Buckets are simple tools, but they are more versatile than most people think. That’s a blessing, because houses tend to accumulate a collection of them over time. There’s no reason not to put those accumulated buckets to good use, and there are plenty of different ways to do that in the average household.
Plastic buckets make a wonderful substitute for flower pots. The simplest way to use them is to fill them with dirt and throw a few seeds on top, but there are several alternatives. People who are willing to put in some extra work and add a few extra parts can use buckets to provide the structure for a hydroponic system.
It’s important to choose plants carefully when planting them in buckets. If the root structure gets too big, it will either break through the bucket or cripple the plant because it cannot spread out far enough. Flowers and most herbs are excellent choices. Plenty of other plants can also work in a bucket, but you do need to check to see if each species is suitable for container gardening before you get started.
You can also use buckets to make compost to support a traditional garden. A standard system requires three buckets, one of which should have a lid. Start by drilling holes in the bottom of two of the buckets. They should be large enough to allow worms to pass through them easily, usually with a diameter of 3/16ths of an inch. Drill a line of smaller holes near the top of each bucket to ensure sufficient airflow, and a lot of similar holes in the lid.
Put one of the buckets with holes in the bottom inside the bucket that does not have holes. Add some moist, shredded newspaper and food scraps to the bucket, then add a population of worms. Put the lid on top and wait, adding food regularly. Once the worms finish composting in their bucket, add the third one on top with more food and newspaper. The worms will migrate, and you can harvest the compost and liquid that they leave behind.
Cats love to curl up in small spaces. If you leave a bucket out in the open, you’re likely to find your cat in it whether you intended to use it as a cat bed or not. Since your cat is likely to claim a bucket anyway, you may as well make sure that the bucket is comfortable.
You can start by adding some padding, but the most useful improvement will be anchoring your bucket to the floor or the wall to make sure that the cat doesn’t knock it over and send it rolling while it climbs in. Try to place it somewhere that will get sun to maximize your cat’s comfort. If you want to make your cat particularly happy, rub some catnip into the bucket every few days to make it even more appealing.
Bucket Washing Machines
It can be a good idea to convert a bucket into a muscle-powered washing machine as a backup for times when the power goes out. Start with a bucket that comes with a cap that fits on it tightly and a plunger. Drill a hole in the middle of the cap that is just big enough for the plunger’s handle, then drill about a dozen small holes in the plunger itself.
To use the washer, fill it with soapy water about halfway up the height of the bucket, then add your clothes. Be sure not to add too many. They need enough room to move around in the water without clogging the system. Once it is loaded, put the cap on and start using the plunger. That will move the clothes around just like the motor in an electric washing machine. Plunge for a few minutes, rinse the clothes, and hang them up to dry.
Always be flexible when you’re looking for ways to use your buckets. They can provide a solid frame for almost any project, so you’ll never run out of uses for them. If you ever find yourself needing a small, rounded container, you should consider using an old bucket. They will often do the job, and it saves money by recycling a tool that you already have lying around the house.