Here are some photos of my set up process:

The buckets are modeled on the container buckets designed by the Home and Garden Information Center at the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension. Here’s a pdf of the bucket plans and other information about container gardening. I went with this design because it stores extra water in the bottom of the bucket. In traditional container gardens, the water just drains out the bottom, but since I’m in the AZ desert, the extra water chamber helps keep the soil moist and helps to prevent evaporation.

Here’s the basic design:

  1. Get a 5 gallon bucket, some 3/8″ tubing, a 10.25″ circle, and some 3″ pvc pipe
  2. drill a 3/8″ hole 2″ up from the bottom of the bucket
  3. insert a length of drain tube into the hole and push a nail through the end of it. This keeps the tube from getting pulled out. In my set up, all my buckets drain into a water collection tank, so I can use overflow water to re water the plants. Neat!
  4. Cut 3 2.5″lengths of pvc pipe and place them in the bottom of the bucket. These hold the spacer up and create the water storage chamber.
  5. Make the 10.25″ circle. I used metal cause I found some scrap lying around. You could cut one out of a bucket lid, or even plywood. Drill a bunch of 1/4″ holes in the circle so that the water can drain out. When you plants are mature enough, their roots will even grow through the holes to tap directly into the water chamber.
  6. Put the circle in the bucket above the spacers and add a layer of rocks, about 1″ deep.
  7. Fill the rest of the bucket with dirt / compost / vermiculite.
  8. Get Planting!

I’m going to start out with lettuce, onions, and garlic, all of which do well in the Arizona winters. I’ve also got some bush beans and peppers, we’ll see how that goes.