Over time I have explored different gardening methods. Ruth Stout and her no till method, Larry Hall and his Rain Gutter Gardening System and my favorite Eliot Coleman winter gardening. And of course, there is always Monty Don.

In the beginning…

I had moved my garden to a new spot and was building soil. We have glacier till. Basically we have rocks, and lots of them. We could leave a hose running all day and never make a puddle. The lack of water retention was a huge issue.

My research into building soil and water retention lead me to Ruth Stout. It makes sense to me to keep the soil covered. It also helps hold in water.

It was ok, but the quack grass was difficult to control. Plus, I love working the soil. It is how my soul keeps balanced. I went back to hauling more manure in and building soil the old fashioned way, the way that fed my soul. This is about 2007.

Water in the west is always an issue and at this time climate change was starting to get my attention. How to have a garden and conserve water? It takes so much water to garden in glacier till.

Rain Gutter Gardening System

My research this time led me to Rain Gutter Gardening Systems. Larry Hall had a very interesting idea – and I loved it! Let the plants take up water as they need it. I tried his method in several ways. Rain gutters, 4 in pipe and 3 in pipe in my greenhouse. Keeping the pipes level and mosquitoes out took the fun out of this method. His method required a specific soil, which was expensive to set up.

Wall – 3″ Rain Gutter Gardening System
5 Gallon Buckets on the Floor

We created a great garden wall in the greenhouse – and then learned about plants having to much water. Plants that are in individual containers require to much attention. I have since moved the garden wall into 8″ pvc pipe which I hand water. Again, the hand watering is my time to visit with my plants. We can set up a quick drip irrigation system if we wanted.

The Rain Gutter Gardening System may work great for others but I was ready to try something different. There had to be a better way. I started to consider different options.

Bucket Gardening System

A friend gave me some nutrient buckets. What’s nutrient bucket? Basically a 45 gallon tub. No holes in the bottom. Ours come in two colors, black and blue. I wondered how my plants would do in this environment. In the video above he uses red buckets, basically the same thing.

It combines the things I love about the Rain Gutter Gardening System and removes some of the things I disliked about it. This is my current method (2021).

There are plants that do not work well in the buckets, at least not for me. I still have a ‘normal’ garden where I plant in the soil. But I am adding more and more buckets over time.


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