Preparedness blog

Grow Your Own Portable Garden

By Lexi from Ready Store
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Growing your own food is useful for becoming more self reliant and saving money. It is also useful to grow your own food in case of an emergency. However, where you live might not always be conducive to growing food, especially if you live in urban areas where you don’t have much space outdoors. But not to worry, there are many solutions to choose from!

One of these solutions is bucket gardening. You can re-purpose 5 gallon food storage buckets into growing pots for certain plants. By planting in a bucket, your garden is portable and can be moved or transported if needed.

What You’ll Need

• 5 Gallon Buckets--you can use buckets that you use to store food, like easyprep buckets. Drill holes in the bottom of your buckets so water can drain.

• Gravel--fill the bottom of your buckets with a few inches of rocks or gravel to help with water drainage.

• Planting Soil/Peat Moss/Compost--after adding in gravel, fill the rest of the bucket with a mix of these three things.

• Seeds or Plants--now you’re ready to plant your seeds or place your plants. The list of foods below will tell you how many seeds to grow in each bucket depending on the food.

What to Grow

4 plants per 5 gallon bucket
Lettuce grows best in cool environments with plenty of water, but not too much that the roots are left soggy. Drainage is important when growing lettuce in a bucket. Harvest time for lettuce is when the leaves are young and tender.

10 plants per 5 gallon bucket
Carrots grow best in well drained, lightweight soil in cooler conditions. The ideal temperature is between 55°and 75° F. It is possible to grow carrots through the winter if kept indoors. Stick with varieties whose roots won’t outgrow the length of the bucket.

1 plant per 5 gallon bucket
When growing tomatoes, it is important that they get enough sun. Buckets can grow larger varieties of tomatoes, including both bush and vine varieties. If the variety is a vine variety, you will need to place a stake or a cage in the bucket to support the plant as it grows.

4 plants per 5 gallon bucket
Beets are a great food to grow because they are packed with vitamins and minerals. They also produce seedlings before sprouting that you can cut off and eat. Smaller varieties work best in buckets.

10 plants per 5 gallon bucket
Radishes are one of the fastest growing vegetables, especially when they are grown in a container. You can have food to eat as short of time as one month. Radishes grow in cooler autumn temperatures and produce smaller, sweeter vegetables in the spring. Seeds can be sown into the top of the soil. Harvest as soon as they are an edible size.

3 plants per 5 gallon bucket
There are two types of beans: bush beans and pole beans. Bush beans grow best in buckets and they produce food sooner than pole beans. They are a great source of protein and grow best in warmer weather with full sun.

1 plant per 5 gallon bucket
When planting cucumbers, the best results come from plant starts rather than seeds. You will need a male and female flower for pollination. Cucumbers grow in mild temperatures and will need a stake to climb up as it grows.

2 plants per 5 gallon bucket
Pepper plants need lots of light and lots of water. Plan on watering your pepper plant at least once a day. They like to grow in warmer temperatures, but need more water as the temperature increases. They can be harvested either at the green stage or later once they turn color.

1 plant per 5 gallon bucket
There are many varieties of squash that will grow in buckets, including acorn squash, zucchini, and smaller varieties of pumpkins. In order to grow squash in a bucket, it will need to grow vertically. Place a stake in the bucket to help support the weight of the fruit. Place the bucket where the plant will receive plenty of light.

Many plants per 5 gallon bucket
Growing potatoes is different from the plants previously mentioned. You will need to start with a seed potato. Cut the potato into chunks, making sure that the chunks have multiple eyes. Fill your bucket with a few inches of soil, place the chucks 5 inches apart, and cover with a few more inches of soil. As the plants grow, continue to cover with soil until you reach the top. Your entire bucket will be filled with potatoes! Water until the stems turn yellow, wait a week, and dig up your potatoes.

What are your ideas?
Comment below and tell us what you’ve grown in your portable garden. What do you think would be best to grow for an emergency?

9 years ago
9 years ago at 5:36 AM
When growing in buckets, add a second bucket underneath the top bucket to catch the water for reuse. This system is great for drought prone areas.
Northwoods Cheryl
9 years ago at 6:37 AM
I have grown most of my own produce for many years, in my outdoor garden. I have tried container gardening a few years. If trying to grow tomatoes in a bucket, I highly suggest you plant one that says it's for "Container gardening" or is called a "Patio Variety". Those do MUCH better in buckets than regular made-for-the-ground varieties. If you end up with white plastic buckets, it's a good idea to spray paint them a darker color. They will hold more heat that way, and things may grow faster. Over winter, if done inside the house, you will have to supplement with artificial light or plants will be spindly and not very productive. A sunny south facing window won't be enough. Be sure your buckets have drain holes in the bottom so roots can get some air and not "drown". I like David's idea to add the 2nd bucket underneath to catch water; besides saving water, it will keep your floors dry.
Northwoods Cheryl
9 years ago at 6:42 AM
Cucumbers are VERY easy to grow from seed. I have never bothered getting plants for those. But anyway, I also have not worried about getting a male and a female plant. When buying plants, it's impossible to tell them apart anyway. I have often just had 1 plant, and it did fine all by itself. It was allowed to sprawl without having anything to climb and did just fine.
9 years ago at 7:20 AM
I used to grow many shallow-rooted plants, such as peppers, in repurposed coffee cans. I would decorate them and line my driveway with the pretty cans. Of course, I had to pay more attention to watering needs, but it was at least a way I could garden a little where I lived.
9 years ago at 9:57 AM
I always saw bees flying form flower to flower in my garden outdoors. Isn't this needed to produce fruit?
Kathy H.
9 years ago at 5:58 AM
When I plant veggies in doors, even with the self pollinators, I use a pencil eraser to go from flower to flower to pollenaters. Works every time. You can actually see the pollen on the eraser.
8 years ago at 7:27 AM
Pollination has always been the key to growing veggies and any type of plants that produce. If you do not have Bees or some type of non destructive bug that will go from one flower to another then use the q-tip method.
8 years ago at 4:27 AM
A tiny paint brush can also be used for pollination. You can also try brushing the branches of one tomato plant against the tomato plant next to it.