About Bucket Irrigation
and The Planet Whizbang
Bucket-Irrigation Hardware Kit...

By: Herrick Kimball
Updated: 3 May 2014

I grew this beautiful zucchini during the drought of 2012 with the help of an irrigation bucket! 
In Steve Solomon’s excellent book, Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times, he discusses the benefits of using a fertigation bucket too deliver a low-flow mixture of water and water-soluble fertilizing nutrients to specific plants in the garden (Click Here to read what he has written on the subject). Some other terms for fertigation are "soil drench," "root drench," and "nutrient drench." Click Here to learn about different fertigation solutions.

Solomon uses a common 5-gallon plastic bucket and drills a small hole in the side, near the bottom. The bucket is placed up next to a thirsty plant (squash, cucumber, melon, etc.) and the water flows out in a small stream. Nutrient-rich water saturates the ground and feeds the plant's roots.


I used Mr. Solomon’s idea to irrigate and fertigate several plants in my garden during the very dry growing season of 2012. I found the basic concept of irrigation & fertigation via a simple bucket to be powerfully effective.  The plants that I bucket-irrigated once a week, and fertigated once a month, thrived in the midst of the drought. I got maximum results with a minimum of water.


But I found that the Solomon fertigation bucket has its shortcomings. Once a plant gets larger it’s impossible to position the bucket up close to the central root zone. Also, a hole in the side of the bucket does not allow you to regulate the flow. These shortcomings are what led me to develop the Planet Whizbang bucket-irrigation (and fertigation) hardware kit. 


My hardware kit makes the irrigation and fertigation bucket more versatile and easier to use. Here’s a picture of the kit. It contains everything you need, except a plastic bucket.


The Planet Whizbang bucket-irrigation hardware kit consists of a brass hose-barb fitting (with rubber washer & lock nut), brass trickle valve, 40” of vinyl hose, and a 7" long loop stake.

To make your own fertigation and irrigation bucket with the Planet Whizbang kit, simply  drill a 9/16” hole in the side of a 5-gallon plastic bucket, up 1-1/4” from the bottom (if the largest drill bit you have is 3/8” or 1/2," use that and carefully enlarge the hole with a file or sharp knife).


Once you have the hole, simply insert the brass hose-barb fitting and rubber washer. Secure it with the locknut. Snug the nut down finger-tight, then lock it in place with a 1/4 turn using a wrench. Here’s what the fitting will look like from the inside.


Lock nut on hose-barb fitting, as viewed from inside the bucket.

And here's a picture of the outside of the bucket, with the fitting installed...

This blue-hued view shows the hose-barb fitting on the outside of the bucket, along with the trickle valve and loop stake. (click to see an enlarged picture)
 
Please Note: The fitting will work with any common plastic pail like shown in the picture below. It will not work on something like a plastic 55-gallon drum, which has a thicker sidewall. If you want to irrigate or fertigate with a larger capacity “bucket,” a steel drum or galvanized trash can has a thin sidewall and is therefore compatible with the Whizbang brass bulkhead fitting.


When irrigating or fertigating with a plastic pail, I like to elevate the pail on a garden stool or a smaller plastic pail turned upside down. Elevating the bucket is not a necessity, but it provides a little more water pressure.

I bucket-irrigated those cabbages when they were younger, and got them off to a great start. This picture is just to show how I set up the bucket when irrigating & fertigating.
 
The brass trickle valve is another improvement I came up with. By tightening or loosening a wingnut (by hand) you can regulate the flow of water coming out of the hose. Full flow, slow stream, or drip—all are possible by simply turning the trickle valve. 


The trickle valve, like the hose fitting, is made of solid brass. Brass is more durable than plastic and will never rust, so you can count on these parts to serve you faithfully for a lifetime of gardening

This picture clearly shows the solid brass trickle valve positioned in the loop stake. Tighten or loosen the wing nut to regulate the flow of water from a steady stream down to a steady drip.

As you can see in the picture above, the loop stake is a very handy accessory. Push it into the soil and place the hose end into the loop. The stake makes it a whole lot easier to get the water flow right where you want it, without the hose recoiling out of place.

 
If you read all the information I've packed into this web site, and then give bucket-irrigation and fertigation a try in your garden, I'm confident that you’ll be very pleased with the results. 


Click Here to order a hardware kit now.