Five gallon bucket system...

Concord, NC(Zone 7b)

I'm going to get the chance to test this out very soon-- I had a couple of branches which grew outside of the cage on my Paul Robeson break off today when I tried to stake them up. :o( Right now I have them stuck into fertilized potting mix in a large planter, trying to save them (some of the branches have little 'maters on them). Since I have to make a couple of planters very quickly AND on a budget, this seems like the best option.

gessieviolet, from reading this I see that for each planter, I'll need a 5 gallon bucket, a 7 quart colander, a piece of fill pipe (how long?) and some aquarium tubing or a straw... is that right? Still no Dremel yet, but we have a drill I can use to make the overflow outlet.

I'll also need to get potting mix and cages... and make sure any parts of the plants that grow outside the cages (IF I can save these branches) get staked up ASAP... it was heart-wrenching to see these branches break off right in front of me!

Saluda, SC(Zone 8a)

liannenc, sorry about the break. You are right on the equipment you need. Cut the pipe whatever length that will let it protrude just above the bucket lid that is convenient for watering. Cut the bottom of pipe at an angle so it doesn't lie flat against the bucket bottom and make pouring water slower.

i feel your pain on the break. The other morning I was sitting in one of those plastic type chairs working in my garden, the ground was wet and my weight made the rear legs of the chair sink into the ground, pitching me backward onto a plant I had been carefully babying for 2 weeks! I floundered like a beached walrus and finally was able to get up, looked around to see if any neighbors had witnessed my humiliation. My poor coleus was smashed flat. I did surround the broken pieces with mulch. Believe it or not, they're growing again.

gessie,thanks for the much needed laugh.
Glad you weren't hurt, sorry about your poor coleus.
Where did you buy your Fafard 3B mixture w/forest products?
Does it come in bags or did you buy it by the truck load?


This message was edited Jul 12, 2009 2:27 PM

Saluda, SC(Zone 8a)

Christmascactus, my poor coleus is actually trying to grow again!

The Fafard 3B is bagged ( 2.8 cubic feet to a bag). There are several sources around here, each with a different price. I get it at a discount place (Jackson & Perkins) for the best price. All Fafard's mixes are of a different formulation of forest products, in my experience it can't be beat as a container mix. I thought it was costly until I thought to compare prices per cubic foot of material; I get it at a price that compares very favorably with Miracle Gro products, which I like, but find to be a little less fluffy than I like for the self water containers.

edited to correct name of source that I buy from.

This message was edited Jul 13, 2009 12:08 PM

Crestview, FL

Which dollar store did ya'll get the colander from? Dollar General? Dollar Tree or what is the name of it? I got 4 buckets now.
joy

Saluda, SC(Zone 8a)

The one I got it from is called "Dollar Store" but I would imagine they all have them.. Wally world has them they're just double the price.

gessie, is Jenkin perkins in Saluda?
I'm in the Laurens/Greenwood area.

Saluda, SC(Zone 8a)

No, it's in Greenwood in the old Walmart (I think) bldg on the bypass. And in a senior moment (or two) I incorrectly identified this place. Sorry, It is Jackson & Perkins (the famous rose people) that are now connected with Parks, and Wayside Gdns.

This message was edited Jul 13, 2009 12:05 PM

I know where that is,thanks.

Leesburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Will be following the progress. IT seems like a sound idea!

Saluda, SC(Zone 8a)

I have used the 2 buckets to see how seedling plants would survive with some neglect, Interestingly through the hottest and driest period of the summer the plants in the two are doing great even though I water them only occasionally. One four o'clock seedlings and the other swiss chard transplants thriving beautifully. Both of these will wilt dramatically if water is insufficient. The wicking seems to be working really well.

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

Hey, Gessie!
Thanks for the update on your system. I'm gearing up for my fall planting the 1st and 2nd weekends in September. I'm thinking I'll conduct a little experiment of my own between your colandar system and my eCookie design.

I'll make sure to plant seedlings of the exact size and type in one of each system, and water and fertilize exactly the same. I'll place them side x side for sunlight exposure, and otherwise ensure all growing conditions are as duplicate as possible.

This'll be fun! And, I'll keep ya'll posted with pics.

Linda

Crestview, FL

Gymgirl: Please keep us posted, as all I'm using this fall is the totes, GPs and EBs and smart pots. I'm saving the 5 gallon buckets for my maters this next Spring; so, that gives plenty of time for me to step back safely and see how ya'll do with it first. LOL
joy

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

Joy,
After this experiment, I'm gonna decide if I need to switch the mater operation to wider pots/containers. My very first veggie crop was in Spring '07, grown in my brand new EBs. All my vines were humongous indeterminates that produced 'maters that filled the palm of my hand. I had one Black Krim that took EXACTLY 150 days from seed to slicing! I thought I was crazy for waiting so long for a tomato, until I tasted it. Been hooked on the Black Krim's ever since.

But. I have not managed to duplicate that success. Call it beginner's luck, maybe. I grew a Spring '08 crop that gave me moderate success, but nothing like that first season. I'm trying to correct my growing conditions and duplicate Spr '07.

With that said, I think there's either something defective in my double-bucket self-watering system, or there may not be enough LATERAL space in a 5-gallon bucket to accommodate the huge root systems my indeterminates grow. I examined each root system when I ripped them, and those roots spread more wide than deep. The original EBs accommodate the lateral spread, whereas a 5-gallon bucket does not have much lateral spread at all. As I recall, one root system I yanked spread almost 15" laterally, while it wasn't very deep at all.

I think this is an important consideration, and I'll be exploring the use of a wider (though not necessarily deeper) container in the future. As a matter of fact, as I think of it, I actually have several 24" planters (SamsClub/Costco) that I could try my 'maters in this upcoming season. They are deep as well, about 18". But, planting at approx. the same depth as I would in an EB would put the root spread at around the 18" mark in the planter. Which is certainly more spread space than the 11" available in a 5-gallon bucket.

Yeah...

Linda

Crestview, FL

Linda: I hope you will at least try it and let me know if it works or not before my tomato season, if it doesn't no problem, I haven't wasted money, time and effort into trying to grow my tomatoes in them, if it works, I will save a bunch of time, money and effort. I didn't much care for the square footers for tomatoes for the very reason you stated. The reservoir was full of roots which let me know that the container was not wide enough, it was as deep as the EBs; but not quite as wide and the roots went right into the reservoir soaking up all the water, no wonder they did so badly. The tomatoes also did not do as well in the revolutionary planters either, I used their potting mix and it still caked up on me, or the tomato plant got so huge it would break off, so think it is better I plant peppers or eggplants in them next Spring, which will free up a lot of the EBs for my tomatoes. (smiles).
joy

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

Yeah, Joy,
This is definitely an interesting learning experience!

Crestview, FL

Gymgirl: And fun too. I've had a great Spring, summer was icky; but, I had a great Spring, since I sprayed all the bugs are gone and now my plants are really thriving again, wished I hadn't of gotten impatient and pulled some of them tomatoes up now. They say patience is a virtue and it's one I need to get for sure. LOL
joy

Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

How are everyone's five gallon 'planters' doing?

(I haven't gotten going yet, but tomato season is winter here)

Crestview, FL

Yes everyone; please let me know if these are working before February as that is when I will need to know, I plan on planting about 25-30 tomatoes this February and need to know before hand, if it works, I will use them for my maters.
joy

Concord, NC(Zone 7b)

Yes, indeed-- they do work! I planted some cuttings in the ones I made according to Gessieviolet's design (with a LOT of help from my husband, bless him!) and I'm attaching a pic... the bigger plant is Goose Creek, the slightly smaller one is Paul Robeson. Anyway, after I moved the cuttings from the 4 inch pots to the ebuckets, they took off like gangbusters! The Goose Creek is doing especially well-- much better than the original plant did. It's already got about a dozen fruit set on it and I'm looking forward to a decent harvest because I only got about 5 decent ones off the original plant before I had to pull it this past week due to what I think was septoria that I simply could not get under control. I love my Easi-lift bags, but I think next year I'm going to do other veggies in those and make more ebuckets for my 'maters!

Thumbnail by liannenc
Concord, NC(Zone 7b)

I'm posting another pic to show what the ebuckets looked like before we filled them with potting mix. I couldn't find a colander like the one gessieviolet used that was the right size, but the ones I did find (at a Dollar Tree store) apparently work just fine!

Thumbnail by liannenc
Saluda, SC(Zone 8a)

It is such a thrill to realize we have come up with something that seems to be working well. I have intentionally neglected my 2 buckets through the roughest part of summer we have had and, believe it or not, the plants are growing well. I have put water in them twice and the rest of the time I have let the rain supply moisture yet they grow. I am looking forward to seriously using them next spring for vegetables.

Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

Confession time: I had a fountain of Rainbow Chard growing up out of a plain five gallon bucket last year, I'll have to see if I can find some photos---

Just a bucket, no colander, no holes to drill, just a bucket. I put sticks and twigs in the bottom for maybe six inches, and some boiled chicken bones from a soup stock. Then another six inches of unfinished, rough compost, then Pro Mix potting soil. I'd give the bucket a whole gallon of water when the Chard drooped, but that's all.

Oh, my.

Crestview, FL

Hooray: And we got a dollar tree here, so, if I can't find the colander Molamola uses then I will just copy liannenc's.
joy

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

I'm BACK and putting the pedal to the metal! Gotta go with Gessieviolet's design to save time painting my cookies!

I can't find 7 qt. plastic collanders, only 6 quart with slits like in Liannenc's post of her design, and mine cost $TWO dollars apiece!

Question: Is Liannec's collander sitting directly on the bottom of the bucket?
Question: Is the straw being placed level with the bottom of the overturned collander?

Will that be enough of a water reservoir, and, if so, how much water will it hold? I need an adequate reservoir cause my broccoli and cauliflowers just soak up the juice when they get going. LMK soonest.

I picked up 6 collanders yesterday evening. Good part is mine only have ONE handle to cut away.

Linda

This message was edited Sep 9, 2009 9:46 PM

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

Ok, it's too late for everyone 2 B in the garden, so somebody check in soon please. I cut my colander handle off and pushed the colander down into my 5 gal bucket. Then I traced a mark around the inside of the bucket where the rim settled in, removed the colander and filled the bucket to see how many gallons of water would come up to the mark. I believe it was 1.5 gal, but hard to tell since I had grabbed one of my original eBuckets with an overflow hole in it. I sopped up about .25 gal of water. Ya'll can stop laughing now...

Thumbnail by Gymgirl
Crestview, FL

Gymgirl: I love the design I'm doing on the kitty litter buckets, I have two of them, the 40 lb Fresh Step bucket and I put the 31 lb Scoop Away bucket inside the Fresh Step, nice size reservoir there, don't know many cat owners though (groan). I also noticed at the dollar tree they have all kinds of containers that would be perfect for making a reservoir for the bottom of buckets, will have to measure them later, not using them this fall, I don't think, but maybe, after buying $41 worth of startings, and you get 9 for $3.99 maybe will have to???? LOL
joy

Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

Don't put any kitty litter in your soil unless it's just plain plain, with no fragrance or anything. Lots of poison in kitty litter!

Other than additives, it's just clay that's mined by strip mining that totally destroys the landscape, and they leave it a big hilly mess. I was amazed when I drove through an area in the South someplace, looked like the End of the World. Whew.

But the buckets are great! I'd like to get some, haha, after that rant???

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

Good morning, all!

Would someone please respond re my questions below:

Question: Is the collander supposed to sit directly on the bottom of the bucket? When I trimmed my handle and pushed the colander down, it wedged itself in place about 6" from the bottom, almost level with the overflow hole already drilled in the bucket. This actually gives me the larger water reservoir I need. LMK, please.

Question: At what level should the straw/overflow hole be placed?

Thanks.

If my colander placement is ok as is, with my overflow hole just below the rim, then it takes me exactly 3 minutes to build a one-bucket system (30 seconds to trim the handle, 1 minute to drill the fill tube hole, and 1.5 minutes to assemble the components).

Linda

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

Um, are ya'll upset with me?

Huntsville, AL(Zone 7a)

Linda
No one is upset with you!! I would answer you but I am not sure of the
answers yet. I am planning to make a trip to my doller tree tomorrow
to get the strainers. Then I have 2 different size buckets to try them in.
So I will spend Sat. trying them out and let you know.

Annie

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

I'm thinking I could retrofit my 24" containers with a colander. Just have tah find those hole plugs...

Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

Not upset with you at all! Just not glued to the computer all the time. Most of the time, yes, but not all the time.

Sounds like you have a magic formula!

And tomatoes, once I read they can put roots four feet deep, but I bet it's even more, and sideways? I'd love to know how far!

Saluda, SC(Zone 8a)

Linda, I don't see how you would have a wicking effect below the 6 inch level, if I understand what you are saying.

The soil mix on the sides of the colander wicks the water and your water is lower than you mix isn't it? When the colander touches the bottom of the bucket all the water can be wicked. If the edge of colander wedges against the bucket right above the hole there would be nothing in the colander space as the water would only go to level of the overflow hole, no mix would be in contact with water to act as a wick, would it?

If you moved the overflow hole higher up you would have a wick as long as the water was in contact with the soil mix, but once the water gets lower than the bottom edge of the colander the wicking stops and only if the roots grew down into the water would the water be available to the plant.

This message was edited Sep 10, 2009 8:22 PM

Thumbnail by gessieviolet
Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

I think we need some clear glass five gallon buckets so we can try these different things and SEE what's going on in there!

Ames, NE(Zone 5b)

Gymgirl
I didn't get back right away.. But I have posted without a response.
Once on your thread..Figured it wasn't any big deal..
You know how friendly these folks are..
Best Wishes

Tubby

Crestview, FL

Gymgirl: I haven't built one yet dear so don't know yet, waiting for you to try it out first (smiles). Go ahead hit me now. LOL
joy

Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

joy: Thump.

And, gymgirl, I would thing to give about one inch of airspace, one inch below the upturned, upside down collander's bottom for your drain hole. Plenty of water for those darned thursty tomatoes. They'll get their roots down into the water quick, I bet!

Or, but, will the roots get stuck going round and round inside the curled edge of the colander's rim? Couldn't hurt to poke a couple of holes there.

Cheers,

Melissa

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

Thanks, guys!

Here's what I'm seeing in my drawing below. Please tell me if my design theory for a higher water well is flawed and, if so, where?

If push comes to shove, I can trim the colander to sit on the bottom like ya'll are proposing. Thanks for all your feedback. I have tah outfit these TOMORROW. Got a flat full of cole crop seedlings standing at the ready!

This is exciting!!!!

Linda

Thumbnail by Gymgirl
Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

I think it should be fine, unless the roots go berserk. Should be OK.

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