How To Vegetable Garden In Containers


GROWING IN CONTAINERS


When you think of container gardening (growing plants in containers rather than in the ground), probably what first comes to mind is flower gardening.

However, more and more people are beginning to grow their own food but with so many of us being urbanites, the question arises "how can we plant vegetable gardens without any wide open spaces?"

The answer is planting a garden using containers. It's relatively inexpensive to do and you'd be surprised at how easy most vegetables are to grow.

All you need is the proper equipment, the seeds or plants for what you want to grow in your garden, and then some tender loving care as your plants emerge, thrive and bear fruit...or in this case, vegetables!

Let's look at some of the methods for planting vegetables in containers and then take a look at what vegetables need what to grow the best.

From herbs to squash to pumpkins, you can grow just about anything in a container and be a success at it. The key is knowing what you need, putting it all together and then caring for it properly.




VEGETABLE GARDENING IN CONTAINERS


When you decide that you want to plant a vegetable garden and grow your garden in containers, the first thing you'll need to do is select what you want to grow.

Next, you'll need to decide if you want to start your vegetable garden for the containers using seeds you start yourself or if you want to buy already established plants for your container vegetable garden.

If you decide to start your own seeds, allow 4-8 weeks extra to allow them to germinate inside or in a greenhouse before they are ready for transplant. A few seeds such as peas or beans you can plant directly in containers almost anywhere but the temperature has to be appropriate for planting.

In warmer climates, you can also start seeds directly in containers for many vegetables. Make sure to check what you buy to determine each vegetable's hardiness to your specific climate.

If you've started seeds yourself, allow them to have sprouted at least 1 or 2 sets of leaves before transplanting and then do not put the seeds (or even plants from the nursery) outside immediately. Rather, put your vegetable container gardens outside for several hours per day and increase that daily until they have "hardened" to the temperature changes.

Be sure to water daily but don't drown your plants or they won't do well. See below for recommended soil mixtures and fertilization schedules and components.


What To Plant In What Size Container- Container Gardening Ideas

VEGETABLE
SIZE OF CONTAINER NEEDED
PLANTS PER CONTAINER
Broccoli
2 gallon
1 plant
Carrot
1 gallon
2-3 plants
Chard
1-2 gallon
1 plant
Cucumber
1 gallon
1 plant
Dwarf Tomato
1-2 gallon
1 plant
Eggplant
5 gallon
1 plant
Green Beans
2 gallon minimum
Space 3" apart
Green Onion
1 gallon
3-5 plants
Leaf Lettuce
1 gallon
2 plants
Parsley
1 gallon
3 plants
Peppers
5 gallon
1-2 plants
Radishes
1 gallon
3 plants
Spinach
1 gallon
2 plants
Squash
5 gallon
1 plant
Tomato
5 gallon
1 plant
Turnips
2 gallon
2 plants

Containers for Vegetable Gardening

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Glazed ceramic potsWood boxes - you can make your own with cedarThese go on railings - excellent for herbsRelatively inexpensive, very porousMetal pots just need holesUse landscape liner or cloth to hold dirtTerracottaFake stone long potsWhiskey barrels
Glazed ceramic pots
Glazed ceramic pots
Wood boxes - you can make your own with cedar
Wood boxes - you can make your own with cedar
These go on railings - excellent for herbs
These go on railings - excellent for herbs
Relatively inexpensive, very porous
Relatively inexpensive, very porous
Metal pots just need holes
Metal pots just need holes
Use landscape liner or cloth to hold dirt
Use landscape liner or cloth to hold dirt
Terracotta
Terracotta
Fake stone long pots
Fake stone long pots
Whiskey barrels
Whiskey barrels


GROWING IN CONTAINERS


No matter what you're growing in containers, your success will be directly related to what containers you choose. Selecting the right container is the single most important decision you will need to make after you've decided what you want to grow.

That said, there are many options for vegetable container gardening.

  • Bushel baskets
  • Laundry baskets
  • Drums
  • Tubs
  • Buckets
  • Wooden boxes
  • Terracotta
  • Barrels
  • Any number of commercial containers
  • Bags
  • Trash cans
  • Old tires
  • Old toys
  • Basically anything that you can drill holes in and will hold dirt


NON-POROUS AND POROUS CONTAINERS FOR VEGETABLE GARDENING


Containers can be classified as non-porous and as porous. Non-porous containers are perfectly fine to use with the caveat that watering needs to be watched carefully as non-porous containers can dry out quickly. Non-porous containers also need more drainage.

Examples of non-porous containers would be:

  • Glazed pots
  • Plastic pots
  • Metal pots
  • Glass pots

TIP: It is best to drill or poke drainage holes in the sides of container gardens as well as drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Place several inches apart around the sides about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the bottom of pots to increase drainage.

Soil for Container Vegetable Gardens

Source


GROWING IN CONTAINERS RECIPES FOR CONTAINER SOIL



After deciding what you want to grow and then deciding on your containers, the next most important thing you can do is make sure you use the best soil for the job.

There are many commercial brands out there that will do the trick such as Jiffy Mix, Bacto, Promix, Jiffy Pro and Miracle Gro to name a few.

However, as in most things, you can also create your own soil mixes that will accomplish the same end. There are 2 different kinds of soil mixes recommended for vegetable container gardening.

  • Soilless mixes (light mix that needs water to reduce dust)
  • Soil mixes


HOW TO MAKE A SOILLESS MIX FOR CONTAINER VEGETABLE GARDENING


Mix together:

  • 1 bag of horticultural grade vermiculite (1 bushel package)
  • 1 bag of peat moss (1 bushel package)
  • 10 tablespoons of limestone
  • 5 tablespoons of superphosphate
  • 1 cup garden fertilizer (6-12-12 or 5-10-10)

Mix with a little water to reduce dust. Also wet this mix before seeding or transplanting into.


HOW TO MAKE A SOIL MIX FOR CONTAINER VEGETABLE GARDENING


Mix in equal parts

  • 1 bag of sphagnum peat moss or compost (or combination of both)
  • 1 bag of pasteurized soil
  • 1 bag of vermiculite or perlite
  • 1/2 bag of composted cow manure or chicken manure

TIP: Soil mixes hold water better than soilless mixtures so keep that in mind when watering.

You can also buy commercial ready-made mixes that will suit any kind of container vegetable gardening.

Make sure you read the label though to be sure that the soil mix has the adequate nutrients for the vegetables you plan to plant.

Seeding Vegetables for Containers

Source
Peat pellets that expand to hold seeds
Peat pellets that expand to hold seeds
Source


VEGETABLE GARDENING IN CONTAINERS - SEEDING VEGETABLES


Seeding your plants is easy to do but keep in mind you'll want to start out 4-8 weeks before actually putting your plants outside in containers.

You can germinate seeds in many different ways. Fill seeding container, add seeds according to specifics and then cover seeds with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of seeding medium.

For instance:

  • Use a cake pan
  • Milk cartons make great seed trays
  • Peat pellets - no muss and no fuss
  • Peat pots
  • Plastic tray lined with landscape cloth or screen
  • Pots

TIP: Cover seeds with clear plastic sack or wrap to enhance germination. Keep moist but do not over-water. When seedlings start to sprout, feed with a fertilizer mixture to grow healthy, sturdy plants. Also give them a "plain water flush" (leave out fertilizer) once per week.

Fertilizers for Container Vegetable Gardens

Source


FERTILIZER FOR GROWING VEGETABLES IN CONTAINERS


There are many commercial fertilizers such as those pictured that work really well for vegetable gardens in containers. Some of the ones I've used that I recommend are Miracle Gro, Osmocote, Peters and fish emulsion.

Look for fertilizers with the following breakdowns for the best success:

  • 14-14-14
  • 20-20-20
  • 15-30-15

Some are time release and can be added when you first mix your soil and begin planting your transplanted seedlings or new starts you've purchased at the nursery.

You can also make your own nutrient mixture for your vegetable garden containers.

Mix together:

  • 2 cups fertilizer (10-20-10 or 12-24-12 or 8-16-8)
  • 1 gallon of warm water

This makes a concentrate that will last for a long time.

Mix 2 tablespoons of this concentrate with 1 gallon of water.

Use the nutrient solution on your seedlings once the plants emerge.

Then use the nutrient solution the day that you transplant your starts or seedlings.

Once a week, water with no nutrient solution to leach the soil (plain water flush).


Plants for Growing in Containers

Click thumbnail to view full-size
LettuceStrawberriesArugulaPeppersCucumbersParsleyPurple sageTomatoesBasilSageItalian parsley
Lettuce
Lettuce | Source
Strawberries
Strawberries | Source
Arugula
Arugula
Peppers
Peppers
Cucumbers
Cucumbers
Parsley
Parsley
Purple sage
Purple sage
Tomatoes
Tomatoes
Basil
Basil
Sage
Sage
Italian parsley
Italian parsley


HOW TO GROW VEGETABLES IN CONTAINERS


Now that we've covered all the prep work, containers, the soil and fertilizers, there are a few important points to consider when growing in containers.

  • Make sure the container fits the vegetable and will allow for root growth. Herbs and things like lettuce or spinach do not need as deep a pot as a squash or a carrot for instance.
  • Try not to get the foliage wet when you water the vegetables as they grow.
  • Water daily but in extreme hot weather, check to see if they don't need a rewater. Test soil by putting your finger into the soil. If it feels dry, it needs to be watered.
  • Drainage is essential. Adding 1 inch of fine gravel in the bottom of your container vegetable gardens will increase drainage, even if you have adequate drainage holes around the sides.
  • Mulch the tops of your container gardens regularly to prevent water loss.
  • Move the vegetable container gardens if necessary to get the right amount of light.
  • Never reuse soil. Dump it out in another area of the garden after using but don't try to regrow vegetables in used soil.
  • Use hydrogels sold commercially to retain water.
  • Cover plants at night if frost is a possibility - tarps, plastic, or even sheets work.

TIP: Mulch can be compost you make yourself, commercially prepared compost, grass clippings, chipped bark, pine needles, bark, straw, etc.


Sun and Shade Plants for Vegetable Container Gardens

PART-SUN/SHADE TOLERANT
ROOT VEGGIES (SUN)
FRUIT BEARING (TOTAL SUN)
Lettuce
Radishes
Cucumbers
Spinach
Beets
Peppers
Chard and other greens
Turnips
Tomatoes
Cabbage
Carrots
Eggplant
Parsley and other herbs
Onions
Watermelon
Source


VEGETABLES GROWING IN CONTAINERS



As you can see, there are many ways that you can plant a vegetable garden even if you don't have lots of space.

You can plant vegetables in containers just about anywhere and you can grow as many different vegetables as you have room and time to care for.

Hanging baskets also make wonderful container gardens for things like cherry tomatoes or strawberries. I plan to ditch my hanging flower baskets this year and plant these 2 practical items instead!

The most important things to remember when you plant your vegetable container gardens is to select seeds or plant starts that are indigenous to where you live, select the proper sized container, and then use the appropriate soil mix to give your plants the best start possible.

Then remember to water and fertilize at regular intervals, make sure the plants have adequate drainage and the right amount of sun.

Protect your plants as necessary with eco-friendly products should they develop any pests or diseases and you should see a pleasing yield for your "farming" efforts.

Growing vegetables in containers is a fun way to dig in the dirt and feel like you're gardening because in fact you are! It's also a great way for kids to participate in gardening and to learn about how plants grow.

Make it a family project today and see if you don't agree that vegetable gardening in containers is a great solution for today's world.

If you have more helpful suggestions on how to grow vegetables in containers, please leave them in the comments section below. In the meantime, happy gardening!


What's Wrong With My Plants?

SYMPTOM
CAUSE
REMEDY
Spindly, tall, not producing
Needs more light
Move to receive more light
 
Needs less nitrogen
Reduce nutrient feeding interval
Yellowing from bottom, poor color
Too much water
Check for drainage/water less
 
Not enough fertilizer
Increase fertilizer level in solution
Wilting though enough water
Poor drainage or aeration
Increase drainage holes
 
 
Use more organic matter in soil
Burning of leaves
Too much salt in soil or water
Leach container with tap water
Plants stunted, sickly, off color
Low temperature
Relocate container to warmer spot
 
Low phosphate
Increase phosphate in solution
Holes in leaves, misshapen leaves
Insects
EPA-friendly insecticide
Leaves with spots, powder or rust
Plant diseases
Remove spots found
 
 
Use EPA-friendly fungicide

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Comments 42 comments

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks, Nif--I had to forego mine this year because of my resident pests..my malamutes--at 1 year old, it's about as possible to do anything in terms of growing in containers as it is to fly to the moon--I'm hoping by next summer her brain has arrived and it's actually in place in her skull--and will try then! This year she just toasted everything I attempted to start so decided I'd give her another year to hopefully grow up~~~~


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

A great selection of information on growing vegetables in containers! I will refer back to your useful table for numbers of plants in a pot when I start planning next-year's productive balcony garden. Thank you!


rbm profile image

rbm 4 years ago

Really useful article, and very well put together. Outstanding job!


carcro profile image

carcro 5 years ago from Winnipeg

Really great info here, with our cold winters, this will really come in handy. Even for outside in the summer, I find with all the hungry little critters around, its best to plant in Pots as they tend to leave those plants alone. Thanks for sharing. Rated Up and Interesting!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Cool - I live for weekend projects~


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Thank you - and I'll be sure to tell Lorlie thanks from you:). I had several patio containers growing last year - then I realized my dogs thought they were for them and would climb up in them and lie there! Haha!

Good luck with your gardening too! I've decided to make a little weekend project out of this hub to do with the kids!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

RealHousewife - Thanks so much for stopping by and tell Lorlie thanks from me, too. I have so many containers because of my dogs but think I've used ALMOST every inch of space I can this year for beets, herbs and potatoes. Hoping to get some squash and tomatoes too although the weather this year so far has been more conducive to cold weather vegetables! Good luck whatever you plant!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

What a beautiful hub! Lorlie said I had to check out your hubs - she was so right. I couldn't decide what to look at first. This is so impressive. I have grown vegetables in containers it is so sensible. I cook a lot and I spend a small fortune on herbs, spices and vegetables. I love the photographs and had never thought of using some of the containers you suggest. I want to run out right now and get some and start a new one this year after reading this:)


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Vocalcoach - Oh I'm so glad~~! I am going great with my potatoes in the can and in the bag and some of my other containers (especially my herbs and beets) are doing awesome. I just wish like you I could grow year round! It would be so much fun!!


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Wow - Audrey, I absolutely love this hub. I think you must have written it just for me :) Been planting my garden in containers and having a blast. But, I needed this information and all the great tips you have shared to become successful here. My lettuce is doing great, along with tomatoes and squash. Wish these delicious veggies would grow in the winter. A big vote up and pushed every button!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Sam19392 - Thanks so much for the feedback and glad you enjoyed.


sam19392 profile image

sam19392 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Thanks for such an amazing informative article. Definitely my wife will be so happy about it.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Glad to be of help, James! It is a lot of fun while you're at it or at least I think so. Gardening is soothing to the soul, no matter if it's in a garden or a container...happy growing!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

This is great! I am interested in growing my own food but never knew it could be done it household containers. Thank you for the education.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Crewman - I'm envious! We are still trying to perfect ours but it is not because of lack of knowledge or plants...our weather is killing us! I'm convinced Bob needs to build me a mini-greenhouse as we keep dropping down to freezing. Most plants, even in containers, don't like that! Thanks so much for the read. Pray for us to get warm weather!


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago

Wow- lot of work here. Growing a small container garden can be pretty cool when you pluck an entire salad to make while your guests watch! Monique and I have 3 aero-gardens that we enjoy also.

This is a great resource hub- I'll be referring back to it!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Om - I hear ya - I definitely need the section on what's wrong with this? Good luck with yours - I'm just hoping and praying for WARMTH as it is so freaking cold here still I'm not sure I'll be able to put my things I've planted so far outside until June the way it's going! I may have to get artificial lighting for my garage!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

Thanks for this timely hub, Audrey! I'm planning to re-decorate my balcony for the summer. I think a few new potted plants (that I can also eat!) would make my balcony look a bit more cozy. The "What's wrong with my plants?" section will probbaly turn out to be really helpful for me, too! :)


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks, Hanna for stopping in!

Mimi - Too funny - I always have had a large garden patch so it has been different growing in containers for the past 6+ years....especially in a funny climate like high mountain desert - but I'm learning! Thanks for the read.


Mimi721wis profile image

Mimi721wis 5 years ago

I grew up on a farm. We had at least 3 gardens every year. And know it seems I can't grow a thing. Good hub for this time of year.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for such a detailed hub growing vegetables in containers.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks, Katie - I keep trying year after year no matter how cold the weather gets! It is kinda deflating when you are doing so great and then all of a sudden in JULY we get down below freezing at night but we just keep trying and watching the news!


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

I love it. Each year I utilize the container gardening technique more and more. Your brilliant tips and ideas on container veggie gardens is very helpful and I will get much use of this. Thanks :) Katie


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

KKG - Thanks so much for stopping by~!


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

Great advice, tips and instructions. Rated up and useful.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

I like wine myself, Nell so you bet...cheers across the sea!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, thanks for your help, I had to copy and paste! stupid pc! Congrats again! shall we go out and celebrate? ha ha mines a vodka and coke!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks, Nell!! I have trouble with sizes too and contrary to public opinion, size matters!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, Audrey, this is great, all the info in one place, I especially liked the pot sizes as I always seem to get it wrong, nice one! cheers nell


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks VK~!

Thank you, too, Simone. Tight spaces are great for container gardening.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Oh, what a lovely guide! This is something I might be able to do in my limited space!


V Kumar profile image

V Kumar 5 years ago

This is just great. Thanks so much.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

BJ - probably a 5+ gallon container will work just fine but I'd go with 10+ or so just to be safe....I had a squash growing in a 5-gallon and it just spreads outside the container ---over the top - only problem was keeping Griffin from eating the zucchini as fast as they grew! I imagine my son will be asking me to plant a watermelon this year....we shall see and I'll have to get back to you...maybe I could grow it in a hanging basket! Do ya think it'll work??


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

You are really covering the garden-front with these garden-container-planting hubs, Audrey. I want to plant a watermelon but can't find a container to fit. Any suggestions? Signed, Your container-challenged-fan.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Resspenser - That's another great idea (or excuse) to do container gardening! Mine is my malamutes and their big feet! I can't seem to keep anything in the ground with them around even fencing it off so the best way for me is to resort to containers - preferably up on a high wall where they can't jump up and grab stuff out of them as well! Thanks for the read.


resspenser profile image

resspenser 5 years ago from South Carolina

Good hub. Maybe I will try this since the deer keep eating everything in my garden!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks for stopping by, Suziecat - I confess I have the best luck with herbs myself and smaller things but this year I'm trying again just because I think I used containers that were too small and that probably needed more things like the drainage with gravel, etc. We have terrible problems with the cold here at night but I'm trying it again! I do pretty well but think there could be a vast improvement. Here's hoping both our gardens grow, grow, grow!!


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

I always attempt to grow vegetables in containers but usually end up with one small eggplant and teeny onions. Thanks for the comprehensive Hub. Maybe I'll do better this year.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

WR Shinn - Thanks so much for the kind comment and for stopping by.....I do love to grow things!


W.R. Shinn profile image

W.R. Shinn 5 years ago

akirchner, Wow! What a "packed full" info guide on growing things to eat. I love it!

Sincerely, W.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

LLW - Thanks - then I accomplished my mission as I love doing this every year! Thanks again for the read and the kind comment.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

Such complete information here! Anyone can read your hub and get their container gardens growing.

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