Barrel Gardening Vegetables (Beginner Guide)

When living off the grid, you have to plan for your food sources. Apart from keeping your livestock for meat, egg, and milk, you can also grow vegetables.

Barrel gardening vegetables is an alternative to land preparation. With it, you can harvest just enough food for your family.

We will learn how to grow vegetables in barrels and list the best vegetable varieties.

Also, we will provide benefits of barrel gardening vegetables and present tips for even higher yields. Keep reading to catch every bit of information!

How To Grow Vegetables In Barrels

How To Grow Vegetables In Barrels

Did you know you can also use barrels for vegetable growing? Yes, it is possible to plant vegetable seedlings in barrels to harvest food to supplement your diet.

There are not so many skills or techniques required to succeed in barrel vegetable gardening. And so, you should try it.

First, Locate Where You Want

You need to strategically place your barrel container to receive maximum sunlight. Without enough light, some vegetables will not perform.

Instead, they will grow thin with yellow leaves. The chosen location should receive at least five hours of sunlight.

Try to avoid shady conditions and direct wind. Excess wind will also affect the performance of some vegetables. So, it is better if you can find a place that is not prone to strong winds.

You can also improvise the barrel to move it around if you cannot find one place with appropriate growth conditions.

Attach caster wheels to the bottom of the barrel for easy movements. Remember, you will not be able to push it around once filled with soil.

Prepare Empty Half Barrel For Gardening

Prepare Empty Half Barrel For Gardening

You need an empty barrel container where you will plant your favorite vegetables. If you do not have some empty or old wine barrels lying around, you can make your own barrels.

Most barrels are wooden, meaning they can decay when placed on the ground. To lengthen the lifespan of your barrel container, raise it up by using bricks or stones.

Drilling Several Drainage Holes In The Bottom

Vegetables perform in well-drained soil. This means you should provide drainage holes to allow water to sip through.

Before setting up your barrel on bricks or stones, turn it upside down and drill sizable holes in the bottom. You can do this with a hand drill or chisel, whichever you can easily access.

Fill Your Barrel By Add Potting Mix

Before adding the potting mix, it is advised to cover the inside of the barrel with a liner. A liner helps to reduce the amount of water needed by conserving the soil moisture.

It can also potentially increase the lifespan since there is no direct contact between the barrel and the soil inside it.

If you decide to use liners, they, too, should have holes punched through them at the bottom. You need to align these holes to the ones drilled at the bottom of the barrel earlier.

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Vegetables need a well-drained potting mix to grow well. Since your vegetables will not require the soil as deep as your barrel, fill the bottom half with packing peanuts or any other husks that will enhance drainage.

Cover the peanuts with a layer of weed mat to prevent soil from finding its way down.

Mix In Fertilizer And Then Continue Filling It With Soil

It is time to add soil that will feed your vegetables. Choose the best soil for the vegetable you want to grow and supplement nutrients with fertilizers.

Good potting soil should have at least a perlite or vermiculite mixed with it.

For soilless mixes, you need an organic soil amendment more often to give it appropriate texture and nutrients. Fill the barrel, leaving about two inches of space on top.

Sow Seeds Or Plant Seedling

You can plant seeds directly into your prepared barrel garden or prepare a seed nursery and then transplant the seedlings when ready.

Whichever the case, you need to leave appropriate spacing depending on the vegetable variety you plan to plant.

You are advised to plant around the circumference of the barrel first before considering the inside area. If possible, leave the inside part alone to offer space for growth.

Top 10 Vegetable Varieties That are Barrel-Friendly

Top 10 Vegetable Varieties That are Barrel-Friendly

Not all vegetables will give you the best yield when grown in barrels. Some varieties will perform exceptionally well, while others will struggle to cope with the conditions.

This is why it is necessary to choose the best vegetable to plant in a barrel.

You can also do mixed-cropping, however, you should choose the pair appropriately as some vegetables cannot coexist in a small space like a barrel.

The following are some vegetables with a good track record of good performance when grown in barrels:

  • Beans, Snap
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Tomatoes

Some plants will not fit in the barrel environment, and you should not even bother trying them.

Vegetables in this category possess a growth characteristic that makes the squeezed space in a barrel not become ideal for them. They include the following:

Large melons

Large melons grow very fast and require much space and a lot of water. It commended that you get at least a 5-gallon container for every large melon, which can be a challenging task.

You can have many plants grown in such a container and get better yields. Also, you might not provide the amount of water required by melons.


Corns require ample growing space and at least six hours of sunlight. These conditions make them unsuitable to be grown in barrels. However, you can just try your best, but we cannot promise you a maximum yield.

Large Pumpkins or Squash

If you have seen pumpkins grow, you can agree that they are not vegetables to be planted in barrels.

They tend to move outwards and will require space to spread the branches and sometimes support. This might not be easy to provide when grown in a barrel.

Benefits Of Barrel Gardening Vegetables

Make The Most Of Space

Barrels or container gardening makes it possible to grow vegetables even in the smallest of all spaces. Think of a balcony, patio, courtyard, rooftop, or any other small space you have around your home.

It becomes a productive garden for the vegetables your family needs when you do barrel gardening.

Less Weeding! Barrels Are Generally Low-Maintenance

Barrels reduce the labor needed to care for the vegetables. There is fewer or no weeding, fewer disease problems, fewer pesky pests, easier fertilization, and watering, among others.

Choosing to plant vegetables in barrels reduces the efforts you need to produce maximum yields.

Protection Vegetables From Heat And Frost

You can easily protect your vegetables from heat, frost, and other adverse weather conditions. The reason is that the plants are in a small area and in a portable container if you use caster wheels.

Regulating growth conditions becomes much easier and you can extend cultivation throughout the year.

Design Accent and Street Appeal

Barrel gardening is not only to produce food for the family but also to add curb appeal.

You can make your home more welcoming when you strategically place the barreled vegetables in a position where they become the focal point.

Tips For Barrel Gardening

Tips For Barrel Gardening

How do you ensure you get the best out of barrel gardening of vegetables? You have to follow some tricks and tips used by experienced growers to get a good harvest all year round.

We have also included them here to add the knowledge you need.

Barrels: The Bigger, The Better

Big barrels will offer ample space for the growth of vegetables. This also means you can grow many plants in a single barrel to ensure high yields.

Drainage Holes In The Bottom

Well-drained soil is ideal for growing different varieties of vegetables. That is why we said earlier that you need to drill drainage holes in the bottom of the barrel.

The holes allow water to drain and encourage air penetration, providing ideal conditions for the planted vegetables. So, drill the appropriate number of holes of sizeable diameter for better drainage.

Using Quality Potting Soil

The potting soil should be of high quality regarding the texture and nutrient content. It should also be well-drained and be able to provide plant nutrients in the right proportions.

You can add fertilizers if that is not the case. If possible, you can have the soil tested for pH and nutrients.

Moisture Control Potting Mix

Use Recommended Plant Combination

If you opt for mixed cropping, you need to know the vegetable varieties that perform well when grown together. This means the plants can benefit from each other and not harm each other.

The following are the recommended vegetables that can be grown together:

  • Beans, Carrots, Squash
  • Eggplant, Beans
  • Tomatoes, Basil, Onions
  • Lettuce, Herbs
  • Spinach, Chard, Onions

On the other hand, you should avoid the following combinations:

  • Beans with onions and garlic.
  • Carrots with dill or fennel.
  • Tomatoes or squash with potatoes.
  • Onions with beans and peas.

Support Your Vegetables

Some vegetables, such as tomatoes, will grow tall and topple over once they bear fruits. You need to support such plants to promote growth, fruit formation, and production of clean fruits.

Wrapping Up

Barrel gardening vegetables is a thoughtful way of ensuring that you have a steady supply of fresh vegetables that your family needs.

You might not have experience with this gardening approach but the information provided here is all you need to get started.

Just choose a location, prepare the barrel, fill it with a potting mix, and plant your favorite vegetables.

We are grateful that you stopped by the Em Offgrid to read our articles and hope you found the answers to your questions.

You are now ready to grow your vegetables. We also have other off-grid survival topics in previous posts that you can check out.