New Ebucket thread (we continue) PART III

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

This thread is a continuation of PART II. We're interested in hearing about disappointing experiences with the system and/or ideas for improvements or modifications, so we can attempt to do better. Let's build a better eBucket!

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1139703/#new PART I
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1056426/ PART II
is getting so long we need to start over again.

Let's post new comments here.

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Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

I continue to watch and learn. :)

Washington, DC(Zone 7a)

Well I took some updated shots of mine today, so I'll be happy to post. Some are re-used buckets from last year of the same design, and some are new. It is worth nothing that in the old ones, I did not provide protection during the winter months because I was trying in vain to do some fall gardening, and so I have revamped the potting mixture inside each of them. Dumping out large root masses, and mixing in 50/50 compost and miracle grow potting mix (WITHOUT moisture control). First up, this is what they look like in spring after being out all winter, and why I remixed everything. All colanders and pipes came out in one dried up bundle.

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Washington, DC(Zone 7a)

And here are those re-vamped containers with peppers, summer squash, and cukes going strong.

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Washington, DC(Zone 7a)

Here are tomatoes in new buckets looking great so far this year. I started the seeds for these in March, so I'm understandably super excited that these are doing so great! A side note though, because of the nature of tomatoes, I did extra fertilizing when I planted these. I used an old "recipe" told to me by my gardening friend who says she got it out of the Washington Post years ago. 4 tbsp garden lime, 2 tbsp epsom salt and 2 tbsp Osmocote slow-release fertilizer per plant. I thought I would try it because her tomatoes are always the biggest, and it seems to be working for her. Also because I can just reuse the same buckets for tomatoes next year and I don't have to worry about planting the wrong thing in the wrong spot.

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Washington, DC(Zone 7a)

Here's a shot of the whole thing, veggie table and all. I love my ebuckets!

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Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Kindle-tell me about how you've worked the larger plastic tubs that look like rubbermaid containers.

I am gathering materials for my first container/vegetable/vertical garden in the sunny concrete driveway.

I also have to take a look at your previous post regarding the vegetable table.

Thanks. :)

A.

Washington, DC(Zone 7a)

Amanda - My rubbermaids are also self-watering like the ebuckets, but use those square storage baskets that have holes on the sides instead of colanders. I got most of the instructions here: http://www.josho.com/gardening.htm but modified them slightly. I don't use two bins, I use the storage baskets instead.

I've found that I like the ones I have, but they are heavy when full and hard to move to refill, etc. So I won't be building any more. Instead, the 5 gallon ebuckets are not too heavy for me even when full of water and plants, and they are MUCH quicker to make. I estimate it only takes me about 10 minutes to make 1 or 2 now. That includes drilling the overflow hole, cutting the pipe, and trimming the colander if needed.

My post on the veggie table is also at http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1175894/

Clifton, VA(Zone 7a)

Lookin' good Kindlekat! I'm curious, where did you got the green 5-gallon buckets from?

Also, what varieties of tomatoes have you planted in the eBuckets this year? I planted mostly determinates in mine (Mega Bite, Patio Princess), but I did plant one indeterminate (Black Prince) and it's already grown taller than the tomato cage. I'm going to have to attach another cage (upside down) on top, but it will be quite tippy being that tall and narrow. That's one reason I like the Rubbermaid type containers (especially EarthTainers) for large indeterminate tomatoes. Since they are so heavy, they can handle a tall cage without tipping over. Plus, with extra soil capacity, the roots have more room, and the tomatoes seem to grow larger than they would in a 5-gallon bucket.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

I've read the ebox .pdf file about how many plants they recommend for each box, but what about 5 gal buckets?

I assume only 1 tomato from experience, but what about -

eggplants
acorn squash
slicing cucumbers
peppers
bush beans
Waltham butternut
sweet baby watermelon

I'm going vertical with everything this year because of the varmints in the yard. Someone gave me some extra plants and i was wondering if I could consolidate some of the vining things...

A.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

From my experience with eBuckets, I have had success planting the following per
5-gallon eBucket:

eggplants (1)
acorn squash (1)
slicing cucumbers
peppers (2)
bush beans
Waltham butternut
sweet baby watermelon

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Linda - lost me - stuff without the number after (i.e. below peppers (2)) you planted 2 in each (i.e. beans, butternut, watermelon?)?

Sorry - don't mean to be dense. :D

A.

ps. does that mean you don't have experience with them?

This message was edited Jun 14, 2011 1:20 PM

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Yes, the ones without numbers means I have no experience growing them...

Washington, DC(Zone 7a)

VitaVeggieMan - I actually was in Walmart where I used to get my plain white 5 gallons since they had the cheapest prices. Now it seems Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart all have them at $2.50 . They didn't have any white ones when I went, only colors, so out of desperation I grabbed green. I would have gotten red if they had had them, but I'm not a fan of pink or purple buckets for my garden, I think my neighbors REALLY wouldn't understand then!

I'm growing both indeterminate and determinate tomatoes this year. I got most of my seeds from a swap back before I thought to pick only determinate, only bought the one kind of determinate - Better Bush. The others are Ozark Pink, Good Neighbor, and Best Boy. So far the bush variety (I have two buckets of them) are looking great. Dense and compact growth habit, just like the package says! I'm glad I'm growing both this year, to see which is more successful in my area, and for fun. It was also easy to put basil and chives in the bucket next to the bushier ones, for some companion planting. I'll be interested to see whether or not mine can get as big as yours and risk toppling over! I'm also interested to see whether the bush variety will produce as much fruit as the others. If so, I can see myself switching to just determinates for next year.

Clifton, VA(Zone 7a)

Kindlekat, I like the green buckets. My local Walmart has buckets in weird colors, like turquoise, pink, and yellow, but I've never seen the green ones.

So, if you put basil and chives in the bucket with the tomatoes, that probably means you're not using a cover (like the Earthbox), right? Did you mix your fertilizer into the planting mix? I've got "shower caps" (literally) on all my eBuckets, and used a ring of fertilizer around the top edge of the bucket. It seems to be working well so far (for the tomatoes), but I wish I had planted some the other way for a comparison test. For some reason, most of my peppers in eBuckets are NOT doing very well this year. I think I may have overdone the fertilizer - I mixed a 1/2 cup of Super Triple Phosphate into each bucket, and later found it should have been more like a tablespoon! (oops)

Yesterday, I added another tomato cage on top of the first one (on right in picture, yellow cages) in my 6-gallon eBucket with an indeterminate tomato (Black Prince). It's very tall and probably top heavy, but it held up to a big rainstorm that came through last night. I'll probably tie the cages to the bucket with some rope or bungee cords, and lash the whole thing to the deck.

Thumbnail by VitaVeggieMan
Clifton, VA(Zone 7a)

Amanda,

I'm with you on growing more things vertically! I haven't grown most of the things you listed in eBuckets (yet), but I think you should stick to one plant per bucket for most of them, except for peppers and bush beans. I have one bucket with three sweet peppers this year as a trial, and so far it's doing well (see picture). I haven't done bush beans in a bucket yet, but based on my experience growing them in an Earthbox, I would say you could fit 4 bean plants per bucket. If you plant pole beans in an eBucket, I think you can go up to 6 or 8, using a Maypole-type trellis. I planted six, and they're doing well so far.

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Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Quoting:
I mixed a 1/2 cup of Super Triple Phosphate into each bucket, and later found it should have been more like a tablespoon!


This reminded me of the time I put three tablespoons of super triple phosphate into my African Violet soil recipe instead of 3 teaspoons! Needless to say, the plants died!

Washington, DC(Zone 7a)

VitaVeggieMan - You're right, I don't use a cover. I thought about it last year (my first year with ebuckets) but never got around to it. Same this year. I can see the benefits, but never really found I needed them. I do mix some of the Espoma regular fertilizer in with the potting soil and compost when I'm making my mix. Then, I fertilize as needed in different ways for my different plants. I don't do the ring of fertilizer.

Your tomatoes look AWESOME! I love the variety you have, looks like you'll be getting a great harvest soon. We had a storm blow through last night and filled my rain barrels, so everything is happy with water, but a little droopy.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Thanks VeggiMan. Still putting together materials. And starting stuff from seed. :D

I have some old garden hose we cut off this spring to make a repair where it had sprung a leak. What do you all think about using that instead of PVC? I do have a lot of bamboo, but it would be great to find something useful to do with this length of hose.

Have a great day!

A.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

VVM,
Glad to see you went with the "shower cap" tip, and, more imporantly, that it works!

Clifton, VA(Zone 7a)

Quote from Kindlekat :
Your tomatoes look AWESOME! I love the variety you have, looks like you'll be getting a great harvest soon. We had a storm blow through last night and filled my rain barrels, so everything is happy with water, but a little droopy.


Thanks Kindlekat! They look healthy so far, and I haven't had to spray them with anything yet. They are starting to put on fruit, so I've got my fingers crossed that I'll get a lot of tomatoes this year.

We had the same storm as you last night and it made a mess in all of my planters without covers, but at least I didn't lose any more plants!

I just built a rain barrel, but I haven't hooked it up yet. I'm planning to rig up an automated watering system to the rain barrel using the siphon method described over on the Global Bucket website. Unfortunately, I won't get that done before our vacation in a few weeks, so I'm counting on my teenage daughter for daily watering while I'm gone. Anybody want to take bets on how many plants are dead when I come home?

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Line your eBuckets up (if possible) and run a drip hose across them. Turn it on to real sloooooooooow drip.

The plants should be healthier than when you left them, withOUT the DD's help.....

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

I found this thread and am glad to read that folks are still interested and using ebuckets to grow plants in! I love mine!

I want to make a suggestion ... for those of you looking for buckets ... you might very well be able to get them for FREE from any local fast food restaurants. Pickles come in the 5 gallon buckets that McD, Wendy's, BK, etc. use. And often the buckets are white which is perfect for me as I live in the south and needed something to reflect the heat away from the roots. If you need darker buckets, you could wrap a black trash bag around the outside of the bucket with a hole for the drain hole. Re-using them would help keep these large buckets out of the landfills. They will deteriorate in time, but for free, who cares?!!!

I am still doing the double-bucket method instead of 1 bucket with a colander. Because it is so hot here, I like the 1 gallon reserve in the exterior bucket. I don't have to water as often. But I also really want to try a drip system. Many of my plants are grown in them because I have horrible soil here that is infested with knot-root nematodes which kill any new plants in the ground.

Here are 3 eggplants (only grow 1 per bucket as they get quite large and mine are pretty crowded - live and learn!). It's hard to see in the photo but it has quite a few black beauty eggplant veggies growing on it! The fence is 6' tall. So the plants get quite large! I have 3 stakes tied at the top to form a tee-pee shape shoved down inside the bucket soil to stabilize the plants from heavy winds. I am very happy with my buckets. This is my second year of using them! :-) All my buckets are free, so I'm helping the environment and growing happy plants at the same time!

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Oops! Forgot to attached the photo. LOL!

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(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

The biggest issue for me is how to make all these white buckets aesthetically pleasing. What I have been doing is actually placing them in my garden area. I have been trying to hide the buckets behind more appealing containers of plants or behind in-ground plants. At one point I thought of painting the buckets, but have decided against that idea because I prefer the white color. Trying to hide them behind plants or other containers seems my best option currently. I just need more attractive containers to place in front of them. Would love to hear other's ideas!

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(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Here is a line of them growing in my west garden bed along the fence. There are various veggies, fruits, and flowering plants in all these buckets. I grow bearded and non-bearded irises, plumeria, brugs, various vining plants (which include clematis, morning glories, and passiflora), and all kinds of other flowering plants.

Thumbnail by beckygardener
SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Because your fence is white, the buckets actually look quite nice with the greenery in them.

Although, I can see bands of color wrapped around them in stripes, maybe, or geometric blocks of color, perhaps. Tape would do for the stripes - painting them?

Or, do the stripes in only one color?

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Nice suggestion about the stripes. A lot of buckets to paint though if I did that. LOL! I am not motivated to get out in this heat and do that this year. I do like the solid white. I just think the buckets look like ... well ... BUCKETS!!! LOL! Not planters or containers, but buckets! LOL! If they looked more like white plant pots, I don't think the look would bother me at all.

In all honesty, if my yard soil was good soil, I'd be growing everything in the ground instead of containers. I'd much rather have a natural looking cottage garden appearance. But at least I can grow plants in my yard using the buckets and other containers. Otherwise my yard would be barren of plants.

The main thing I like about the buckets is that I can move them. I can move the plants around and I often do. Change the grouping of plants by color or foliage or sun or shade needs. I love that advantage. Probably why my plants do so well in the e-buckets. And the buckets are lighter and easier to pick up. My back thanks me for that! lol

So ... there are some things I like about the buckets and some things I don't. The end result is what really counts though ... and my plants win hands down! :-) Lots of happy and healthy plants are growing in all my buckets! What more could a gardener ask for! ♥

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

You know an idea that just popped in my head that might look cute ...

The wide wired ribbon that you can get at Christmas time would look really cute wrapped around each bucket and then make big bows at the front of the buckets to look like gifts! Maybe use different colored ribbon to match the plant blooms? Wouldn't that look rather whimsical? I think that would look really nice! I know the ribbon would fade, but probably last during the growing season. I'm going to have to try to locate some of that ribbon at Wally world. I used to see it go on sale after Christmas. May have to grab a bunch after the holidays this year. :-)

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

So about the tee-pees....

I have collected all my stuff, and I am going gung-ho tomorrow (even with the brace on my wrist).

I am thinking if I do the tee-pees that they weight of the plant will eventualy pull it down and make it sturdy against the ground as it grows larger. I do not intend to put the stakes into the buckets for this to occur. I will not have earth to secure them to as my container jungle is going in the sunny concrete driveway.

Any thoughts on how to make the tee-pee sturdier? I was thinking about an arbor, but wondering if that would block too much sun for the plants?

Thanks for any ideas.

A.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Uh, I think you need to be about that wrist healing before you start tackling teepees!

Just when you're least expecting it, something will cause you to bump the booboo, and you'll suffer a setback.

Just my penny's worth.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

There is an able-bodied middle aged man in my home (his birthday Wednesday, 45 years old) and he is bringing me a truckload of mulch from the municipality and picking up the soil-less medium I need for the buckets. He's a vegetable gardener so he's glad I'm growing vegetables. See how far I can push him.

We were walking to an event for solstice at our arboretum last evening and saw a plastic colander on a small pile set out for trash day where a yard sale had been this weekend. We picked it up on the way back. See? gathering materials a little at a time. They turn up where you least expect them. :D

Thanks for the reminder about my hand. Nothing worth giving up my hand, ya know.

Have a great day.

A.

Clifton, VA(Zone 7a)

Amanda, I'm not clear on your plan for the tee-pees. You say you don't want to put the stakes in the buckets, but they are on the concrete driveway, so what will hold the stakes together at the bottom? What type of plants will you be growing in the buckets with tee-pees, and how tall are the stakes? An arbor could replace the stakes/teepee completely, but I'm not sure how you would attach it to the concrete driveway. A bit more information please...?

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Veggie man - I need to sit down and make some drawings, probably. If I lash 3 lengths of bamboo together to form a teepee, I would think that instead of inserting them into the pot that they would be self-sustaining as sort of a tripod. As the plant grows and becomes heavier it would weigh the teepee down with less risk of tipping which sounds like a concern. The teepee could be reinforced like an upside down tomato cage with wire or twine horizontally at intervals. Maybe it could be tied around the rim of the bucket somehow. OR the legs could be secured to one another around the bucket with twine or wire.

The point is to avoid tipping. I have access to dried bamboo 6'-10' lengths and plenty shorter than that too. With a wider base i would think there would be greater balance and lower center of gravity.

I have toyed with the idea of building an arbor also but wondered if that would allow enough light. Our driveway runs from the street down the length of the house - at least 100' or more. There is some soil on one side of the driveway but not on the house side. Like the idea with the teepee - I would think that the downward force of the plant's weight would offer structural integrity/equilibrium as well. It wouldn't be anything too fancy - we rent the house. Maybe some posts for legs, 2"x4"s to make cross braces on either side, a facing board on the outside at the top for sort of cosmetics. I have access to a friend's wood heap and the arbor is something I will visualize and plan depending on the amount/type of wood available. I'm in a pinch right now and can't go out to purchase supplies.

My BF has generously offered to purchase my soiless media for me.
With this bum hand I have had trouble getting to work with the power tools and setting up the buckets, but the materials are coming together and I'm pleased with that.


Sorry I can't give you specs on teepees or possible arbor. It's in my head and I will know it when I see it.

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Amanda - If you are going to attached the bamboo to the container one way or another, I can see it tipping over if the plants get top-heavy, but when you place a bunch of the ebuckets together, that's less likely to happen. If you don't add the bamboo teepees to the inside of the buckets, then what happens when you have to move them? You're likely to break the branches or stems to untangle them from the bamboo.

Here is an example of the bamboo inside the container. This is not a self-watering container, but does become top heavy when the vines get thicker at the top of the teepee.
http://davesgarden.com/community/blogs/i/50129/

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Thanks. I am way behind you all as you can see. The wrist brace has really slowed everything down. I'm thankful for the long growing season, though. Just about have everything together to fill those buckets EXCEPT:

My BF offered to go get me my soil-less soil components for me and I was very happy with that.
He called me from the big box store to tell me they didn't have what I wanted.

When he got home he was very pleased with himself because he bought the best he could buy - MG Organic Garden Soil 1.5 cf. :/

It's forest product, PBF, sphagnum peat. There is also the chicken poop fertilizer and I have always told people not to use garden soil/mix in containers because the nutrient content might be too much for containerized plantings.

What do you think? Do I have to take these 6 bags of soil back?!

I'm afraid I know the answer....

A.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

AmandaEsq - my experience with using MS Garden Soil in pots was not a happy one :(

I think it packed-down too much and deprived the plants of oxygen.

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

You can add some pine fines and/or perlite to that potting mix to lighten it. That's what I do when I get heavy potting mix.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Uh, no good way to say this. Soil goes in the ground. Potting MIX goes in containers.....

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Yeah, I already knew the answer. I hate that. Wonder, if the MG Organic potting mix is the same price I could trade 'em out. He's away on vacation - was trying to do a nice for me - hate that - he rarely goes out of his way like that - and spent a lot on it too.

Will head out today to discuss with customer service at the big box store.

hugs!
A.

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