You don't have to make sauerkraut if you don't want to. People get all nuts about pounding it to get the juices out. You don't need to get all dogmatic about it. You can put pretty much any vegetable in there, add salt (or salt water) and get something tasty. I recently made a batch of summer squash pickles (zucchini and some yellow squash). It's delicious.
I have a 3 gallon crock + a glass plate that just barely fits inside the crock. I weigh it down with a mason jar filled with water. You don't need the expensive crocks, unless you really want them.
Poke it quickly, with a stick.