Episode-634- Container Gardening for the Modern Survivalist — 22 Comments

  1. jack,

    this is my first year garden. i started with containers i made from blue plastic barrels. i cut one into the shape of a half moon, and the other i cut into rings. the rings are working better than the half moon. and i didnt spend a dime on them

  2. Wow, was that loaded with information! I’ll be listening to this one over and over even though we do have a big garden space, the knowledge about container gardening is a must have for everyone.

  3. Thanks Jack, another great podcast! You reminded me of some videos I found on YouTube last year of two teenage kids in CA who converted the entire roof of their apartment building into a huge self-watered container garden. I’ll find them again and send them.

    The cool thing these kids did was to plumb a string of containers together with clear plastic tubing. Since water seeks it’s own level, all they had to do was fill the bucket on the end of the row, and all the containers got topped off simultaneously! They used a rain collection barrel with a valve, then just opened the valve once or twice a week.

    Great job again! Now you can start a ton of plants in Texas to haul to Arkansas!


  4. When I lived in a townhouse this was where we went with our gardening. Such a popular topic – thanks for the useful (as usual) info.

  5. Yesterday I finally got my order from Raintree Nursery (thanks for telling us about it, Jack). Between that and an order from another nursery last fall, I now have 12 trees (most mini-dwarf), 9 berry bushes and 50 strawberry plants.

    Where are they all? In pots! When we finally move onto our rural homestead less than 3 yrs from today, no way am I leaving all those babies behind!

  6. Great show once again.

    I would love for you to point out for us more of WHAT NOT to grow together ~ I.E. never peas and onions and other veggie dos and dont’s and herbs…and the same the fruit trees together.


    Jonah of Long Beach

  7. Jack,
    As usual, awesome show. I variety of tomato that I grew in a large pot last year that worked really well was “Silvery Fir Tree”. It has a bush habit, so it only get about 24″-30″ high. It has beautiful, feathery, fern-like leaves, so it would look good somewhere public. It’s bred for a short growing season, so it will grow well just about anywhere. And last year it produced more tomatoes for its size than just about any of the other varieties that I grew. I got my seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. Thanks for all your hard work.
    – Mike Lorenz
    St.Louis, MO

  8. With self-watering containers, you need to be aware that the salt content of the soil can build up over time. This is less of a problem if you use rainwater rather than tap water.

  9. Hey Jack,
    Trying to get caught up on the podcasts and just got to listen to this one.
    Man! This was good!
    I have been gardening for years and last year I decided to teach myself how to grow in 5 gal buckets. Watering was THE big problem. This podcast has solved that problem.
    This year I have a “student” who wants me to show them how its done. What an honor. Now I can help them be successful.

    Side note, my Paypal fouled up and didn’t keep up my MSB payments. I’ll correct that shortly. Its on my end.
    Rock on Jack.
    Ben (HoC)

  10. Jack! This was an awesome podcast! And talk about timing! I posted a few shows back, about the Earthbox and the How-To video I did. Its now up on YouTube. I hope it can help some of you guys out there get started container gardening or improve on what you’ve got going. I was so stoked to hear you doing a show that is so well suited for us apartment dwellers!

    Anyway…if you guys are interested check out my YouTube Channel at Let me know what you think!

    Thanks Jack!


  11. Good show, I have a question if you take a container and fill it up half way with wood chips and the rest of the way with dirt is that considered hugelculture?

  12. Anyone have suggestions on how to “pretty up” 5 gal buckets? My wife doesnt want them on the deck cause they are ugly, but they are cheaper then pots and i like the self water setup the kids in CA set up.

  13. BOB, one thing i have done in the past in painted the bucket a nice forest green to match my shrubs, you could paint the bucket the same color as your porch. If you plan to do it long term you can make a small ceder box that the bucket drops in to. Mght be a touch expensive but it would look great. Think stop sign rather than square, with a flat lip lid to set on top to hide the bucket rim. If it keeps the women folk happy it keeps the men happy 😉

  14. You could also build a long beautiful wooden “planter box” that they just fit into. You could even plumb the buckets with interconnected pipes and only have to water in one spot per group.

  15. Jack – a consideration for those who choose to go the route of the -large- containers and rooftop locations: Roof tops aren’t typically made to take a large concentrated load, so if you plan to put a large container on a roof, try to position it directly over either a column (industrial building) or a bearing wall (apartment building). That way you’re adding the least amount of “moment arm” (leverage) to the force gravity exerts on your container. Obviously not an issue with the typical 5-gal bucket, but the kiddie pools once filled with soil and saturated with water might be enough to warrant more careful positioning.

  16. Not quite container gardening, but I’ve been meaning to post this ever since the irrigation elimination episode. I thought it was funny you mentioned the tomato when talking about root shock for transplants. There is actually a really cool method for growing tomatoes that blows direct seeding out of the water for both irrigation and plant growth / production.

    Basically you seed a small container the way you would normally start a transplant, but you do it about 2 months earlier than you normally would. When you have a plant that is out growing the first pot and is nice and tall, you replant it at the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket and add soil up to almost the top of the plant. Then you let that grow until it is good and tall and the frost is over (you snip blossoms off as they appear during this phase). Then you dig a trench about half as deep as the 5 gallon bucket is wide and about as long as the plant and bucket are tall, and then bury most of the plant sideways so that you have long mound of soil and a little tomato plant poking out one end.

    Each time you move the plant there is some root shock, but the section of plant that you bury forms virgin roots again. And when you plant it the last time, you have a few feet of plant that will form virgin roots to feed a single plant, and the initial root system is near the surface where it gets the most heat from the sun.

  17. Jack,
    I’m not sure if it was this podcast or one of the next ones with call-in questions, but the question came up whether the Rubbermaid Roughneck totes (used for the self-watering plant setups) are BPA-free or not. I submitted a query to the Rubbermaid website and got a response that the tubs are definitely BPA-free and thalalate-free, so there’s no worry about those particular hormone-mimicking compounds in your plants. They did, however, state clearly that their Roughneck tubs are NOT certified as food-safe containers.

    (Go to the FAQ tab)