If you have no space for even a small grow box garden and you really want to grow something, make a small investment and try a bucket garden.
I’ve written about container gardens growing kitchen necessities as chive, chadon beni, and various herbs. Recently two friends asked me if I could give them a garden in buckets as the soil near their homes was rocky and nothing seemed to grow. I’ve had success with all potted plants and especially using one and five-gallon buckets.
One-gallon buckets are great for single plants. I use pails from glazing putty that either come in white or black plastic. I drill a few one-inch drain holes and pack the bottom with shredded coconut to hold in the plant growing medium such as potting mix. These drain holes can also be covered with newspaper that will eventually dissolve. By that time the soil will be compact enough to keep from draining out the holes. The shredded coconut is bit better for me as it lasts longer as a barrier. It is important that all potted plants, whether in clay or plastic buckets, drain properly and do not become waterlogged adequately.
I plant all types of peppers and tomatoes in one-gallon buckets, hot scotch bonnet, sweet bull nose, and spicy pimento. These plants will make excellent gifts. Each one-gallon bucket will usually support only one plant. Since the buckets I use are black they absorb the heat of the sun and need water at least twice a day.
Everything you need to start a basic bucket garden of ten buckets is a small amount of limestone — maybe two cups, about a gallon bucket of well-rotted chicken manure, a bale of potting soil, a drill to make the drain holes and a tub to mix all the ingredients. And some dried coconuts that you can shred the husk. Of course you will need some plants from your local nursery. It all takes about an hour to have your garden soil mixed, soaked with water and then plant the seedlings.
If you have access to five-gallon ‘pigtail’ buckets so much the better. They permit more root room and plants extremely produce. We had about 20 papayas trees planted in traditional soil among a plantain bed. Due to the weather only one has survived. Both that we planted in five-gallon buckets are in blossom and starting to bear. In buckets you can better control the wetness. Papaya doesn’t like being constantly damp. However you must cut a sizeable hole in the centre of the bottom of the five-gallon bucket to accept the papaya’s long tap root which will eventually extend into the soil. Decide where you want your trees and don’t try to move them later. Break the tap root and the tree will die.
The best bucket garden I have ever seen was sent to me by a reader of my book from Dominica. Vanessa Provost e-mailed me photos of how she incorporated her bucket garden on to her roof in Roseau. Her work was perspiration, inspiration and dedication. Imagine carrying all the necessary materials up the steps but she has no garden bandits to worry about stealing her hard work.
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but appetite is the inventor of the creative garden. There are so many ways you can grow at least some of your own food if you would take a little time and effort. Nothing is as satisfying as picking your own peppers or lettuce for dinner. Get going, and just grow something.