How To Build a Sub-Irrigated Grow Bucket from ONE Bucket

Most sub-irrigated grow containers are made with two grow buckets.  After looking at all the different sites a few years ago I realized I didn’t want to waste a bucket to make each container.  I had also built a few sub-irrigated containers using Earth Boxes as a model, so I figured out a way to build with just one bucket;

Materials needed;

One 5 gallon bucket with lid– these are available from your hardware store, but they are pricey at about 5 to 7 dollars apiece. I have friends who are in the construction industry so was able to get some from them. When I exhausted that supply I went to Deli’s in my neighborhood and got the buckets they get pickles in.  I washed them with soap and sat them in the sun for a few days to get the pickle smell out.

A few large zip ties
Small saw or sharp knife to cut the lid down.
1 1/2 foot length of PVC pipe, 2 inch size.
3 plastic 16 ounce Solo cups or other containers to prop up the lid.
1 16 oz. Solo cup to use as a means of osmosis to get moisture to your soil.
window screen- fine mesh
small bag of organic potting soil
small bag of organic compost
small bag of Perlite
an old, or new, pair of cheap pantyhose

1)   First we will be working with the lid. start with cutting it down just a little, remove half of the lip on it.  It should fit down in the bucket about half way.  Take off a bit at a time, you can always take more off!.  In the pic below they have used a bucket bottom, we are going to trim the lid to do this.


2)  Here is a picture of what you are shooting for;  See how you will have one hole in the middle slightly smaller than the rim of one Solo cup?  Then you need one more hole to fit the piece of PVC pipe in.  Make sure you trim the bottom of the PVC at an angle or the water will not flow out effectively.

sub-irrigated-bucket BWThis picture has many cups under it, I use only three, and PVC instead of the Plastic tube shown.


3)  Get the lid just right and then let’s work on the bucket.  Check where the bucket lid comes to and drill a small hole at that point on the side of the bucket.  This is where the water will drain when you water the plant.


4)  In a separate bucket or container mix the soil, compost and Perlite in equal amounts and mound it up some.

4)  Now place the 3 Solo cups upside down in the 5 gallon bucket.  Take the panty hose and cut each leg off about 14 inches up.  Place one leg in the Solo cup and fill it with the soil mixture.  Dampen the soil, set aside.  Place the lid to the bucket on the upside down cups, slide the PVC pipe in the hole you’ve drilled for it, diagonal side down.  Use zip ties to hold the pipe straight up after drilling two small hone near the top of the bucket. Put the cup with soil in the large hole in the middle.

5)   Place the screen over the whole thing in the bucket and make it come up the side a few inches.  Place the rest of your soil in the bucket so that it comes up to about 2 inches below the rim.  Now water the soil slowly and with a sprinkler head on your water bucket. or hose.  This is the only time you will water from the soil. Normally you water into the tube until it flows out the side hole.

Picture 029Cucumbers in Grow Bucket growing up a chain.

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