10 Vegetables To Grow in Buckets, Bags, and Baskets

Four big blue buckets, with a tiny plant growing in each

Tomatoes make an ideal container plant when grown in five-gallon buckets

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From 5-Gallon Buckets to Trash Cans, Grow Crops in Pots!

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If you don’t have enough garden space, you can always create more by growing crops in pots! For example, tomatoes make an ideal container plant when grown in five-gallon buckets. Here are some ideas, plus our list of the best vegetables to grow in buckets, bags, and baskets.

After I have planted every square inch of my garden I always find that there is something I have forgotten. Wait a minute where are the potatoes going? How did I manage to leave out chard? No room for kale? Can’t I squeeze in one more eggplant? I only have so many large pots to grow my extra veggies in and they fill up fast.

Anything that holds soil can be used to grow extra veggies. Just make sure that it has holes in the bottom for drainage. Nothing kills more plants than overwatering.

Growing in containers now not only saves space but also, because they are portable, you can move the plants into more sunlight or shade or even move inside in terrible weather, such as hail or freeze. In addition, growing in buckets or pots means less weeding and less pests since you’re off the ground!

What to Grow in Five-Gallon Buckets

If you have five-gallon buckets from the hardware store, they make great planters for larger vegetables such as tomatoes or pole beans. Just drill holes in the bottom.

San Marzano tomato bucket brigade. Credit: Ron99/Shutterstock

And make sure that you don’t overplant! Here are tips on how many plants to grow in each bucket.

  1. Tomatoes
    Container: 1 plant per 5-gallon pot
    Varieties: ‘Early Girl,’ ‘Patio,’ ‘Small Fry,’ ‘Sweet 100’, ‘Tiny Tim’
  2. Beans, snap
    Container: 5-gallon window box
    Varieties: Bush ‘Blue Lake,’ Bush ‘Romano,’ ‘Tender Crop’

  3. Broccoli
    Container: 1 plant per 5-gallon pot, 3 plants per 15-gallon tub
    Varieties: ‘DeCicco,’ ‘Green Comet’

  4. Carrots
    Container: 5-gallon window box at least 12 inches deep
    Varieties: ‘Danvers Half Long,’ ‘Short ‘n Sweet,’ ‘Tiny Sweet.’

  5. Cucumbers
    Container: 1 plant per 1-gallon pot
    Varieties: ‘Patio Pik,’ ‘Pot Luck,’ ‘Spacemaster’

  6. Eggplant
    Container: 1 plant per 5-gallon pot
    Varieties: ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Ichiban’, ‘Slim Jim’

  7. Lettuce
    Container: 5-gallon window box
    Varieties: ‘Ruby’, ‘Salad Bowl’

  8. Onions
    Container: 5-gallon window box
    Varieties: ‘White Sweet Spanish’, ‘Yellow Sweet Spanish’

  9. Peppers
    Container: 1 plant per 3-gallon pot, 5 plants per 15-gallon tub
    Varieties: ‘Cayenne,’ ‘Long Red,’ ‘Sweet Banana,’ ‘Wonder,’ ‘Yolo’
  10. Radishes
    Container: 5-gallon window box
    Varieties: ‘Cherry Belle,’ ‘Icicle’

Planting In Bags

After you run out of buckets, you can grow some shallowly rooted veggies in bags of potting soil. Yes, right in the bag! Just lay the bag flat, pop a few holes in it for drainage, turn it over and cut X-shaped planting holes in the top.

Plant it with pepper, lettuce, eggplant, squash, or cucumber transplants rather than using seeds.

Fabric grow pots are great if you don’t have room to store pots over the winter. They’re great for growing potatoes. Fill with compost and potting mix, 3 plants to a grow bag. Just empty out the soil when the season is over and fold them up, ready for next year.

See my article about growing in grow bags!

Growing potatoes in grow bags. Credit: Stephen Farhall/Shutterstock

Trash Can Gardening

You can also grow potatoes in trash cans or even giant trash bags. A single potted potato can produce a surprising number of tubers!  The trash can should be 2 to 3 feet tall with a 10 to 15-gallon capacity, and you’ll need to drill drainage holes in the bottom.

Here’s a humorous video of our Almanac editor growing a trash can potato garden!

Window Boxes

There is no law saying that only flowers can be grown in window boxes. Many vegetables such as frilly colored lettuces and rainbow chard look decorative and are edible too.

Pepper plants, both hot and sweet, look quite festive when covered with ripe peppers. My favorites are the eggplants, some of which have dark purple stems and purple veining on their velvety leaves. The fruits are pretty as well as tasty, maturing to dark purple, neon pink, lilac, bright green, and white depending on the variety. Some are even striped!

Hanging Baskets

Hanging baskets work well for strawberries or lettuce, or pot up your favorite herbs to hang near the kitchen door. See how to grow vegetables and fruit in hanging baskets.

Pallet Garden

I love to upcycle things that most people consider trash into useful garden objects. Wooden pallets are usually available for free at large businesses or at your town transfer station. Just make sure that the ones you choose for growing edibles are not treated with harmful chemicals.

Staple landscape fabric to the back. You can also nail on a thin sheet of plywood just in case you need to reinforce the back. Flip it over and add lightweight potting soil. Plants can be tucked in between the slats of wood. Give them a few days to settle in, then carefully stand the pallet on edge against a wall, fence or other sturdy support.

There are many sites online for more in-depth instruction on making a pallet garden. If you have room you can use pallets horizontally to build raised beds or even a new compost bin. See how to build a raised bed and also how to make a compost bin from pallets.

Don’t let a lack of space keep you from growing more of the things you love. Here’s another idea: Grow up! Learn how to make a vertical garden.

About The Author

Robin Sweetser

Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. Read More from Robin Sweetser

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