20 July 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow, Cont'd

Early in the spring, the husby got the itch to grow veggies, but living in a residence hall, we don't quite have the space for a garden. We got approved for a bit of space near the side of the hall, and Kyle found a genius solution... a bucket garden!

Here are the baby plants all lined up.

Here they are a bit bigger (with the happy gardener).

And look! Veggies!!

Interested in making your own self-watering double-bucket planters?

Below is the tutorial Kyle followed.
(for pictures, click on the link)

step 1
Gather your materials
If you already own most of the cutting tools and the drill, this instructable costs about $13-15. We got everything at Home Depot, but you can find similar stuff at any hardware store. Materials pictured: 2 big paint buckets that stack (~5 gallons each) 1 lid 1 plastic tub OR drain grate (The height of the tub/drain grate should be approximately the same height as the…

step 2
Mark the buckets
1) Hole for wicking basket On the bottom of the first bucket, trace your drain grate or plastic tub and mark a circle on the bottom of the first bucket. Be sure your circle is smaller than the lip of the container. 2) Hole for pipe Next, mark a hole for the pipe, also 1/2" from the wall of the bucket 3) Side drainage holes On the side of the second bucket (not th…

step 3
Cut the holes in the buckets
Cutting plastic kicks up a lot of little plastic dusty bits. Protect your eyes and nose and mouth accordingly. For the big holes on the first bucket and the lid, start them with a drill, using a 1" masonry bit. Use the utility knife to widen the holes. Cut drainage holes in the bottom of your first bucket, using a 1/4" diameter drill bit. Next, cut the side drain…

step 4
Prepare the pipe
Cut an angled segment from the bottom of the pipe, using your hacksaw. The reason you're doing this is so that water can flow out of the pipe when it's at the bottom of the buckets.

step 5
Assemble the wicking basket
Either line the drain grate with mesh, or cut holes in your solid plastic container. We found these as a three pack at the dollar store. You could also use food containers, etc., as long as there is enough of a lip and they are the right height. Even though it's significantly more expensive, I highly recommend the drain grate option. They both seem to be performing equ…

step 6
Assemble the bucket!
Place the assembled wicking basket in the bottom of the bucket. Push the pipe through the holes in the lid and the bottom of the inner bucket Stack two buckets, with the basket hanging between the two. Now you're ready to plant!

step 7
Use your favorite potting mix, compost, plants, seedlings, etc., and put it all together! This part is really up to you, but I would encourage you to soak the wicking basket first, and only use a small amount of fertilizer. The bucket recycles it, so you probably won't need to add fertilizer again for a very long time. If you cut smaller holes in the lid, gently thread…
Here's a simple to follow (although a bit boring) video that shows the steps. 

Our bucket garden hasn't been without it's challenges, though. We've been battling blossom-end rot, which " may result from low calcium levels or high amounts of competitive cations in the soil, drought stress, or excessive soil moisture fluctuations which reduce uptake and movement of calcium into the plant, or rapid vegetative growth due to excessive nitrogen fertilization" (source). To beat the rot, Kyle has been spraying on liquid calcium. We are crossing our fingers and hoping it works. We also lost a plant early on to yellow leaf curl; "As the leaves develop, they appear distorted and fold their tips backwards. Diseased leaves are usually thicker and softer than the normal, unharmed leaves. The colors of the leaves are also unique. Instead of the normal green spring leaves, the colors turn yellow, followed by purple, until finally a whitish bloom covers each leaf" (source). In order to prevent spreading, we had to let it go. Wow, who knew you'd learn so much!

All in all we're very pleased with how our garden is shaping up. I think it's making the whole "living in a residence hall" thing a little easier on Kyle, too.

So, how does your garden grow?
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  1. Oh my word, I would have LOVED this when I lived in my townhouse! Look how neat and compact!

  2. Great idea! Particularly for those of us who have no space - thanks!

  3. Wow, I'm quite impressed at how the bucket garden is coming along! Nice!

    I just checked out your 90 days of Kindness challenge, it sounds awesome! :)

  4. Genius! And it looks like they're going to produce plenty of vegetables~well done!

  5. This is such a good idea for those of us still in an apartment! We have a tiny yard but don't have the option to plant a garden. I wish I would have thought about this earlier. I starred this for next summer, assuming we're still in our townhouse! =]

  6. Wow! I have bookmarked this for a try for next year...we did a garden last year, didn't do well at all (too far to water). This year, I was laid off and working on my new blog: http://unintentionallyunemployed.blogspot.com Please come by and say hello!

  7. Excellent tutorial, Laura! I have totally bookmarked this one.

  8. What a great use of space, great idea!

  9. really intersting...I am saving this idea...well done!

  10. CUTE!! I love your blog, so adorable! I'm a follower now! I want to feature this in my Garden Post!! Stop by Sassy Sites and say hi! ;)

  11. This is way too cool! What a great way to conserve water. Thanks for sharing ... I've posted a link. Stop by and say "hi," maybe add a few links of your own!

  12. Very interesting gardening concept! I only wish my I had a green thumb. Found you at Frugal & Fabulous. Thanks for sharing. Happy Friday! :o)

  13. What a great use of space, time and money.

    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Fun idea. We did potatoes in a 35 gallon bag this year and you keep adding the dirt each time the plants grow. It is supposed to keep sending out potatoes as you add so that you can get 50 lbs out of a batch. Can't wait to see.

  15. WoW! This is a really neat idea! Thanks so much for sharing. I am your newest follower. Have a great weekend!
    Bonnie :)

  16. Seriously what a good idea. I'm in a condo with no yard space to use for a garden. I could probably get approved for a bucket garden in the parking lot (probably by the trash container .. but hey). I'm bookmarking for next gardening season!

    I’m having a new link party “Cheap Thrills Thursday” starting the 29th. It’s for creative ideas that cost under $20. I’d love for you to stop by and join in!

  17. How very interesting!! Thank you so much for sharing this with us at Anything Related!

  18. I've been doing a bucket garden for three years. I got my bucket for free from restaurants and bakeries, and gathered rocks from the desert. I drilled holes on the sides of the buckets by the bottom, placed stones in the bottom. Just add soil and seeds, or plants. This has been working great for me, and it's really cheap.


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