container vegetable gardening

Container Vegetable Gardening

Container Vegetable Gardening 101

Container vegetable gardening is a great solution for anyone who wants organic vegetables, but doesn’t have garden space. It’s simple to go organic with container growing of vegetables, since you’re starting with the ability to create the right conditions.
vegetable container gardening
Many vegetables grow well in containers, and by choosing the right sized containers, the best soil mix and the right plants; you can grow a fair amount of food in a small space. Be warned, though, vegetable gardens in containers can be expensive if your plants don’t thrive and produce well.

 Best Conditions for Container Vegetable Gardening

1.     Choose a space for your container garden that has a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun every day.

2.     Space your containers. Plants stay healthier when they have plenty of space for air circulation.

3.     Put large containers on carts or dollies so you can move them easily, depending on the conditions.

4.     Select containers large enough to hold the adult plants, and make sure it has drainage holes. If you’re in a rainy area, make sure excess water will drain away and not sit in a tray under the container.

5.     Provide a trellis or support for vining or tall-growing plants, and use larger and heavier pots for these plants to avoid toppling.

6.     Avoid any containers made with treated wood, since the vegetables may absorb the chemicals.

 The Best Soil Mix

Container growing needs aerated and well drained soil, one that can retain moisture. One favorable mix is composed of half organic compost, one quarter peat moss and one quarter coarse material such as perlite, sand or vermiculite.  If you have good  organic garden soil, then you can substitute that for the compost component.

Soil for container gardening is not the same as garden soil, which will compact in the container and will not drain properly. Commercial potting mixes can be expensive, so blending your own can save you money.


Use an organic granular fertilizer, and mix it into the soil before you plant. Once the plants are growing strongly, add diluted fish fertilizer, compost tea or liquid seaweed every two weeks. This will give them the nutrition that’s needed to develop properly and give you a bumper crop.


container vegetable gardening

As long as it large enough and has drainage, almost anything can be used as a container for gardening. Larger planters will be much easier to maintain, keeping moist longer. I’d suggest choosing containers at least 18 inches in diameter.

Plastic, glazed ceramic or wood containers are good choices. You can even use galvanized buckets or wash tubs, plastic bins, pails, trash cans and large self-watering pots from a plant nursery. Avoid terra cotta pots, as they will draw moisture from the soil. If you’re handy, and have access to a workshop, make custom wooden containers from cedar.

 What to Plant in Your Container Vegetable Garden

Here’s my Top 8 List of vegetables to plant in containers:

1.     Tomatoes top the list – easy to grow and delicious off the vine.

2.     Potatoes – not an obvious choice, but a great way to try out different varieties.

3.     Peppers – Both sweet and hot peppers thrive in containers, with lots of sun.

4.     Salad Greens – Huge bang for your buck here, and even shallow pots will work for salad mixes.

5.     Radishes – A great early crop, since they don’t like hot weather. Good for succession planting, before you plant hot-weather plants.

6.     Cucumbers – Try the heirloom lemon cuke, crunchy and flavorful.vegetable container gardening

7.     Peas – Like radishes, these are a great early cropper. Bonus – they improve your soil by adding nitrogen.

8.     Carrots – You’ll need light soil and regular moisture, and suitable varieties are the 2 to 3 inch long miniature varieties.

 Seeds or Seedlings

One of your first decisions will be whether to buy seedlings or start your vegetable plants from seed. There are two huge advantages to starting from seed. The first is price. The second is that you can grow varieties that are hard to find, or that are specifically suited to container growing.

You can sow seeds into your vegetable container gardens, or you can sow seeds indoors, usually in late winter or early spring, depending on where you live and the kinds of seeds you are planting.

Looking for more information?

Anyone can begin container vegetable gardening.  Get started with yours this year; start small or be adventurous, and above all, have fun with it.




Leave a Comment: