How to Grow Cucumbers in a 5-Gallon Bucket

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There's nothing as refreshing as sinking your teeth into a home-grown, crisp cucumber on a hot summer day. Growing cucumbers is rewarding, but they have a reputation for requiring space to roam and attracting pests. If you don't have a large garden, you can grow cucumbers in a 5-gallon bucket. This inexpensive approach to container gardening has the added benefit of keeping your cucumber plants away from hungry rodents. Make a quick run to the home supply store and add these healthy veggies to your patio garden in a snap.

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Choosing Cucumber Plants and Containers

Cucumber plants need space to thrive, so plan to grow one plant per bucket. Bush or dwarf varieties that do not vine are best suited for containers. Look for cucumbers with "bush" in the name, or read the description on the plant label or seed packet. You can choose a vining variety instead if you plan to situate your bucket in a sunny spot next to a fence or trellis for support.

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Five-gallon buckets are typically found at home supply stores in the paint or cleaning aisle. You can also clean and reuse a leftover 5-gallon food bucket from a restaurant. Any color is suitable, but keep in mind that dark colors will warm up more in the sun. Cucumbers prefer soil temperatures around 70 degrees, so a dark bucket is a good choice for cooler climates.

Things You'll Need

How to Grow Cucumbers in a 5-Gallon Bucket

Step 1: Drill Drainage Holes

Turn over your 5-gallon bucket and drill six to eight 1/2-inch diameter drainage holes through the bottom. Drill slowly to avoid cracking the plastic.

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Step 2: Add Mulch

Fill the bottom of the bucket with 3 to 4 inches of coarse pine bark mulch or pine bark nuggets to allow for good drainage.

Step 3: Add Potting Soil

Fill the remainder of the bucket with a high-quality potting soil. Tap the bucket on the ground a few times to help the soil settle. The soil should come to about an inch from the top of the bucket.

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Step 4: Plant Cucumber Seeds

If you are sowing seeds, press two seeds about an inch into the soil in the center of the bucket. If both seeds germinate, the weakest seedling can be thinned out later. If you are planting a seedling, dig a hole in the center of the soil and place the plant so that the first set of leaves is just above the soil.

Step 5: Water Thoroughly

Place the bucket in an area that receives full sun. Soak the soil with water until it flows out the bottom drainage holes. Always water the soil without wetting the leaves, which can scorch in the sun.

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Step 6: Maintain and Care for Your Plants

Monitor the soil moisture and water when dry, adding fertilizer after one to two weeks (if your potting soil already contains fertilizer, follow the instructions on the package). Containers often dry out and lose nutrients faster than garden soil.

Step 7: Harvest Your Cucumbers

Harvest the cucumbers once they reach a mature length and before they begin to ripen. Read the information listed on the plant label or seed packet to determine the typical length of the variety planted.

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