Zero-waste seed markers, FREE containers, and buckets full of great container gardening ideas!

Container Gardening Ideas For Beginners

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Container gardening is a great way for those who lack growing space or who want to improve their growing skills to get started with gardening. We’ll show you how we’re working on our skills with a cheap and easy container garden and provide links to a boatload more resources to get you started.

Zero-waste seed markers, FREE containers, and buckets full of great container gardening ideas!

We are building our off-grid house on 16 acres, but we don’t live there full time yet. Currently, we’re living in a condo with a deck and a patio. That’s it. And while we have about 2 acres of cleared land at our property, we don’t want to plant yet because we still have some big trucks and machinery left to do some work for things like the septic field and cistern. Plus, we really want to take the time to amend our soil to prepare for a “Back-to-Eden” style garden next year, so planting in our current rocky clay soil doesn’t seem wise. Containers are perfect for us.

We’ll give you some practical ideas in this post, but stick around to the end for a big list of other resources to get you started with a container garden!

We’re practicing our growing skills in containers on our porch. We did some herbs last year, but this year we’re expanding out to some different veggies than we’ve done in the past thanks to the awesome heirloom, non-GMO seeds we got from our friends at Heaven’s Harvest.

***Heaven’s Harvest has added some awesome new product offerings and you can get some sweet discounts with my offer code. Check out my link and use offer code “hippies” at checkout.

READ MORE: Our honest review of Heaven’s Harvest Seed Kits for Prepared Homesteads

How to get containers for FREE

If you want to start a container garden but lack the funds, there is an easy, free way to get your containers and it only takes a couple of seconds!

Ask for food grade buckets at your local supermarket.

I did this at a Kroger, but it works at most any store. I walked right up to the bakery and asked if they had any extra buckets to get rid of. To my delight they said YES and brought me out about 6 buckets ranging from 2-4 gallons a piece. And later while I was shopping one of the bakery ladies literally chased me down to give me a couple more before I got away.

8 buckets. All free. All clean. All food grade.

I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge my total introversion and how hard it is to just walk up to strangers and ask for things, so if I can ask the bakery ladies for buckets on a whim, so can you!

I’d also like to acknowledge that y’all should probably eat the veggies you’ll grow in these buckets and not the frosting that came in them. YOWZAS CHECK OUT THOSE STATS:

Prepping Your Buckets


When I got the buckets they had already been washed out, but I did notice some residue and the occasional bit of blue frosting on the rims. I used some basic dish soap, water, and a sponge to clean everything off. I dried them with a towel and let them sit in the sun while I completed the next part.


Using a drill and the largest practical drill bit I could find (5/8″) I drilled five holes: one in the center and four in a circle around it.



The beauty of buckets is that you can start your seeds directly, and if the weather decides to pull a 180 and go from being 78 and sunny in February to being 30 and snowy in March, you can usually pull your buckets inside (I set mine on a long plastic sled to keep water off the floor). This may not be an option for everyone, especially if you don’t have adequate lighting or sunny windows, or if you have indoor cats and other critters who are inclined to disturb your buckets. Fortunately our cat seems to be staying away from them. The curious three-year-old boy, on the other hand? Well…lets just say the plant markers AREN’T for stirring the soil.

We went to a local store and picked up a few bags of organic potting mix. Per the advice of several people, we did not put gravel down at the bottom of the pot to promote drainage, just soil. With the drainage holes I drilled they seem to not get over-saturated. I’d like to experiment with some other self-watering setups with future buckets, but for these first four I kept it pretty basic.


Marking Your Seeds

Part of our goals include being as “zero waste” as possible. This means not creating garbage, making mindful product choices, and learning how to better reduce, reuse, and recycle the products we do buy. With this in mind, we started using bamboo toothbrushes about a year ago, even for our son! I saved a bunch of our spent brushes, removed the bristles with pliers (these aren’t recyclable in many areas unfortunately, but compared to throwing out an entire brush it’s a big reduction in waste), and kept the bamboo handles to use for projects like this. I used a marker to write the plant names on the handles and stuck them in the pots.

You can easily reuse other materials as markers including popsicle sticks, plastic silverware, paint stirring sticks (cut off the painted part if you’ve used it), and more. Get creative!

As it starts warming up, we’ll get some more buckets going to test out some more of our seeds from Heaven’s Harvest. Check out my preliminary review of them and their products here

Container Gardening Resources for Beginners (and fellow brown thumbs!)

I’m no master gardener, so I need all the help I can get! Luckily, I have some great links for you to get your container garden growing!

Five Best Container Vegetables – Brown Thumb Mama

Container Vegetable Gardening – Walkerland

Grow Bags – Northern Homestead

Growing Greens In Containers – Homestead Dreamer

Container Gardening in Small Spaces – Survival at Home

Getting Started Container Gardening

How to Farm or Garden When You Have No Land Whatsover – Heirloom Soul

Vegetables in Pots – Imperfectly Happy Homesteading

Easy to Grow Vegetables – Imperfectly Happy Homesteading


Resources for some of the plants we’ll be trying out this year (hopefully!)

Quick Guide to Growing Tomatoes – Hillsborough Homesteading

Transplanting Tomatoes to the Greenhouse – Country Living in a Cariboo Valley

Tomato Suckers – 104 Homestead

10 Things About Tomatoes – You Should Grow

Tomato Planter – Grace and Garden Homestead

Best Heirloom Tomatoes – Joybilee Farm

Harvest Lettuce So It Keeps Producing – Grace and Garden Homestead

Growing Sugar Snap Peas – Better Hens and Gardens

How To Grow Peas – The Free Range Life

Growing Eggplant – The Free Range Life


If you want to know more about our off-grid cordwood homestead project, click here. Like this content? Be sure to share it!  Join us on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram for more homesteading goodies that don’t necessarily make it to the blog. Thanks!

 Zero-waste seed markers, FREE containers, and buckets full of great container gardening ideas!



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