2009 - Volume #33, Issue #2, Page #42[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Bucket Garden Provides Portable Food
"We went over there to advise them on improving their soils and using moveable chicken coops, but the people were so poor and hungry that anything that got left out or planted was stolen," says Burleson. "When I came home, I started trying to grow things in a bucket. That way they could bring their plants inside with them at night."
Before long he was growing 8-lb. cabbages in 4 to 5 in. of soil in a bucket. The Montana gardener realized that being able to bring garden buckets inside at night lengthened his own growing season. It also let him take his garden on the road this winter when he and his wife traveled to California.
"I use 2 to 3-gal. buckets because they aren't that heavy with the soil in them," says Burleson. "At home, I put a bunch of them in a trailer and wheel them inside at night."
Burleson nests one bucket inside another. The bottom bucket serves as a reservoir and keeps the soil from being over watered. It has a hole about 2 in. from the bottom for overflow. The top bucket has many holes drilled in the bottom. A center hole is large enough to hold an 8-oz. Styrofoam cup or similar container, with slits cut in the side.
To prepare the pail for planting, he inserts the Styrofoam cup in the center hole. He then fills the nested bucket with a planting mixture containing equal measures of peat moss, compost and vermiculite. The planting mixture in the center cup acts as a wick to draw moisture up into the rooting area. He has also used pumice rock in the center to wick the moisture out of the reservoir.
"Just add water, plants or seed and watch it grow," says Burleson. "A single 3-gal. bucket can hold 50 carrot seedlings. As they grow, you thin them and eat them so the ones that are left keep getting bigger."
Burleson says he has planted lettuce, potatoes and even pumpkins in buckets. In the spring, his buckets warm up before the ground plots do. He suggests setting a stepladder against the side of a house and set a bucket on each step for a wall garden.
"Anything you can plant in the ground can be planted in a bucket," he says. "Just move it inside to protect against hail, frost or pests that damage gardens at night."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Wayne Burleson, 332 N. Stillwater Rd., Absarokee, Mont. 59001 (ph 406 328-6808; rutbuster @montana.net; www.pasturemanagement. com).
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