Cylinder Gardening

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Download the Cylinder Gardening Lesson for more details.

A big gardening program…in a little garden space. Cylinder Gardening uses bottomless cylinders (1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket) as small, individual gardens for growing vegetables. Perfect for schools with limited growing space and poor soil, cylinder gardens require little land and minimal pre-gardening preparation or experience. Once the cylinders are filled and planted, the only labor is minor maintenance, watering and harvesting. Recommended plant varieties mature from seed in 30 to 90 days to fit within one school semester. After harvest, removal of the garden is quick and clean. Just place plant debris in a compost bin, pick up the cylinders to store for next year and spread the potting mix over the soil.

Cylinder Gardening was developed under the leadership of Men's Garden Club of Houston, The Leadership Center, the Harris County Master Gardener Association, and the Harris County Office of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. It is currently offered by the Harris County Master Gardeners through the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Houston, Texas. Educators in Harris County can apply to receive free cylinders, seeds, and fertilizer. The group has also created a six lesson Teacher’s Guide to help educators incorporate the gardening program into their curriculum. Although the garden supply distribution is limited to Harris County, for more information about the program, educators can send an e-mail to the Cylinder Gardening Committee e-mail at [email protected].

Experience has shown that growing vegetables is a wonderful way to get kids excited about eating them. You might be surprised by all the produce that can be grown in half of a bucket. The table below shows a list of some crops and specific varieties that have worked well in Houston where the project was developed:

Beans: Contender, Greencrop, Derby, Topcrop
Beets: Pacemaker III, Detroit Dark Red, Green Top
Broccoli: Packman, Green Comet, Green Duke
Cabbage: Greenboy, Early Jersey, Wakefield, Ruby Ball, Rio Verde, Savoy Hybrid
Carrots: Danvers 126, Nantes, Red Core, Short n' Sweet, Chantenay
Corn: Seneca, Pronto, Early Sunglow, Spirit Hybrid, How Sweet It Is
Cauliflower: Snow Crown, Snow King, Majestic
Chard: Fordhook, Vulcan, Rhubarb, Ruby Red
Cucumbers: Sweet Slice, Poinsett, Burpless, Su yo, Pot Luck
Lettuce: Salad Bowl, Buttercrunch, Ruby Red, Red Sail
Kale: Dwarf Blue Curled
Kholrabi: Purple Vienna, Early White Vienna
Onion: Y1015, Grano, Granex
Parsley: Italian Dark Green, Paramount, Triple Curled
Peas: Sugar Bon, Oregon Sugar Pod, Little Sweeties, Snowflakes
Peppers: (Bell) Gypsy, Big Bertha, Juniper; (Sweet) LaParia, Yellow Banana
Potato: Red Lasoda, Kennebec
Radish: Cherry Belle, Champion, White Icicle, Flamboyant
Spinach: Early Hybrid 7, Melody, Bloomdale, Long Standing
Squash: Saffron Prolific Straight Neck, Zucchini Black Beauty
Tomato: Carnival, Celebrity, Dona, President
Turnips: Tokyo Cross, Purple Top, White Globe, Royal Globe, Shogoin


This program is an excellent example of what can be accomplished with limited space, time and funding. Download the Cylinder Gardening Lesson for more details.

MarchKGNCylinderGardening.pdf410.11 KB

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