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Kitchen Gardening

What’s In YOUR Bucket?

A good bucket (or two, or three) can be a loyal friend in the garden tool department.

  • Photo/Illustration: Greg Holdsworth
  • The bucket adorned with tools.
    Photo/Illustration: Fiskars
  • The Official Pickle bucket.
    Photo/Illustration: Greg Holdsworth
  • Long live the Homer Bucket!
    Photo/Illustration: Greg Holdsworth
  • Smaller 3-gallon buckets are just as functional, only smaller.
    Photo/Illustration: Greg Holdsworth

Have you ever noticed how many different uses the simplest things seem to have? The garden bucket, for example. “I’m holding one and looking at three others near my greenhouse”, I thought. So I thought I’d rattle off a few.

1. As a Weed & Refuse Collector. There’s at least one of these in the yard at all times. When I’m in an all-out weed assault, I always seem to fill smaller containers too often. The 5-gallon size can holds a lot more weeds, compost materials or rubbish.

2. As a Tool Holder. Enter the garden bucket organizer or “caddy”. For a fair cost, you can score one of these in an assortment of colors, fabrics and compartment options. I have to admit, the Spongebob Squarepants one was over the top.

3. As a Soil & Compost Mixing Bucket. Although a wide, shallow tub is more effective for mixing, your bucket can be a mixer in a pinch.

4. As a Soil or Compost Mover. If you haven’t invested in a wheelbarrow yet, a few of these can come in handy when moving soil or compost. A bucket makes pouring easier than a wheelbarrow in tight or low spaces. Make sure the bucket has a good handle if used for this purpose.

5. As a Poor-Man’s Rainwater Collector. Though somewhat rudimentary, buckets can serve as “mini-rainbarrels”. They obviously don’t catch the water volume that a roof/gutter system does, but if you have a spot in the yard where runoff gathers excessively, you can rig one with a spigot. Be sure and put a screen on it if it’s a semi-permanent setup, to prevent mosquitos from breeding.

6. As a Planter. Though somewhat tacky, a bucket can certainly be used as a planter. You can paint it to your heart’s desire. Just remember the drainage holes in the bottom. The most creative use I’ve seen? Three Home Depot buckets inverted, hung from a balcony, with tomato plants growing out of the bottom.

7. As an In-Ground Composter. Though a metal can is more durable, you can set up an in-ground composting system. Holes drilled into the sides and bottom allow worms and other critters to help decompose your organic wastes. I use it in conjunction with bokashi composting.

8. As a Container for Compost or Worm Tea. The benefits of “teas” are many. Grab your 5-gallon bucket, water, an agitation device such as an aquarium pump and tubing, and a stocking filled with compost, and you’re good to go.

Allow me to plug a certain kind of bucket. Firehouse Subs has over 400 locations, mainly in the Southern United States. You can score one their bright red used 5-gallon pickle buckets for a mere $2. What’s important about this is that you are also donating to the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation that helps emergency services. A worthwhile incentive indeed.

So, what’s in YOUR bucket?

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