Two Bucket System

The Two Bucket System consists of a bucket in which a plant can grow, plus an additional connected bucket which serves as a ‘reservoir’ or ‘controller’.  Fluid changes, aeration and other manipulations to the system can be conducted in the reservoir bucket, allowing the plant to grow undisturbed in the other bucket.

The Two-Bucket System, showing a water pump (purple) for fluid circulation and an air pump (yellow) for aeration.

While the buckets can be connected by a single piece of PVC in a non-detachable manner, I prefer to use PVC fittings to make the buckets detachable.  This facilitates cleaning and moving of the bucket system.  To connect two 5-gallon buckets together in a detachable manner:

  • Drill 1-inch holes into the buckets, about 1.5 inches above the bottom.  Use a 1-inch hole saw to make perfect circles.
  • Fit neoprene grommets (3/4-inch) into the holes.  These grommets can be purchased from Home Depot (Everbilt model # 812048, store SKU # 588739).
  • Obtain two 4-inch sections of 1/2-inch PVC pipe.  On one side of the PVC pipe, sand it down so that it has a bevel around its entire circumference.
  • Connect the non-beveled side of one of the PVC pipes into a 1/2-inch Slip x 3/4-inch MHT (Male Hose Thread) fitting (Orbit Model # 53362).  Pre-treat using Purple Primer, then glue the pieces together using PVC Pipe Cement.  Allow the glue to dry overnight.
  • Connect the non-beveled side of the other PVC pipe into a 1/2-inch Slip x 3/4-inch FHT (Female Hose Thread) fitting (Orbit Model # 53368).  Glue as described above.
  • Connect each fitting to the buckets by pushing the beveled side of the PVC pipe through the grommets.  The beveled tip will help the PVC pipe fit into the hole.  This will take quite a bit of force, and it may be helpful to lubricate the grommets using olive oil or a water-based lube.
  • Now that each bucket has an installed fitting, simply connect the male and female fittings together to form the connected bucket system.
  • Images of fittings:
Left to Right:  Grommet, PVC (showing beveled tip), MHT fitting, FHT fitting