Growing Food That “Thrives” - In 5 Gallon Buckets 🥕🍆🍅

Ridley's Wreckage

I live on a hobby farm, and I love my little piece of heaven. Besides the animals, I love my gardens. I’m really beginning to get that gardening bug. Being able to work the land and get my hands dirty is really a joy for me. I love all things flowers, but we mostly focus on growing food, for us and the animals. I will throw a plant anywhere. My garden areas are a tad limited due to my free ranging chickens and goats (who should not free range but manage to break out frequently- good thing we live on a lot of property stinkers). Sometimes (more often than not) my garden plot is a 5 gallon bucket.

First let me say that we use food grade buckets on our farm - they are actually from a local bakery that gets their frosting from the buckets. So score one for the homestead, food grade which is what we want and they were free. You can otherwise buy them at Lowes or off Amazon, but I recommend trying to find some for free first!

There are actually more foods that what you realize that can be grown in 5 gallon buckets. When first starting out with using your buckets, before you do anything wash them to remove any residue (in my case, frosting). Once your buckets are cleaned you are going to want to drill drainage holes into the bottom of the buckets. All plants need to be able to drain excess water, otherwise you will run into problems like root rot. This is really easy to do, grab your drill and fit it with a large drill bit and add your holes. Something I learned last year was to add “lifts or feet” under your containers so water is able to drain better, mine I left level with the ground and had issues with draining.

Another thought for consideration is the color your buckets. White or light colored buckets will stay cooler and reflect light better, than dark colored. Your black, brown and blue buckets with absorb heat and would be better served for fall gardening. So white or light colored buckets to reflect light for summer gardening, black or dark colored buckets to absorb light and heat for fall gardening. Obviously location or placement of where you put your buckets also plays a role!

Why do you I like planting in 5 gallon buckets? Let me tell you, first they are big enough to support a variety of plants giving a good depth for root growth. They don’t take up a lot of room, if you are strapped for space 5 gallon buckets are narrow and can be place right next to each other - making them ideal for a balcony or small patio. They honestly gave me more room to try new things, Our garden space when we first started out was small. I had no idea what I was doing. The more my love for gardening and providing for ourselves grew, the more buckets I started to add. They were a good way for me to “try” new things without having to dedicate part of my already too small garden. They also gave me the ability to move my plants from one area to another, if one was not getting enough sun, too much sun, or bad weather was on the horizon.

Let's look at 15 of the most well-liked fruits and vegetables that can prosper when produced in 5 gallon buckets.

1. Aromatic Herbs - I’m putting this first becaue in most cases most of your veggies will benefit by having aromatics planted near by. Basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, cilantro, dill are all fantastic companion plants. I add fresh herbs to my salads all summer long. We eat more fresh basil then we ever eat dried. Our house is full of aromatics, in my opinion they are so underrated. We cook daily with with them, they are fantastic companions for your tomato, eggplant and pepper plants, and fabulous for your chickens and goats. Plant your Aromatics!!!
Herbs and AromaticsPhoto byYouTube

2. Tomatoes - When choosing your tomato keep in mind that if you plant a vining tomato you will need to add support. By providing adequate water and fertilizer (organic) every few weeks I found that I was able to grow most varieties, from paste tomatoes to heirlooms. We love tomatoes in this house and we make a lot of sauce in the fall and do a lot of canning. This really helped us to try lots of different types of heirlooms without using up a lot of precious garden space. I can say that the bush varieties did best for me. Only add one plant to each 5 gallon bucket and heavily mulch around your plant to help conserve water (and it helps to fertilize). Comfrey liquid plant food is said to increase your tomato harvest - not sure I’ve never used it, maybe I’ll give it a shot this year? If you have ever used it let me know in comments below.
TomatoesPhoto byPinterest

3. Peppers - Another great veggie to add to your buckets. They have roots that are shallow so they can do well in a container garden. If weather gets bad, its easy to move them inside out of the elements. Some dwarf variety’s can be grown by the 3’s in a 5 gallon bucket, but for most sweet and chilis’ a 5 gallon is acceptable per plant. Peppers enjoy high humidity so make sure to also give their leaves a bit of a misting when things are dry as well as spraying down any surfaces near by to help increase humidity levels.
PeppersPhoto byPinterest

4. Eggplants - 1 plant in a 5 gallon bucket. You will most likely need to provide some supports as your fruit starts to grow. If I have a choice I always opt for a dwarf variety, I just like the taste better and they seem to do better in containers. As a Reminder - Eggplant need good drainiage. So this means that ideally your eggplants will excel in 1 part sand to 2 parts potting soil and add some “feet” under your buckets.
EggplantsPhoto byPinterest

5. Zucchini - Zucchini or summer squash have root systems like eggplant. There are some great choices that will do well in containers, ideally compact dwarf varieties (like your eggplant). It’s really important to remember they are always hungry and thristy plants so routine watering and good drainage is a must. If you get the equation right of watering, feeding, draining and good light (at the very least 6 hours) you will have zucchini coming out your ears!

6.Cucumbers - Cucumbers especially the bush type do very well in containers. You can do the larger vine kind however you are going to have to add some supports (cage, trellis, something to climb on). As a general rule cukes do not transplant well, direct sow is the best way to achieve cucumber success, unless you plant in a biodegradable pot that can be buried in your container. What you don’t want to do is disturb the roots!

7. Leafy Greens - One of my all time favorites! We are a big salad family so I love going out to the garden and picking veggies for our lunch or dinner. Leafy greens are also great a place to begin if you are new to gardening. We like to grow all sorts of leafy greens, I always grab something new just to try it out, my favorite is arugula but I’m the only one in the house that likes it. As a reminder: your lettuces need a nitrogen rich food/fertilizer, especially over the summer.
Leafy GreensPhoto byPinterest

8. Kale - does well in a 5 gallon bucket. I like to use the buckets for kale so I can easily move them to the shade during the hotter weather to help prolong my harvest, since normally in the garden it gets whimpy and dies off once summer gets here. Kale is a brassicas which is also a nitrogen lover, so feed it good food rich in nitrogen. Also i recommend eating it when the leaves are smaller, they are more tender.
KalePhoto byPinterest

9. Scallions - Yes, yes and yes. Load em up! These are great for a novice gardener and do well in a 5 gallon bucket. They freeze well, you can add them to just about anything and they’re easy to grow. Give them water, food and some love and voila scallions out the wazoo!

10. Carrots - Carrots can be grown in a bucket thanks to the depth of the container. As a general rule compared to other veggies, carrot nutritional needs are not as demanding. Good light and good drainage are a must (throw some sand in your soil)

11. Potatoes - yes you can grow potatoes in a 5 gallon container. But there is a way in which you need to go about it for success. First only one potato plant per container (you can easily get 10 potatoes off of 1 plant). When you begin with potatoes - add your dirt/potting soil only/growing medium 1/3 full, place your seed potato eyes/chits towards the sky. Cover with 3 inches of your dirt/potting soil/ growing medium. Now wait till your plant pops through then add more growing medium around it. New tubers will be encouraged to grow out from the stem - brilliant right? Potatoes are thirsty devils so make sure to water frequently in the hot summer months.
PotatoesPhoto byPinterest

12. Peas - You want the dwarf/bush variety or else you run the risk of your container toppling over if not properly secured. Regardless you should make sure that there is some sort of apparatus for them to cling to for growing. As a reminder peas are nitrogen fixing plants so when your peas are done, cut them at the base and give that container or soil to a Nitrogen loving plant (leafy greens/brassicas).
PeasPhoto byPinterest

13. Strawberries - You can grow a decent amount of strawberries in a bucket. you may want to make holes (cut into the side) to create extra strawberry spaces (you can also do this with lettuce too!). Strawberries are thirsty ladies, so good drainage and well watered. I found that my strawberry plants did better in my containers because slugs were eating them all in the actual strawberry patch. Adding a rich in potassium food when your plants are flowering can help gain a higher yield (in other words save your banana peels).
StrawberriesPhoto byPinterest

14. Beans - Bush of course (1 plant per bucket), you really don’t want runners for containers unless you set your bucket beneath a support/trellis. Ample water is crucial especially when plant is flowering. Lots of people do some really creative displays with their beans. I’ve seen bean tepee’s made into kid friendly forts, arches made out of pvc pipes in walkways covered in beans, so thinks outside the box, you never know what crazy thing your imagination will spark!
BeansPhoto byPinterest

15. Blueberries - Did you know blueberries need acid or ericaceous soil (around 5.5 ph)? I like my blueberries in containers because of this - it’s much easier to prepare my soil in a container for a few bushes, then altering my soil in the garden.

16. Raspberries - Okay so this household eats raspberries like it’s their job, so I have a dedicated garden area for my raspberries. But you can plant raspberries in 5 gallon buckets. Ideally you need a dwarf variety. You can place one raspberry cane per pot and make sure you have ample support, tie new emerging canes as they appear. My personal choice is any variety without thorns... Reminder: Raspberries need lots of organic goodness / mulch to help retain water. To get the best results properly prune your raspberries.
RaspberriesPhoto byPinterest

As a general rule you really need to keep your eye on your containers no matter what you’ve planted in them. Containers dry out quicker than the ground and after all that hard work planting, you want to see and taste the fruits of your labor. Happy Gardening!

References Adapted By:

Waddington E.,(2020, August 20), Grow Food In 5 Gallon Buckets – 15 Fruits & Veggies That Thrive [Blog Post] Retrieved From

Comments / 2

Published by

Hello! Freelance blogger and videographer here! I love to refurbish furniture, show my creative side with cooking and crafts, and love to talk about my homestead and hobby farm. Follow me for flipping furniture inspiration and techniques, DIY craft projects, homestyle cooking with easy to follow recipes and some great gardening and animal husbandry tips!

Red Creek, NY

More from Ridley's Wreckage

Comments / 0