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SFG using Buckets

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SFG using Buckets Empty SFG using Buckets

Post  Jano on 3/23/2010, 11:42 am


I would like to know instead of using wood to make the frame for the SFG can i use buckets? with a full opening on the bottom.

Each will give me 1 square foot and i can cut them to the depth that i want.

Will this work?


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Post  Lavender Debs on 3/23/2010, 11:51 am

Hi Emak! I was just at a veggie class where they were using colanders, BBQ woks (slotted veggie holders) and pasta inserts as containers. They were going to do buckets but couldn't see putting holes in them. The lady went to garage sales and 2nd hand stores for inexpensive sieves. So far, so good. Some look like they were lined with landscape fabric.

SFG using Buckets March_46

Macro greens for yummy salad

SFG using Buckets March_47
BBQ wok with spinach. Salad and peas in background.

Deborah ….getting dirty in the other Washington
Lavender Debs
Lavender Debs

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Post  martha on 3/23/2010, 12:28 pm

Hello, Emak. Welcome!

I can't envision your plan - like what type of bucket - but why not, if you've got the drainage thing handled.

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Post  tash on 3/23/2010, 1:13 pm

I saw somewhere (sorry I don't have a link) about using those plastic buckets you can get at homedepot or lowes and putting a 2" or so hole in the bottom, sticking a tomato through it, filling the rest with soil, then hanging it up by the handle and either planting the top with something else or just putting the lid on. It works like the topsy ones but cheaper.

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Post  Jano on 3/23/2010, 1:14 pm

Here is an example.

My bed is 2'x50' on one side of my fence.

So i take the bukets and cut all the bottom out.

Then place them like this there is another 4-5" of soil under that and then clay.


Each giving me equal to around 1sqf. It's the 5Gallon buckets.

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Post  orionsbelt on 3/24/2010, 4:51 pm

I don't see why you couldn't use buckets - after all, Mel says that you can do 1"x1" squares, and he also mentions using that plastic-y stuff that they make decks out of (what's it called?) if you want something more durable.

I would recommend doing it slightly differently than you're planning, though.

Rather than cutting the bottoms out of each bucket, you could drill one hole per bucket for drainage (kind of like they have in plant pots). I'm not sure of the best width - just guessing maybe 1"-2"?

Another thing is soil depth. Mel recommends using 6" of Mel's Mix (see his book or another forum post), unless you're planting something like carrots or leeks. If your bucket is more than 6" deep, you can add sand (not regular garden soil) to the bottom of the bucket, until there is 6" remaining for veggies.

You might want to keep an eye on the drainage. Try filling one up with Mel's Mix and sand, then putting it on your bed and adding water. If the water drains easily, you're okay. If it starts to pool or turn to slush, then you may need to elevate your buckets using cinder blocks...or perhaps put them on some gravel, or add those plastic things they use under plant pots.

I'm a novice myself, so you may not want to take my word for it...I'm just guessing from experience I've had growing herbs in containers, watching other gardeners, and also from what I've read in the book and forum posts.

Let me know if this makes sense!

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Post  bonnie0128 on 3/24/2010, 5:13 pm

One thing you may run in to is if you plan to grow something that requires more than one square - like spaghetti squash, zucchini, summer squash, etc.

I've grown tomatoes successfully in 5 gallon buckets (and have seen some people do it so they hang out the bottom) - so I think you'll be fine with most things. I tried zucchini and yellow squash in buckets last year and they did very poorly.

One bonus would be the ability to move things if needed.

And...have you considered how you will make a trellis?

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Post  swripley on 3/24/2010, 5:35 pm

I've been using plain old 5 gallon buckets for years to grow flowers and herbs in. I just use a ¼ drill bit and drill 5 or 6 holes in the bottom. I have a box and bench system on my deck that was designed specifically to hold a 5 gallon bucket. The first few years I just filled the whole thing up with potting soil but when I get up to more than 20 buckets the potting soil got expensive. To save soil and $ I started filling the bottom half of the buckets with regular old dirt and the top half with potting soil. This cost less but weighed a lot more and seemed to have a negative effect on drainage. Then I hit a idea a couple years ago that has been working great. I fill the bottom half of the bucket with Styrofoam packing peanuts, cover with weed block to keep the potting soil from getting in the peanuts and fill to the top with PS. The first couple of times I didn’t use the weed block but it was a hassle the next year when I cleaned out the pots for new plantings. This year I will be using Mel’s Mix instead of potting soil. I buy things on-line a lot so always have peanuts hanging around but you can also purchase very inexpensively at pack and ship stores. The buckets are much lighter even when fully planted and can easily be moved around to rearrange and/or follow the sun. Added benefit, it keeps the Styrofoam peanuts out of the land fill. This year I'm going to mix veggies in with my flowers. Really excited about potatoes!

Last edited by swripley on 3/24/2010, 5:37 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)

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Post  tash on 3/25/2010, 10:05 am

I like the peanuts idea. Just remember that some are made from corn these days and will melt in water. To check just hold one and get it wet. If it disappears it's corn Laughing

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Post  nancy on 3/25/2010, 10:20 am

In my larger flower containers, I put empty soda cans in the bottom and then fill with potting soil. Very light weight and I don't use too much soil. The tuberous begonias last year were the prettiest I've ever had! =)


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Post  nidiyao on 3/25/2010, 11:40 am

I went to the deli in my local grocery store and asked if they had any buckets they were done with, they brought out a cart with about 8 buckets on it, I'm going to grow tomatoes in them after I drill some holes.

I would be sure to use food grade buckets!

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