Basket of vegetables

With food prices rising so dramatically, it might be the time to consider growing some of your own vegetables in containers or buckets.  Even a small balcony or deck can give you a big harvest!  Many people do not have big yards or may be to frail to have traditional gardens, but that does not mean that they can’t have a salad garden in buckets right out their back door.

There are a few things to learn about growing plants in buckets or any other containers.  The containers must be cleaned first.  You want them to be free of any oils or detergents which could contaminate your veggies. After cleaning, you must make drainage holes in the bottom of the container.  If the water can not drain out, you are going to have rotting roots and mold.  The best way to make the holes is with a drill.  If you try to use a hammer and nail, the bottom of any plastic container will crack-and then you will lose too much dirt. Buckets are usually too large for the depth needed for what you are planting, so you should put something in the bottom to assist in drainage and let you use less soil.  I use small rocks and reuse any pottery I have by breaking it into small pieces.  I have known people who use plastic water bottles with success, and even Styrofoam packing chips!  The depth of your soil will depend on what you are going to plant.  Root crops like carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, etc. will need a much deeper layer of soil than Swiss chard, lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, etc.

Soil can be bought in bags from garden centers, and usually costs about $2.00 a bag for black earth.  So, when you are all set up with the container having drainage holes, something to aid drainage at the bottom, then you add your soil to within a few inches of the top of the container.  You then must gently pack down all the soil so that you will not have air pockets that will cause the roots to rot.  Your containers are now ready for planting!

If have bought started plants from a nursery, then you will have to harden them off before planting.  Plants grown and kept in a green house need to get used to being outdoors in small doses.  I put my young plants out each day for a few hours each day to get them used to the sun and the wind.  Once nights are going to stay above freezing, you are ready to plant!  If you are growing from seed and start indoors, you will have to harden off those plants as well.  If you are direct sowing into the garden you must wait until all danger of frost is past.  That can be the end of May here in Timiskaming Shores.

Once you have planted the seeds or young plants, you will have to water often until they have developed a good root system.  A big container like a large bucket will need a good watering once a week, and smaller containers more often.  If it is hot out the small containers may need to be watered daily.

What to grow?  You can grow anything in containers that you can grow in a garden plot, but sometimes it is better to start with a few easy to grow salad fixings if you are new to gardening.  A bucket or two of leaf lettuces, a bucket of cherry tomatoes, and one of green onions and radishes, and you have a salad on demand!

Of course, you can grow flowers in containers as well!  I am including a list of gardening books that will cover all the basics of planting and maintaining your garden.


Photo Gallery: Container Gardening will appear here on the public site.


As well as the benefit of inexpensive greens, you will also reap the benefits of fresh air and outdoor exercise.  Gardening can be a great way to release stress and help maintain a positive mental outlook!