I overlooked one minor detail when planning my garden—I didn’t think about the cost of dirt and pots. Of course, I knew I would need them, but for whatever reason I was kind of shocked when I got to the store to buy them.
Before I get too far, let’s talk pots. There are pots designed for any needs you may have for your plants. If you want something sturdy you can buy clay pots. If you’re going to frequently move your pots around a space (like I am) then you can buy plastic pots. There are fancy-pantsy painted pots for indoor plants and huge, 50 gallon, decorative rain barrel planter-urns. You can even buy self-watering planters.
One thing you always need to remember when buying pots is that no matter how long the plant lives, the pot will stay with you for a few years provided you don’t break it.
Personally, I feel this is where large home repair stores and nurseries end up cheating gardners. Many times people will justify spending a little bit more money on a decorative pot or a pot that claims to be sturdier than the average container because they know that a pot is an investment. Also, let’s face it, there are a lot of people out there who want to be really decorative and cute with their plants. Since I’m more concerned about the health of the plants rather than the pin-ability of it’s container, I just went looking for plain plastic pots.
Based on my garden design, I needed two smaller pots for my herbs, two larger pots for the veggies, and two rectangular planters for the kale. When I looked at the small pots in the garden section, the 12” x 10.95” round planters were only $5.97, but the plastic was really thin and flimsy. Any sturdier option or larger sized pot and the price would jump $5 or $10.
I knew that I wouldn’t be able to justify spending that much money on pots, not without trying to find a better option first. I walked into the main store, looking up and down the aisles when I realized they were everywhere. Bright orange Home Depot promotional painters buckets screaming at me, “LET’S DO THIS.”
A bucket makes a planter I’m thrilled to keep around. White Leaktite 5 gallon buckets are only $4.68 a piece and 2 gallon buckets are $3.85. All you have to do is take a power tool, drill 5 to 7 drainage holes in the bottom, and toss a nice layer of gravel in the bottom. Quick. Cheap. Easy.
Now to most people a few dollars per item isn’t really a big deal, but this trade-off isn’t just about the cash. First, the painters buckets are subtaintially sturdier than a pot of the same size—if you’ve ever worked on a painting project or construction site, you know these buckets can take a serious beating and keep rolling with the punches. They nest in one neat little pile for storage and have handles on the sides to move them around which is a lot easier than moving a traditional pot. Especially with the remnants of the hot summer we’ve been having, the handles have been a relief while moving the plants in and out of the shade three times a day.
Most importantly, let’s think about when SHTF and you’re regretting all of those silly decorative items around your house that don’t serve any purpose besides being cute. Even with the drainage holes in the bottom, a plastic painter’s bucket can haul, tote, cover, and hoist in a diverse range of tasks. Just off the top of my head, here are ten uses for the bucket planter after it no longer has plants in it:
- Back-up BOB
- Resting stool or stepping stool
- Use as an in-ground cooler
- Short-term potato storage
- Store first-aid supplies
- Gathering and hauling firewood
- Animal trap
- Temporary toilet (while using a trash bag as a liner)
- Collect spent brass
- Store non-perishibles like rope and paracord
The important thing is to make sure that you have a variety of planters for the needs in your garden. If you want to walk around a home improvement store and get creative with your planters, there are tons of other methods to growing plants. Just remember that all of the items in your house—even planters—should ideally be reusable for survival tasks.