Vegetable Container Gardening Tips

If you don't have room for a garden, or only want to grow a few vegetables, containers are the best way to go.

Container Garden

Container Garden

Photo by: Anne Kitzman / Shutterstock.com

Anne Kitzman / Shutterstock.com

Materials Needed

  • containers of various sizes
  • sterilized potting soil
  • shovel
  • trowel
  • drip or hose irrigation
  • fertilizer

Step 1: It's All in the Pot

When selecting a container, remember that bigger is better as far as ease of maintenance and size of harvest. Half whiskey or wine barrels or similar-sized pseudo terra-cotta containers are large enough to accommodate vegetables such as large tomatoes, eggplant, and squash, with room to spare for companion plantings of smaller choices such as carrots and lettuce. Five-gallon containers can hold dwarf tomatoes, peppers, beans, and many small leafy greens. A window box is even large enough to grow radishes and arugula.

Step 2: And the Soil

For proper drainage, containers need to have holes in the bottom. Also, use only sterilized potting soil. Garden soil may contain diseases and may not be well drained. Because you're planting in such a small space, you'll have to be very conscious of watering and fertilizing regularly. Water with drip irrigation or by hand whenever the soil is dry 4 to 6 inches deep.

Step 3: Fertilize Regularly

Fertilize every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer for vegetables, or add controlled-release fertilizer at planting time, supplemented with a water-soluble fertilizer when needed. For large containers, mulching with straw or bark conservs moisture.

Step 4: Best Plant Combinations

Containers allow you to plant combinations that are both edible and attractive. For example, try creating a salad container with different colors of leaf lettuce, a bush cucumber, a dwarf patio-type tomato, and even herbs such as parsley. How about a tomato sauce barrel with a tomato plant in the center, herbs such as oregano and basil on the sides, and onions interplanted between the herbs? Or a root crop roundup container with beets, carrots, radishes, onions, and parsnips in a foot-deep container? To save space, consider growing some plants up. Choose pole beans over bush beans, and trellis them along the back of a container. This leaves space in front to plant other vegetables.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Tips for Growing Container Tomatoes

Use this 12-step program for growing success.

18 Container Gardening Tips

Try these tricks of the trade to make your containers shine.

Growing Fruit Trees in Containers

Master gardener Chris Dawson shares these tips for growing fruit trees in pots.

Pumpkin Growing Tips

Follow our easy-grows-it tips to take the guesswork out of growing everyone’s fall favorite: pumpkins.

Orchid-Care Tips

They're not as touchy as you've heard. Here's what to look for and how to care for them.

Growing Tomatoes in Containers

It’s possible to grow any kind of tomato in a container, but it’s important to match the size of the pot to the size of the plant.

Tomato Growing Tips

There’s just no matching the juicy succulence of a homegrown tomato.

Container Gardening: Anchor Containers with Evergreens

Move beyond annuals and fill your containers with durable evergreens.

Create a Stunning Herb Container Garden

Make it easy to snip a handful of fresh herbs while you're cooking — keep this fragrant herb garden on the deck or patio.

Growing Pumpkins in Containers

Raise a crop of pumpkins on a deck or patio—with no garden bed in sight. Learn how to grow pumpkins in pots no matter where you live.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.