save space in your yard or another growing spot.
  3. Plants don’t get trampled. I don’t know about you, but when I had little ones running around, someone would seem to always trample something.
  4. They prevent rabbits and other small animals from eating your food. Although they could probably figure out how to get up in your plants, having them higher than ground level deters quite a bit of nibbling.
  5. No poor soil. When you put plants in a bucket, you know the soil is good for growing. And, you don’t have to deal with nasty weeds.
  6. The buckets are portable. If you notice your tomato plants are not getting enough sun, you can simply pick the bucket up and move it to a better location.

5-Gallon Bucket Gardening Cons

As stated above, there are a lot of benefits to gardening using a 5-gallon bucket. However, I do think it is important to note that there are also a few cons. Because the plants are in buckets, you may have to do more than you would if they were planted in the ground. Here are the few cons that I found to bucket gardening:

  1. You have to water more often. Make sure you water your plants regularly. The roots can’t dig into the ground to find more water if they are thirsty.
  2. The soil has to be replenished and amended. The soil in the bucket can’t replenish its nutrients as it would be able to in the ground. Each time you plant new plants, you will need to replenish and amend the soil with nutrients.
  3. There’s a cost to materials. Obviously, you may need to buy seeds to grow a garden anywhere, but with buckets, it costs a bit more than just planting in your yard due to the cost of the buckets and the purchased soil.
Read More of My Articles  The 8 Easiest Vegetables To Grow For Beginners

How to Garden With 5-Gallon Buckets

Not everyone has a plot of land they can use to plant a garden. With that being said, there are plenty of ways you can still grow your own food! Instead of digging up your yard, you can use 5-gallon buckets to plant a variety of plants.

Items You Will Need

Step One

Mark and I picked up five 5-gallon buckets at a local grocery store. They were in the paint department priced at $2.99 each. I made sure they were BPA-Free and food-grade. I did not need the lids, so that saved me a dollar or so.

5-Gallon Buckets

Step Two

We used a 1/2-inch drill bit to make four holes in the bottom of each bucket so the plants can drain after being watered. We just randomly drilled them, with no specific spacing.

How to Garden With 5-Gallon Buckets

Step Three

Mark drilled four holes around the sides of the buckets (about 1-2 inches) from the bottom of each one to help circulate air within each container. We had to use some pliers to break off some of the plastic residue after drilling them.

How to Garden With 5-Gallon Buckets

Step Four

When I went to find gravel, I couldn’t find any in a small quantity, so I opted for small rocks called marble chips. You need to fill each bucket with 2-3 inches of gravel, or in my case small rocks. To be honest, I didn’t want small gravel, I was afraid it would fall out of my 1/2-inch drilled holes.


Step Five

We put about 3-inches of rock (small rocks) in each 5-gallon bucket for proper drainage before we added the soil.

Buckets with rocks

Step Six

This is the soil I purchased because it’s made by Dr. Q, a company I’ve had good experience with, and it’s made specifically for containers. It’s organic and is formulated for planting in containers.

r. Q Organic Container Soil

Step Seven

After filling the buckets with the rocks we purchased we filled the 5-gallon buckets with the soil shown above.

Buckets with Soil

Step 8

After you have set up your 5-gallon bucket, you can plant your seeds, seedlings, or plants into the buckets.

Why Do You Drill Holes in The 5-Gallon Bucket?

Don’t skip over drilling holes in your bucket. If you don’t drill holes, you may end up with dead plants. The holes help to protect your plants from water pooling up into the roots, especially during hard rains or excessive watering. If there is too much water by the roots, they can rot. Additionally, the plant won’t get enough oxygen and nutrients from the soil.

What Food Grows Well in 5-gallon buckets?

Unfortunately, not everything you may want to plant will grow well in a 5-gallon bucket. Below, I will give you a list of what foods you can grow in your buckets and how many of each you should plant per bucket:

  • Tomatoes. You can plant cherry or bush tomatoes as they work best. Keep in mind, you only want to plant 1 tomato plant per bucket to prevent overcrowding.
  • Cucumbers. Cucumbers are great to grow since you can eat them in salads, pickle them, or just enjoy them with some ranch dressing. Plant only 1 plant per bucket.
  • Melons. I love a good watermelon. These get rather big, so, you will only want to put 1 plant per bucket.
  • Squash. You can do all kinds of things with fresh squash. It grows well in a bucket, but you can only plant 1 plant per bucket.
  • Eggplant. This is another one that you can only put one plant per bucket.
  • Peppers. Whether it’s hot pepper or bell peppers, only plant 2 plants per bucket.
  • Beans. The best kind of beans to plant in a bucket are Bush beans. You can plant 3 plants per bucket.
  • Onions. Not only are onions a good source of nutrition, but they can get expensive to buy all the time. You can plant 4 of them per bucket.
  • Lettuce. We all need those leafy greens. You can plant 4 per bucket.
  • Carrots. Great for your eyes and perfect as snacks, you can plant 10 carrots per bucket.
  • Radishes. I love radishes on a salad. Plant radishes 10 Per bucket.
  • Herbs. You can plant many different kinds of herbs in your bucket. One herb plant will spread and fill the entire bucket.
Read More of My Articles  What To Plant In April-Zones 1-10

This is where I buy all of my garden seeds: SeedsNow.

5-Gallon Bucket Gardening Tips and Tricks

This gardening method is pretty straightforward, but along the way, you always learn a few tips and tricks. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when using 5-gallon buckets for gardening:

  • Companion plants. Companion plants are beneficial and can help keep nasty bugs away while attracting good ones.
  • Give the buckets a twist every week. Giving the buckets a quarter twist each week helps plants not to grow lopsided since they love to seek out the sun.
  • Insecticides. You can combine four to five tablespoons of concentrated dish soap with one gallon of water to make insecticide. Mix it well and use a spray bottle to apply.
  • You can reuse your potting mix. Amend it and replace it with fresh ingredients once per year, remove dead plants, and shake loose soil from roots. Fill it back up and use it again.

Seeds or Live Plants?

What is best to plant in your buckets, seeds or live plants? I have used seeds, but many have said that live plants thrive best in buckets. If you don’t have a green thumb, I would suggest buying live plants. Today, I planted plants from the nursery. My seedlings are not big enough for a “picture” yet, Lol! I needed to get this post up for all to see. So many people don’t have access to land, so here they are! I will be covering them tonight with domes to protect them from rain or frost.

There are so many vegetables you can grow outdoors, depending on where you live. Check out my posts on what to plant each month of the year!

Garden Gloves

These are my favorite garden gloves: DIGZ Garden Gloves. They come in different sizes, that’s what I love the most. These are the best rose bush gloves: DIGZ Rose Bush Garden Gloves I have to get the large size for my hands. These are awesome! In case you missed this post, Container Gardens: Everything You Need To Know

Final Word

I hope you enjoyed my post today on how to garden with 5-gallon buckets. I love growing a majority of my food, and I bet you would like to! Life is good if we live and learn to work through issues growing fruits and vegetables. If you have a Farmer’s Market near you, you are so lucky! Let’s grow as much food as we can, we can do it! May God Bless this world, Linda

22 thoughts on “How to Garden With 5-Gallon Buckets

  • March 28, 2021 at 6:57 am

    I’m working on stands for plastic 55gl drums split in half right now doing a raised bed container garden.
    I’ve done tomatoes successfully with buckets before.
    This is definitely a year you want to try your hand at it gardening, continue or expand. Things are just too unstable.

    • March 28, 2021 at 7:59 am

      Hi Matt, please send me pictures after you plant, I will share the pictures. Everyone needs to sharpen their gardening skills. I’m glad to hear you have done tomatoes in buckets. We need everyone to grow most of their food going forward. Life is crazy. Linda

      • March 28, 2021 at 10:47 am

        In hindsight as I’m working here make sure the rucks you get fit drainage are larger than the holes you drilled for drainage.
        Such a duh moment lol

        • March 28, 2021 at 11:45 am

          Hi Matt, oh my gosh, at least you know how to make one of those! Linda

  • March 28, 2021 at 7:22 am

    A friend of mine had some buckets that cow minerals came in and planted potatoes in it. She had quite a bit of small red potatoes make in it. I may have to try that. She gave me some of the buckets before she moved to South Texas.

    • March 28, 2021 at 8:04 am

      Hi Deborah, I love fresh potatoes picked from the garden. They are so much better than store-bought potatoes. Keep me posted on growing them!! Linda

      • March 28, 2021 at 11:30 am

        We’ve grown them in the ground before. We got about 300 pounds. LOL I just want some eating occasionally. We love them with green beans, too. The little red ones.

        • March 28, 2021 at 11:46 am

          Hi Deborah, oh my gosh, I have never grown 300 pounds of potatoes! I have the giggles picturing that many! Now, that’s a harvest! Linda

  • March 28, 2021 at 8:06 am

    I have a bad fungus in my entire yard and can’t grow much..just hosta, monkey grass, rose of sharon, lilies, and crape mrytle. Everything else has died.
    I might try tomato plants, but have to have new buckets, and soil.

    Even the concrete blocks used in the raised bed were contaminated. Warned the recipient of those.

    • March 28, 2021 at 8:18 am

      Hi JayJay, oh, the fungus is the worst. Wow, you may want to check with your state extension to see how to remedy it. That’s a shame to have land and not be able to grow what you want. Linda

    • March 29, 2021 at 5:46 am

      You’ll have to place them where mowing debris doesn’t get to it. A bagger will help

  • March 28, 2021 at 8:10 am

    OH, OH,,OH…I have 20 gallon drums in the attic with no lids and I can try to cut them –they
    are great trash cans but I don’t need that many trash cans.

    Now, if I had someone to cut them…thinking face here.

    • March 29, 2021 at 5:43 am


      Use a circular saw. Turn the blade backwards and do not stand directly behind it.
      I cut my steel roofing material this way. I just marked the blade with a sharpie and only use it for metal.

  • March 28, 2021 at 9:31 am

    Oh, Linda,
    When I saw the title of your post, “How to Garden WITH 5-Gallon Buckets” I thought you were talking about taking a 5-gallon bucket and filling it from your neighbors garden. I was afraid you had gone to the dark side. After reading the post, I realized you meant “How to Garden IN 5-Gallon Buckets!” LOL!! Just kidding. Gotta have a little humor now and then.

    • March 28, 2021 at 9:56 am

      Hi Harry, oh my gosh!! I have the giggles now!! I don’t know anyone in my neighborhood that has a garden! Those buckets would come home empty!! Oh, my gosh, you made my day!! We all need humor!! I love it! Linda

  • March 28, 2021 at 8:20 pm

    I am so excited to try this! We are in Maryland and have really hot, humid summers. I grew up with parents who had a huge garden and canned or froze all the produce. My RA keeps me from being able to weed a ground garden, so this sounds perfect for me. And it’s a great homeschool project. : ) We’ve been doing container flowers for years but I just gave up on the idea of a vegetable garden. Thank you for inspiring me! My 10yo daughter is going to love this.

    • March 29, 2021 at 6:22 am

      Hi Steff, thank you for your kind words! I hadn’t thought about it being a homeschool project!! I Love it! I love flowers in containers too! They bring me joy! Have fun and enjoy your harvest! Linda

  • March 30, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    I live in SE Utah (Moab) where it consistently can get well over 100 degrees every day for a month in the summer. We have had a great in-ground garden (and plan to continue it) but would like to try to grow some things in buckets. My question is I have heard the bucket system won’t let the root system be cool and plants die. What does the hive mind say?

    • March 30, 2021 at 2:41 pm

      Hi Grandutefan, I love Moab! I live near St. George so I’m used to temps higher than 100 degrees in the summer. Stay tuned, I will be taking pictures every single month or so. I want to know if they will work. I grow potatoes in pots but they are 18 inches wide and at least 18-inches high. I have seven four-foot square raised garden beds as well. But people need other options besides the ground or raised beds. Fingers crossed they work, I grow stuff in smaller pots so I have no doubt they will work. Fingers crossed, Linda

      • March 31, 2021 at 9:35 am

        Thanks for the reply Linda. We had great success with tomatoes, potatoes and cucs grown in the ground last year. It will be interesting trying some raised bed stuff.

  • April 1, 2021 at 3:24 am

    I have started planting in buckets and big flower pots over the years. They are good because I have
    bad knees and can’t do a in ground garden anymore. I have a old cistern and have my flower pots
    and buckets on it so it is a really raised garden. I can’t wait to get my tomato plants and get them in the “ground”. I have always had home grown veggies. My mom and grandma both had a garden and I
    have a smaller garden but still have fresh veggies. I have always had home canned pickles and one time I went to Walmart to buy a jar for some reason and I just stood there looking. I had no idea there was so many kinds of pickles. Took me a while but I finally got a jar. I’ll stick to my home canned ones. Also nothing better than fresh tomatoes, or tomato juice. Even better in the winter.

    • April 1, 2021 at 5:24 am

      Hi June, oh, fresh tomatoes are the best! Life is so good when we can plant vegetables and enjoy our harvest. Linda


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