When space is in short supply, consider growing your own carrots in a 5-gallon bucket. 5-gallon buckets are an excellent solution — they are easy to get for free, and they are the perfect growing environment for producing long and juicy carrots.
If you can’t find any old buckets from friends, a quick search online should get you five buckets for around £20.00.
Why Use a 5-Gallon Bucket?
Your average variety of carrots will grow to a length between 10 and 25 centimetres. Though it is unusual, in the right conditions, carrots can exceed 50 centimetres in length. Standard 5-gallon buckets are around 40 centimetres tall, enough depth for a carrot and to leave some room at the bottom for drainage.
You should have enough space to grow ten carrot plants. But remember, the more carrots you plant, the more time you will need to spend watering and feeding the soil. A plastic bucket is also easy to modify for drainage holes and comes with a handle to make moving it around easier.
Where Can I Find a 5-Gallon Bucket?
The bucket does not need to be exactly five gallons, and you can either buy a new bucket or use an old tub. Some paint buckets are around this size. But if you are using an old bucket that was used for chemicals, make sure that it is clean and there is no residue left on the inside.
You do not want to be growing carrots, which you will be consuming, growing in toxic chemicals. Restaurants often have bulk food delivered in these types of buckets; you can ask if they can give you one before they throw them away.
Before planting your carrots, take a quick look at these instructions for preparing your 5-gallon bucket.
- Mark out the bottom of the bucket with a felt-tip pen, and space the marks in a grid 10 centimetres apart.
- Drill with a half-centimetre bit or puncture the marks with a small crosshead screwdriver. These will be the drainage holes.
- You may way to paint the outside to make it look less like a plastic bucket and to match your home. Use spray paint on the outside — you want to keep the inside free from chemicals.
- Lay a 10-centimetre-thick base of gravel in the bucket to help with drainage.
- Fill the rest of the bucket with your soil and fertilizer. The mix should be loose, rich in nutrients, and allow for good drainage. Adding peat moss will help prevent fungal growth on your carrots.
- Plant your carrot tops or seeds.
- Put the lid that came with the bucket under the holes to collect drainage water.
Carrots are resilient to most growing conditions, but they still need regular watering and space to grow. The soil should be loose and soft — remove stones and rocks from the soil.
Carrots also prefer it when there is some perlite in the soil to aid in drainage and aeration. And mixing in peat or moss will offer nourishment and protection from disease.
If you mix homemade soil or buy a remix — you may find that after two months, the carrot plant’s growth slows. Water the soil as soon as the surface dries, but make sure that you empty the water in the drainage lid to prevent mould from growing. And use a liquid fertilizer halfway through the growing period to boost the nutrients in the soil.
Brian Sheridan has an allotment in Edgbaston and is a competitive grower. Brian is also a keen photographer and loves cooking. Brian and his wife Mary will also be running a stall at Edgebaston artisan market this year, selling products made from the allotment, including his award-winning relish!