Planting in TubTrugs

What is a TubTrug?

TubTrugs are American made, flexible plastic containers that are a cross between a bucket and a summer handbag with two handles at the top. Or, for guys, like a grocery sack with two handles at the top.

7 gal. TubTrugs are superior to 5 gal. buckets because they are wider, have covers that make for an early season “greenhouse” effect, and they make color coding your crops easy: red tomatoes, green broccoli, purple eggplant, Blueberries, etc.

For a long time I purchased 24″ Fiskars potters, thinking them the best. But, having seen that roots of many plants don’t extend deep enough to reach the water in the tray, I’m moving to more squat pots, like 7 gal. TubTrugs.

Drill vs Antique can opener 250 DSCN0861To trust a TubTrug for veggies, I’m pretty sure it will need drainage holes. So, my first decision will have to be: Do I use my antique can opener to make the holes, or my cordless drill. Hmmm. The can opener was on my candle making table, the drill in a closet. Once I had the drill in hand, I found it was super easy to make the holes. So easy and fun I was tempted to make the TubTrug into a colander. I resisted temptation.

TubTrub 200 DSCN0864


The holes are pretty small, but I think they’ll serve their twofold purpose:

…..1. Drainage

…..2. Letting plants drink from the tray



Tray with corner of trolley showing 200 DSCN0868


For plant roots to get water from the tray, the water level has to be above the raised bit that centers Fiskars pots.

And yes, I do prefer old fashioned trays under pots to self-watering pots that take all the credit when it’s I who has to get the hose, turn on the water, etc.



Tray w Roofing Pumice 200 DSCN0870


Roofing pumice works great to raise the water level.

Pebbles would work, too, but add a little more weight.

I didn’t raise the water level in some trays because I wasn’t sure the pumice was good for the bees that like to drink from the trays.



Coir Seedstarting Mix Brick 250DSCN0880



I’m choosing to use a lot of Coir Seedstarting Mix to fill the TubTrug.

I have to wet the coir mix before adding it to the TubTrug planter or the drain holes would let the water leak out. I’m wetting it in a 3.5 gallon TubTrug.




Wetting coir seed starter 200 DSCN0873



It’s fun to place a coir brick in water and watch it expand to look like this.




12 inch sq plant caddy 200 DSCN0889



Time to get my 12 inch square plant caddy out of the box. I’ve been using these things ever since I strained my back a couple years ago when I was moving a pot. I had thought these caddies were too expensive … until I was into month two of major pain still residing in my back.



Bark Mulch filling bottom of planter 200 DSCN0896



7 gallon TubTrugs take, well 7 gallons of soil if you fill them to the top. That’s a lot of soil. So I’m reducing the amount by filling the bottom of the TubTrug with bark mulch.


TubTrug with some soil 200 DSCN0904


Having mixed Coir Seedstarting Mix with old soil, complete with a lot of worms, from my 24″ pots, I filled the TubTrug, leaving room at the top for less diluted Coir Seedstarter Mix.



Moon in Taurus 2 175I’m keen to top up with Seedstarting mix and plant, but tomorrow the moon’s in Taurus, an earth sign that’s said to be productive and moist. Second best for planting and transplanting. Good for root crops and potatoes, especially when hardiness is important. Also a good sign for leafy vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage and spinach.

My Polish grandfather gardened in the big backyard of Mr. Mainland, who, given his surname, I would guess was a Scott. Grandpa said Mr. Mainland planted by the moon. I thought that meant he went outside at night, except he’d grown too old to do it anymore. I associated Mr. Mainland having a huge backyard with the fact he planted at night and thus apparently drew in a lot of fertile land.

TubTrub w Cover 200 DSCN0908Carrots are planted and hopefully beginning to feel the warmth of the sun heating the soil in their TubTrug.

I drilled holes in the cover so that rain collecting on top of the cover will drain into the pot.

I started out with very small holes, but water surface tension kept the water from draining through.

The holes are in the middle, only, because it’s somewhat lower so water would collect there first.

4/18/2015 ~ We had several inches of snow last night. It’s melting and slowing dripping into the TubTrugs with holes in their covers.

I didn’t drill holes in covers for seeds that required shallow planting and carried a warning that I was not to let them dry out. In fact, the soil stayed far more moist without holes. But, once seedlings emerged, there was too much humidity for some of them.

Carrots 200 DSCN0964Every carrot seed I planted seems to have germinated. The seedlings, though small, look strong and healthy, unlike the tall, stringy ones I started inside.

You can see how moist the soil is from snow that melted, allowing the water to drip in through the small holes in the cover.

I made the carrot tag from seed catalog pictures sandwiched in packing tape, then clipped it to the TubTrug handle. Now I can instantly see where my carrots are, even when they’re covered.

3 Container Garden Sizes 300 DSCN0912In the final analysis, the 24″ pots take a lot more space. The 18 inch pot, second from the left in the photo, might work for peas in that the pop-up green house offers some height ~ not as much as the large pop-up green houses on the 24″ pots, but perhaps enough.

I don’t yet know how the TubTrug will work. There’s a lot of condensation on the inside of the cover. Perhaps I should have put holes in a larger area of the cover.

As a point of interest, the TubTrug, farthest to the left, is about half an inch smaller in diameter than the 18″ pot it’s standing next to.





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