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Is It Safe To Grow Vegetables In 5-Gallon Home Depot Buckets?

Container gardens are all the rage for renters without access to plots of land. Is it safe to grow vegetables in a 5-gallon Home Depot bucket, though? We did the research to bring you the answer.

It is safe to grow vegetables in a 5-gallon Home Depot bucket provided that you decontaminate the buckets and ensure that they drain well.

5-gallon Home Depot buckets are some of the most affordable containers available to renters looking to make the most of a back porch or otherwise limited space. Our guide can help you prepare your 5-gallon buckets to most effectively serve your gardening needs. 

Is It Safe To Grow Vegetables In 5-Gallon Home Depot Buckets?

Many home gardeners may be concerned about the safety of 5-gallon buckets from Home Depot. The composition of these buckets may lead home gardeners to believe that the use of the buckets as gardening containers may result in the contamination of their dirt.

Fortunately, this isn't the case. Home Depot's 5-gallon buckets are safe to use as gardening containers because they are not treated with dangerous chemicals. As such, no chemicals can seep into the dirt and compromise your yearly harvest.

That said, gardeners intent on gardening with Home Depot 5-gallon buckets can still pre-wash these buckets before using them as gardening containers. A preemptive wash will ensure that any germs from a hardware store or a storage facility won't impact the health of the dirt you place inside the container. 

What Vegetables Grow Best In 5-Gallon Home Depot Buckets?

Fresh Tomato and Lettuce in Nontoxic Vegetable Garden

Not all plants grow well inside a 5-gallon Home Depot bucket. You need to choose your garden carefully if you want to make the most out of the buckets you've brought home with you. With that in mind, some of the best plants to grow in a 5-gallon Home Depot bucket include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant
  • Carrots
  • Beans
  • Potatoes

Read more: How To Replenish Soil After Tomatoes [Inc. Amending Soil Or What To Plant]

If you want to make the most of your limited gardening space, you may have the opportunity to plant some of these vegetables alongside symbiotic herbs or plants. This practice, referred to as companion planting, can drive off pests and increase the virility of the partnered plants.

For example, if you plant basil alongside your tomatoes, the two plants can work together to transform your 5-gallon Home Depot bucket into a lush ecosystem. Planting garlic alongside your potatoes can also prevent pests from destroying your harvest.

You can learn more about companion planting courtesy of your yearly almanac

How Can You Prepare A 5-Gallon Home Depot Bucket For Gardening?

A Home Depot brand all-purpose 5 gallon bucket sitting on a construction equipment vehicle, Is It Safe To Grow Vegetables In 5-Gallon Home Depot Buckets?

As mentioned, there are preparatory steps you can take to ensure that your 5-gallon Home Depot buckets are as safe and effective to use as gardening aids as possible. These steps can include the following:

1. Choose Your Buckets And Soil

Tomatoes make an ideal container plant when grown in five gallon buckets sold at the hardware store

You can't start a container garden without the containers. If you want to explore the benefits of gardening in 5-gallon Home Depot buckets, head to your local hardware store and bring your buckets of choice home. Clean your buckets with a combination of baking soda and water or other plant-safe cleaners.

While you're out at the hardware store, choose what soil you want to grow your plants in. Beginning gardeners may benefit from using flood-resistant soil, as the soil can compensate for over- or under-watering.

If you have the opportunity, make sure that the soil you bring home is free of contaminants or hidden pests. You can work with a representative at your local hardware store to find the most suitable soil.

2. Ensure Safe Drainage

Upside down the old plastic plant pots and see the drainage holes, black color plastic plant pot on stone

Your plants require more than healthy soil and a safe container to thrive. If your 5-gallon Home Depot bucket doesn't have appropriate drainage holes, you risk drowning or rotting your plant’s roots by overwatering. One of the best ways to get ahead of this potential problem is to drill holes in the bottom of your bucket.

The holes you drill shouldn't be large enough for soil to escape from the bucket. However, the hole should allow water to run through your dirt and escape out to the other side of the bucket.

If the vegetables you are planting are particularly water sensitive, you can use other means to control their exposure to moisture. For example, placing a small layer of gravel in the bottom of your bucket ensures that water will continue to flow safely through it while you’re watering.

You can also use flood-resistant soil bought from your local hardware store to protect your plants from excess moisture. 

3. Balance Your Soil With Compost And/Or Fertilizer

Compost with composted earth

As soon as your 5-gallon Home Depot bucket is well draining, you can set your pre-bought soil. Not all soils should be left to their own devices, however. Most soils require some aid from fertilizer or compost if they are going to successfully bring up your plants.

Make sure that the balance of compost or fertilizer to soil suits your vegetables' desired ecosystem. You can use pH strips to determine the pH value of your soil prior to transplanting your plants.

Finally, make sure that the soil you bought from the hardware store doesn't already have compost or fertilizer inside of it. If you use too much fertilizer when transplanting your plants, the onslaught of nutrients may actually kill your desired vegetables.

4. Plant And Water Your Vegetables

Watering vegetables in a raised bed

Last but not least, you can plant your vegetables. If you are planting seeds, consider starting your seeds indoors and waiting until they have developed a small sprouts to transplant them into your 5-gallon Home Depot bucket.

If you have pre-grown sprouts, you may begin those sprouts in your 5-gallon Home Depot buckets without concern for what effect the weather may have on unprotected seeds.

Once your plants are safely transplanted, water those vegetables in accordance with their needs. You need to water a freshly planted sprout and/or seed so that it can effectively take root in your garden.

How Can You Protect 5-Gallon Home Depot Buckets From Scavengers?

Grown culinary herbs in hanging colored metal buckets. Growing plants in the garden. Hobby, vegetable garden

It doesn't matter whether you live in an apartment complex or on your own plot of land. Where there are vegetables, there are bound to be scavengers.

You don't have to sacrifice part of your annual harvest to the birds, raccoons, and rabbits living in your area. Rather, there are steps you can take to ensure that your Home Depot 5-gallon buckets remain pest free.

Companion Planting

As mentioned, the use of companion plants can drive unwanted scavengers away from your garden. Garlic, for example, has a strong enough smell to deter some of the most stubborn of your local scavengers.

You can use additional plants, like marigolds, to prevent scavengers from making a meal out of your garden.

Cages And Fencing

There are also specialized bucket cages that you can place over your plants to prevent birds or other height-advantaged scavengers from reaching your vegetables. You can take this protection effort a step further and place your 5-gallon Home Depot buckets in an elevated spot where scavengers cannot reach them.

Should the need arise, you may have the opportunity to fence off your back porch or the space where you keep your buckets. If you live in an apartment complex, make sure the complex allows these modifications to your outdoor amenities before you invest in them.

When To Use Pest Removal Products

Many homeowners may be inclined to use pesticides or other chemical means to drive unwanted creatures away from their container gardens. While these pesticides may have their uses, they can also prove dangerous.

Some pesticides may hinder a vegetable’s growth or even put your health at risk when you go to eat your crop. With that in mind, do your research about vegetable-safe pesticides before you put them to use.

You may also want to use some manner of chemical deterrent that won't damage your local water table or ecosystem.

5-Gallon Home Depot Buckets Make Excellent Container Gardening Aids

A Home Depot brand all-purpose 5 gallon bucket sitting on a construction equipment vehicle

It is, generally speaking, safe to grow vegetables in a 5-gallon Home Depot bucket. If you're looking for an affordable way to expand your container garden or foster new growth before the weather starts to warm, these buckets make stand-out additions to your gardening endeavors. Make sure that the buckets you use are decontaminated and drain well for the best gardening success.

You can learn more about the creative and affordable ways you can expand your garden by experimenting with the tools you have on hand.

Whether you want to use Home Depot 5-gallon buckets, milk cartons, or custom-made containers, the look and makeup of your garden are entirely up to you. Explore your options and see for yourself what gardening makeup best suits your budget and interests.