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The Three Bucketeer

The evolution of my garden has lead to several discoveries and great creations. I started out growing my veggies in buckets, primarily because I wanted to be able to adjust the layout of the garden as things developed. I also had a source for cheap buckets and according to the many of the YouTube videos that I watched, growing your food in buckets should have made a lot of sense for a 1/4 acre permaculture, self-sustaining, self-contained garden. As the garden developed, natural spaces began to form and I expanded them to utilize as much of the ground space as I could within the limited area that I had to work with.

I eventually came to believe that planting in the ground was much more productive and conducive to my BoonJon gardening system than was using buckets but I wouldn’t rule buckets out completely for other urban settings. There are so many variables. Planting in the ground led to a series of raised beds with pathways between the beds and the compost towers that lined the outside wall. Drainage became an issue early on with the heavy rain we sometimes get here in Florida. Being adjacent to the house, the pathways would become muddy and created the need for a mudroom like porch and shoe rack. This was not convenient. I resolved the issue with drainage and weeds by using granite gravel chips in the pathways. See my more detailed article (here).

Even with the gravel, the pathways had to be maintained, that is, kept free of weeds and free from dirt and compost. I raised the outside walls of the raised beds so that I could use a tiller inside the beds as well as pull weeds by hand and not get any dirt spilling out onto the gravel. But the compost towers created a different issue. I needed to find a way to get the compost out of the tower and into a wheelbarrow without spilling any of it onto the gravel. If I allowed dirt and compost to spill onto the pathway, it wouldn’t be long before weeds would took root again. I don’t want to use weedkiller at all and I don’t think it is necessary with my system. Weedkiller could possible leach into the raised beds over time and effect the vegetables that I am eating. So far the weed fabric under the gravel has prevented them from setting strong roots and they are easy to remove by hand. If worse comes to worse, I can use my hand held torch to burn them away instead of weedkiller.

I started using 5-gallon plastic buckets that I had left over from the bucket garden experiments to transport compost from the towers to the beds or wherever I needed it, and that seemed to work pretty well. I set the bucket inside the tower and then any dirt that escaped the shovel just fell back inside the walls of the tower.

But lugging the buckets from the towers to wherever wasn’t much fun. The buckets were heavy and getting old too and more than one had the handle break loose when it was full dumping the dirt all over the ground. I also had a sieve that I built and used to sift the compost to remove chunks of wood that weren’t completely composted as well as bits of concrete and rocks too. I set it on a special sawhorse and would shake it back and forth which was a lot of work. So I needed something that would do all these things combined. That is where I came up with the idea of the Three Bucketeer. It took me a while to find a suitable wheelbarrow but I did find one at Lowe’s called the Yard Rover.

My local Lowe’s has since replaced the Yard Rover with this model, the Gorilla Cart. It looks like it would work fine too but the wheels are smaller and made from cheap plastic instead of an inflatable rubber tire. I would go with the Yard Rover again. Here are some other types. (click here) Search the brands online for the best prices.

The conversion from wheelbarrow to Bucketeer was pretty straight forward. I wanted to carry as many buckets as I could. I wanted it to be narrow and easily steered between the raised beds and the compost towers and I wanted to be able to use it to sift out the compost when I got to where I needed it. I removed the Yard Rover bucket and replaced it with a wooden plywood frame with a removable screen bottom. I used the wheelbarrow bucket to replace the bucket on my old wheelbarrow which had cracked badly from hard use.

The frame of the Yard Rover is perfect for this application. It is exactly the right width to accommodate the wooden box that holds the buckets. No more no less.

The sifting screen (sieve) can be removed and leaned against something at a 45 degree angle and the dirt or compost flung against it using a shovel. The larger particles fall to the bottom outside and the finer stuff goes on the other side saving having to shake the sifter.

The sifter fits nicely in the bottom making sifting a breeze. It still requires some muscle but it is definitely easier than the sawhorse. I only have to take the handles and shake it back and forth and everything falls through fairly quickly creating a nice pile of compost below.

It is easy to carry the tools necessary to move dirt and compost and spread it around. The buckets make for quick emptying to exactly the location you need it at. No scraping the bottom of the wheelbarrow with the shovel or struggling to shake the last bit of dirt out onto the ground.

As you can see, there is plenty of room for the Bucketeer to maneuver. With the wheels located towards the middle, the turning and swing radius is very tight. Works great!

Here I am sifting the compost onto a tarp to use it in the raised bed in the background. Most places I can simply sift it out at the desired location and allow the compost to fall to the ground underneath the Bucketeer. I still plan on staining the outside to match my fencing and deck work.

In my next article on the Three Bucketeer, I will include a drawing and a materials list and I will show you exactly how I built it.

Please feel free to make constructive comments, share ideas or ask questions below. If you enjoyed this article, please share my permaculture blog site with others.

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