Gardening | 20 June 2016Grow Strawberries in a 5-Gallon Bucket Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Strawberries can be a delicate fruit to grow. Susceptible to damage from snails and slugs, they can also ripen on one side if lying on the ground, and conditions have to be just right for the plants to bear the maximum amount of fruit and grow as healthy as possible. A great way to control growing conditions and maximize the yield is to plant strawberry plants in a strawberry pot. Legend has it that the idea for this space-efficient vertical garden originated as a way to reuse broken terra cotta wine jars in ancient Greece and Italy. Whatever the origins, the idea behind a strawberry pot remains valid: grow the plants up off the ground and you make it harder for pests and diseases to ruin your crop, and easier to make sure your plants are getting everything they need to grow strong. The pot not only allows you to control the soil and moisture your plants enjoy, but it can also regularly be turned to ensure that all the strawberry plants get the same sun exposure. Pretty clever, right? Chris Peterson, author of The 5-Gallon Bucket Book, walks readers step-by-step through the process of making a strawberry pot from an unlikely resource: a 5-gallon bucket. 5-Gallon Bucket Book One advantage to using a plastic five-gallon bucket instead of the more traditional terra cotta is that the plastic will not wick moisture out of the soil. It’s also less prone to breakage than terra cotta—a big advantage if you’re trying to grow strawberries in a backyard frequented by children. You can always paint it a dusty red-orange to match the look of terra cotta. Although you may be tempted to remove the handle, it would be wise to leave it attached to the bucket. Strawberries are perennial plants; they will bear fruit for successive seasons if protected during colder months. The handle will allow you to move the bucket into a garage or storage shed after the plants are done bearing fruit, to keep them safe over the winter. It will also make it easier to turn the bucket and get even sun exposure all the way around. Even if you’re not a big fan of growing strawberries, you can use this bucket for smallspace gardening. It can accommodate an herb garden or even an ornamental flower or succulent garden. The method of crafting and planting the pot stays the same. What You’ll Need TOOLS: Sharpie 3″ hole saw Cordless drill and bits Table saw or jigsaw (or hacksaw) Vise Scissors MATERIALS: 5-galon bucket without lid 2½” PVC pipe Landscaping fabric Crushed gravel, broken terra cotta, or other coarse, irregular fill Potting soil Strawberry plants Garbage-can lid 80-grit sandpaper How to Make a Strawberry Planter from a 5-Gallon Bucket Mark 3″-diameter holes around the outside of the bucket. The pattern of the holes should be staggered, with 2 stacked holes near the top and bottom next to a hole along the middle of the bucket. Drill out the holes with the hole saw. Turn the bucket upside down and drill a random pattern of ?/??” holes across the bottom. 5-Gallon Bucket Book Cut 3″ pieces of PVC pipe with the saw. The number of sections should match the number of holes you drilled in the side of the bucket. Cut the sections at a severe angle (to create the bottom of 2 sections), followed by a straight cut (to create the top of the next section). These are cut in the same way as if you were making stakes. 5-Gallon Bucket Book Cut a 16″ length of the PVC pipe. Secure it in a vise and drill ¼” holes in a random pattern all around the surface of the pipe. 5-Gallon Bucket Book Cut a circle of landscaping fabric to fit in the bottom of the bucket. Line the bottom of the bucket with the fabric and add a 2″ layer of your fill material. Stand the drilled pipe up in the center of the bucket and pour in potting soil up to the first holes. Shove a pipe section into one of the lower holes at a downward angle. The long side of the “point” should be on the bottom. Push the pipe section in until only about 1 to 1½” projects out from the bucket and the pointed end is secured in the potting soil. Repeat with the other lower holes. 5-Gallon Bucket Book Add more potting soil to fill the bucket to the top of the bottom holes. Plant the strawberry plants in these holes, firming around them with additional potting soil as necessary. Be careful to keep the crown of each plant above the level of the soil. 5-Gallon Bucket Book Continue this process of adding soil and planting the plants until you’ve filled the bucket. Plant more plants in the top as desired. Water thoroughly, in the center watering pipe and in the individual pockets. Place the bucket on the upside-down garbage can lid, on loose rock or gravel, or on bolsters so that the drain holes are not blocked. PROJECT OPTIONS Want a bigger haul of delicious, sweet red berries? No problem—this project is scalable. To create a bigger planter with greater yield in the same modest footprint, stack a second bucket—modified with holes and drainpipe—right over the first. Start by cutting the bottom off the top bucket. Drill the holes and “stake” pipes as you did for the bottom planter. Push the cut bottom edge down into the top of the bottom bucket and then plant the top bucket just as you did with the bottom. Then starting enjoying all that luscious fruit. ————————————————- Why just reuse a bucket when you can reinvent it? Five-gallon buckets are ubiquitous and cheap (indeed, they are often free). But did you know they can also be hacked, hot-rodded, reengineered, and upcycled to create dozens of useful DIY projects for homeowners, gardeners, small-scale farmers, and preppers? 5-Gallon Bucket Book contains 60+ ideas that put these humble and hard-working mainstays to work past their prime and keep them out of landfills. Simple step-by-step instructions, as well as parts lists and images of the completed projects, make sure you will have fun and love the results of your work. Projects include perfect additions to your yard and garden, tools to care for your animals, useful innovations, handy home helpers, and even family-oriented designs! They range from simple things such as chicken feeders to much more complex projects (small room air conditioner, anyone?). For anyone who doesn’t already have fifteen of them cluttering up the garage, 5-Gallon Bucket Book also offers advice on where to get cheap and free buckets and how to tell if a bucket is safe to use for food. Chris Peterson is a veteran home improvement and design author living in Ashland, Oregon. Among the many books he has written for Cool Springs Press and other publishers are Building with Secondhand Stuff, Manskills, four books in the Ideas You Can Use series, and many Black & Decker Complete Guides. He has also authored several books in the food and cooking area and he has co-authored numerous home design books with noted media celebrities. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.