How to Garden in Small Spaces

In our new place, we do have quite a bit of space behind our house, but it’s actually a shared area, not necessarily our own. We both really enjoy gardening, and wanted to make something work for our little patio. How were we going to grow our own little garden? We decided on a pot garden! (Get your head out of the gutter, not that kind of pot.😜)

Now, we also didn’t really want to go out and buy a bunch of pots (still recently graduated college students here), so we wanted to do something that was a bit more cost effective. Thus: our pot garden actually is a pickle bucket garden. We have a connection with a local business owner who goes through buckets and buckets of pickles each week. Think 5 gallon buckets from Home Depot, or any typical 5 gallon buckets that you can get your hands on.

Supplies Needed:

  • First, make a decision on how many plants you would like, and then gather the buckets to match! We chose 3 tomatoes, 2 Zuchini, 1 pepper, and 1 spinach. Meaning: 7 buckets were needed. – $0.00 (We were able to get for free!)
  • Spray paint (optional) – $3.99
  • Garden Soil – $10.00
  • Vegetable/Fruit starters or seeds (we did seeds for everything except tomatoes) – $15.00
  • Tomato Cages (if doing tomatoes) – $12.00
  • Fertilizer (optional) – $10.00
  • Drill

Total Cost: $51.00 (ish)

Time to Create: 2 hours ish (unless you choose to paint which adds 3+ hours)

A few notes to call out… We are in Utah and were told by Merek’s skilled, gardening grandmother that it’s great to plant after Mother’s Day. We actually didn’t get around to planting until late May, which played a part in the type of plants that we were able to do!

After we had gathered the buckets I realized that I really didn’t want green buckets chilling on my porch, but something that looked a bit more subtle or classy. If you are cool with the color of buckets you were able to acquire, then you can skip the first step and head straight to the second step.

  1. Painting. We spray painted all of our buckets black. We didn’t bother spray painting the bottom, but only the sides, and then the top three inches of the inside of the bucket. This particular task we did over an afternoon. A couple layers did the trick, and then we were off to the races to actually creating the garden.
  2. We would highly suggest drilling a few holes in the bottom of your pots. You don’t want your garden to suffer from root rot, and the holes will provide a way for the water to flow through nicely. We used a drill to create a few small holes around the bottom of our buckets.
  3. We took a quick trip to Lowe’s & Costco to get our gardening supplies. At Costco, there was a great deal of 3 tomato starters for $10. We got an Early Girl, Celebrity, and Big Beef tomato plant starter. If anything, we wanted to see what the difference was in taste, and growth. (Our own little science experiment for the summer! #nerds)

    At Lowe’s we gathered the remaining materials. Tomato cages, Zucchini seeds, Spinach seeds, Bell Pepper seeds, garden soil, and fertilizer. Everything was pretty straight forward. All seeds list instructions on the back of when is the best to plant certain plants, which played a decision in the seeds that we chose.

    A cute older woman working at Lowe’s taught me quite a bit about fertilizer by singing a little song: “The plants grow down, the flowers grow big, and the plants grow tall.” 😂  So if you have ever looked at the back of fertilizer, there are three specific numbers. Something like “15-30-15”. The first number is apparently is such that the higher the number, the more stimulation to growth in the roots of your plants. The second number, the better for flowers and fruits. The third, overall growth for how tall your plant grows. I wouldn’t take that for doctrine, but I went with it because she said find one with a big middle number and my tomatoes will be large and beautiful.
  4. We took our supplies home and got to work. We filled each pot about 3/4ths of the way full, and then planted the tomato starters and filled the rest with dirt. For the seeds, we filled the pots all the way and left about 1 inch of the inner bucket showing at the top. Each seed package will tell you how deep to plant. The ones we had, you just stuck a finger in the hole and planted a few seeds. For all of our seeded pots, we actually planted about 5 seeds around the area. We wanted to be sure that at least one took, and we could weed out the others if they all happened to be successful.
  5. After about 3 weeks. Our Zucchini plants crushed it and had all grown nicely to about 4 inches tall each. We chose the biggest to stay (survival of the fittest at is finest).
  6. Continual upkeep: Tomatoes don’t actually need too much water. We water our plants about 3 times a week at the most. Ultimately, just keep an eye on the plants and feel the soil every so often. There could be days where they don’t need water, or the other way around. Make sure that your plants are getting enough sun, and stand by for our harvest! 😋

Enjoy your little patio garden and all the fresh foods that come along with it! Send us pictures of your garden growing, and what you are able to harvest as well! 😁 Follow along on Instagram to see our progress as well @thebackyardbuffs