Step 9: Prepare Lid for Planting

When you decide what type of plant to grow, you will want to plant the appropriate number of seedlings. The bucket can accommodate 2-3 plants per bucket. I have planted up to four tomato plants in one bucket! they all tend to do well as clustering like this actually bunches up the foliage and tends to protect the plant from overheating.

If we were growing bell peppers as an example, you could comfortably plant three in a bucket. How you arrange them is important. You will want to arrange them opposite to where you will lay your fertilizer.

I will be planting two Hot Pepper seedlings that I picked up from the nursery today... They have already started growing gigantic fruit - they are called 'Cowhorns' peppers.

Now you will need to cut an access into the lid to allow you to insert the roots and stem into the access hole then plant the seedling in the top of potting mix. If you have 3 seedlings then you either cut three separate holes along one side of the bucket or one long hole to accommodate the seedlings. I have come to prefer the single strip as shown below...

Use your utility knife to cut these holes.

Now remove the lid.
I'm a bit late to the party, but a good source for square buckets are cat owners. Tidy Cat scoopable litter comes in five gallon square pails.
Lime does great job at generally balancing the PH. A very important thing for people to note is that a neutral PH is vital. Adding chemical fertilizers like Miracle Grow or using Super Thrive as an additive will bring any neutral water into the red zone or very acidic. You can counter act this by getting and using a PH up solution from a garden store. Get a PH testing kit and adjust by experimenting / following directions. If your plants look stagnate and u wonder y; more than likely it's unbalanced PH.; which causes the roots unable to absorb nutrients. <br>Also chemical fertilizers build up salts over time, so rinse and or recondition soil when reusing. Organic is best, the science of soil has come a long way, micro-nutrients and Mycorizai add beneficial micro organisms to the soil that the roots love. Earthworms and earthworm casting are awesome. I recommend Diatomaceous earth (crushed coral) as a natural way to control mites, aphids, etc. and fly tape for white flies indoor. These pesky critters thrive indoors and multiply fast and will wipe out a crop fast. I like this bucket technique, and anything to encourage gardening for people that don't live in a normal farming environment. 1 more tip- plants love Carbon Dioxide, we love oxygen, anyway if you live in a cold area- using a propane or natural gas burner it creates Carbon Dioxide which will boost production, but only when the sun or lights are on. And it will have the added benefit of drying up over humid conditions and cutting back on mold. But don't asphyxiate yourself; not recommended where people hang in. Good luck. Flsandkrab
<p>this is amazing jake. I need to do this to all of my buckets... I was also thinking about a drip system made out of &quot;fish tank tubing&quot; and resting in each bucket. would also be automated of course. thank you for sharing !</p>
<p>This is great. Very well explained. I could buy some buckets but I want to do it your way, using food grade castoffs. </p>
<p>Hey, free is good but if you have a hard time finding them, if you can afford to purchase don't be afraid to invest in your garden!</p>
Your both right... <br> When adding lime to sand. The lime does not increase the volume of the final product so in the construction field based on VOLUME the denominator is still 4. 25% of the void left by sand contains lime. <br> However in the pure mathematics world solid objects are not thought to occupy the same space also by MASS Mr. Robinson is correct. <br> Lime is thought to fill all voids left by sand in 1:3 ratio, so if the final mix is one to one part lime and sand then Volume of the final product would be increased. But in this case 1:4 or greater say more common ratio 1:6 lime to sand there will be not enough lime to coat all the sand, so no change in volume. <br> As a former math teacher the construction trades use of ratios and percentages confused me until I realized this. Also slope and percent of grade have this same departure from pure math.
I like your design.&nbsp; I wonder if you might assist me with a few questions?<br /> <br /> Do you ever have a problem with your buried pvc irrigation pipes becoming clogged with soil? ( It would significantly add to the cost, but would filling your pipes with LECA stone be a benefit?)<br /> <br /> You use potting soil, and - from what little I have handled it - it seems to have properties that would assist in distributing the water - vertically -to the plants roots.&nbsp; If someone were to use a mixture of top soil and compost, do you think the water would properly reach the root system?<br />
My design is an offshoot ot the commercial version of &quot;Earthbox&quot;.&nbsp; The designer is adament about using certain components... however, i think a <strong>layer </strong>of LECA stone on top of the PVC - maybe a couple of inches then use potting soil... i'd spring for a big bag of it - it's worth it.. i use miracle grow brand as it is very light and fluffy... <br /> <br /> if you add regular soil it may compact too much - but i can't claim i have knowledge of this...<br /> <br /> an alternative is to go to a construction/household&nbsp;salvage store and get some window screens and cut out a swatch to lay over your PVC - this would certainly keep the mix from drifting below...&nbsp; <br /> <br /> I&nbsp;did not have a problem with any of my containers clogging... remember you will be 'feeding' the water down the tube and it will saturate the bottom area and leach upward... you will have some soil down in this area (i cleaned mine out from last year and found a bit but not enough to harm the operation)<br /> <br /> The biggest issue is having too many roots and not enough soil... if your container is smallish (like mine)&nbsp;the plant eventually fills the whole container with it's roots system and then may have a tendancy to starve for room to grow... <br /> <br /> I&nbsp;am purposely planting fewer plants per container as to make sure they get a full growing area...<br /> <br /> hope this helps, if not let's try again... cheers, jake
Just a thought but instead of window screens you could recycle the wifes( or female freinds/family members) nylon tights or stockings stretched over your PVC to stop soil drifting below into the water. <br>I have used Nylon tights before as wicks for self watering house plants.
good idea... i like it!
I think the American name for tights is Pantyhose ( :
I had the same suspicions about using regular soil.&nbsp; The increased compaction and less 'wick like' properties might clog the pipes and decrease water distribution.&nbsp; I'm gong to give it a try - though - and see what happens.<br /> <br /> I'm going to add the LECA stone inside the PVC&nbsp;to reduce the soils penetration.&nbsp; I like what you said about a layer, but if it is above your drain hole or reduces the waters contact with the soil - I'm afraid it might impede the travel of the water to the plant roots.<br /> <br /> I didn't think about relistate problems for the root growth.&nbsp; I'll definitely go one per bucket now.<br /> <br /> Thanks<br />
Wouldn't a lime:earth ratio of 1:4 mean the resulting volume would be 20% lime, not 25%?<br>1 unit of lime + 4 units of earth = 5 units total<br>1 unit lime / 5 units total = 20% lime by volume.
Maybe I am wrong... but 1 divided by four = .25 or 25%...
Just wondering if this could be done with plastic water bottles instead of PVC pipes. My wife is concerned with the plastic bottle having stuff leech into the soil. Are there worries like that with the PVC as well? Thanks!
well, some water bottles do have PTFE which leaches into the water... supposed to be bad... <br> <br>I don't think you'll have problems with PVC since most home's water lines are made of them... you can use about anything to 'lift' the soil up from the bottom as long as it allows for water to accumulate... hope this helps.. cheers,
Great instructable I am going to start this week end...
Hey thanks! <br> <br>planted my 3rd seasn about 3 weeks ago... started with 4&quot; tomatoe plants and now they are about 2.5' tall!
I just made these and so far so good- I do have one question...&nbsp; You said you water your plants twice a day!! I thought that having the &quot;water table&quot; would eliminate the need for everyday watering. I have to go out of town to town from time to time so I am worried about the watering.<br />
Hey Loley,<br /> this season I am watering once per day... play it by ear... just make sure the mix at the top is not drying out...<br /> <br /> if you need 'more' water in the watertable... you might want to move the hole a bit higher..<br /> <br /> just take some duct tape and cover the old hole and drill another one a bit higher... this will allow you to get enough water to restrict how often you have to water your plants...<br /> <br /> if you will be leaving town you could do this... fill up tube until water comes out... then start watering at the top - if you water it enough the water will soak the entire system until water again starts flowing out the bottom hole...<br /> <br /> if you're leaving town - then you would have the 'most' possible water for your plants.. or show one of you neighbors how to water and ask them to come be and water once per day... cheers, hope this helps
I tried a couple of DIY versions last season.&nbsp; They worked, but I like yours much better!&nbsp; Yours is easier &amp; cheaper to build also. <br /> <br /> One feature of the commercial Earthbox is an overflow drain in the side of the box, just above the water storage area.&nbsp; Did you have any problems with someone getting over-enthusiastic with watering?&nbsp; I used a 3 inch piece of soft vinyl tubing, which fits snugly in a half inch hole drilled in the bucket.<br />
Hey Roger408 - thanks for the kinds words...<br /> <br /> I drilled a 1/2&quot; hole just at the top of the water area in all my containers so it will not let it overwater just like the earthbox... so no problems over watering... i didn't insert any tube into the drain hole... it worked fine without it.. worst case just ram a screwdriver in a few times if it drains a bit slow...<br /> <br /> hope this helps... let me know how yours turns out...<br /> <br /> cheers,
i should have been a bit more clear about the drain hole... it is referenced in step 10 at a callout on the photo of the cutaway... should have taken a pic of it as well... thanks for pointing this out - maybe others will realize it should have been illustrated... cheers
Love this idea, as I can't stand to weed. YUK! But what I wondered is if some wiffle balls would work in place of the pvc pieces at the bottom of the bucket? I have several from a old halloween project, was thinking that all I need is something plastic with perforations. Think that would work?<br />
wow, wiffle balls would be great... the only thing is make sure they are tight&nbsp;in the bottom... the idea is to hold the soil up above but allow the water to seep up into the soil... using PVC with holes drilled has the same effect as your wiffle balls... go for it!
This is an absolutely excellent idea.&nbsp; I love it because it is something I, with my extremely limited technical skills, can actually do.<br /> <br /> Now, if only I knew how to prune tomato plants!&nbsp; <br /> <br /> Thanks.
Ok, thanks for the kind words... <br /> <br /> and, here's how to 'prune' tomato plants...<br /> <br /> look for what are called 'suckers'<br /> <br /> anytime you see a 'branch' limb off another limb - look for anything growing straight out of the 'V' that is formed... it will be a very small new growth..<br /> <br /> just pinch it out with your fingers at the base of the vee... these 'suckers' will not produce and only suck off the growth of the rest of the plant...<br /> <br /> so, anywhere you see a vee -look for a new 'green shoot' and pinch it off (pinch hard as if you just pull it - it could split the 'skin' of the limb down below the vee and injure the plant... <br /> <br /> as to whether you should always pick a sucker read this article and notice the pic which shows what a 'sucker' looks like;<br /> <a href="http://gardening.about.com/od/totallytomatoes/qt/Tomato_Suckers.htm" rel="nofollow">http://gardening.about.com/od/totallytomatoes/qt/Tomato_Suckers.htm</a>
Looks great, a side view graphic/scheme would be, I think, most explicit... would it be possible?
Did you check out the add'l photos on step 10? (laying fertilizer) i did actually do a real cutaway version where i cut the side open so you can see the soil, water tube and substrate made of larger PVC... Is this what you are asking? if not, maybe you could rephrase your request... thanks for viiewing and taking the time to comment... cheers,
OK, I have updated and added photos for the intro... please publish now - thanks!

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