A Complete Guide to Vegetable Container Gardening for Beginners (2024)

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For many people, container gardening is the best way to start a garden.

If you live in an apartment and have no room to garden, for example, container gardening could be your only way to grow plants. If you live in a location where your dirt is terrible, container gardening could be what you need to enjoy fresh vegetables.

For everyone else, container gardening is still a great alternative to grow their garden.

However, there are things you need to understand when deciding to container garden. Here is what you need to know to grow a container garden successfully:

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Why Container Gardening?

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I’ve mentioned a couple of scenarios above where container gardening is an ideal option. However, there are other reasons to container garden as well:

1. Saves Water

When you water an entire garden, you need a lot of water. Whether you are trying to preserve water to lead a greener lifestyle, or if you are working with limited water supplies, container gardening is a good option.

2. Produces Healthy Plants

If you grow a container garden, you’ll see that creating the perfect growing environment becomes much easier for acontainer than for a larger garden.

In turn, this produces healthier plants. This is great for you because it makes gardening much easier.

3. Good Family Bonding

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Because container gardening simplifies the gardening process, it shouldn’t be a surprise that kids love it.

With this in mind, container gardening could be a great way to bond as a family. The kids will enjoy their growing success and healthy veggies while you get to share knowledge and enjoy quality time.

4. Fewer Pest Issues

You can move container gardens around easily. This makes life difficult for pests and diseases which equates to safety for your garden.

Therefore, you could enjoy gardening more instead of spending a large amount of time battling things that want to kill your garden.

5. Sunlight isn’t a Problem

If you have lots of shady areas in your yard which makes planting a traditional garden difficult, you’ll enjoy container gardening.

Container gardening gives you the freedom to move your garden around as needed to meet the sun. If you thought gardening was out of the question in the past because of lack of sunlight, container gardening just gave you a new option.

6. Perfect Growing Conditions

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As I’ve already mentioned, it’s easier to provide perfect growing conditions for a container. You can add perfect soil to your pots and move them to the perfect locations to meet their needs.

Also, because they’re in pots, you make it difficult for pests and diseases to overtake them as well. This equates to perfect growing conditions.

7. Convenience

Finally, container gardening is convenient. It’s convenient to care for your plants and convenient to harvest from them too.

What You Can Grow in a Container Garden

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Container gardening is a compact way of producing an adequate harvest. Many people don’t container garden because they don’t realize what options they even have for it. Here is what you can grow in your container garden:

  • Herbs
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Certain corn varieties
  • Blueberries
  • Dwarf fruit trees

If you are new to gardening altogether, growing something like herbs or lettuce would be a good place to start.

However, if you’ve been growing vegetables or fruits for a while, you might want to advance to growing your own peppers and tomatoes too.

Here are more plants to grow in a container.

How to Choose the Right Containers

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One of the most vital steps in finding success when container gardening is to pick the appropriate pot. The most common pot sizes range from 10-inches in diameter to 24-inches in diameter.

If you choose to go with a 24-inches pot, use it for larger vegetables like squash plants or pepper plants.

However, if you choose to go with a smaller pot (such as a 14-inches diameter pot) you’d want to use this size for plants such as herbs or a small head of cabbage.

You can use these two examples to figure out what vegetables would be appropriate in which size pot.

However, you’ll still need to consider which type of pot you’ll buy once you’ve figured out the appropriate size needed. Here are your pot varieties:

1. Terracotta

Terracotta pots are the most common pots used by most gardeners. Though they are traditional, they have their downfalls.

These pots can be expensive to purchase, especially as you purchase the larger options. They can also be heavy to maneuver and are breakable as well.

2. Ceramic

There are some pots made of glazed ceramic. These pots are usually less expensive than terracotta but still carry a decently sized price tag with them.

Glazed ceramic is durable and comes in beautiful colors. Yet, they can be heavy as well and difficult to move around if you need to.

3. Plastic

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Plastic is a great option if you are needing to start a container garden on a budget. They are durable and inexpensive too.

Not to mention, they are also easy to move around if you need to move your garden based on sunlight needs.

4. Wooden

Many people like wooden containers because of their classic appearance. They add a gorgeous look to your container garden with little effort.

However, wooden containers can be hard to move when left sitting in the same location for a longer period.

5. Concrete

If you are looking for a durable planter, you should consider concrete planters. They will last for quite a while.

However, because these planters are made from concrete they will need to be placed in a permanent location. They will be extremely difficult to move once placed.

6. Metal

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There are many gorgeous metal planters. They are a great way to add some beauty to your container garden.

However, the metal will conduct heat. Therefore, metal planters need to be lined with plastic or they’ll cook the roots of your plants.

7. Window Boxes

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Finally, window boxes are a great option for container garden planters. You can attach them to your windows or simply stack them.

Either way, they can give a gorgeous look to your home while also being functional.

Planting a Container Garden

Just because you know the steps to plant a normal inground garden, doesn’t mean you’re prepared to plant a container garden. Here is what you need to know:

1. Pick the Right Pot

I’ve listed above your different options for materials and size when choosing containers for your garden. Consider what you’ll be planting in your garden and make sure you choose the right size pot.

Also, be sure to place your container garden in the right location where it will get the proper amount of sun for what you’re growing.

2. Cover the Holes

After choosing the correct pot and putting it in the proper location, make sure the pot has drainage holes.

If it doesn’t, use a drill and add a few in the bottom. This will ensure the plants don’t get water logged. When the pot has holes, be sure to cover them with wire mesh or a coffee filter to keep dirt in but allow water to seep out.

3. Fill it Up

Choose a quality soil to fill your containers with. Make sure the dirt is rich and fluffy. The fluffier the soil is the better aerated. This matters because this will impact how well the soil drains.

Keep in mind, you will only want to fill the pot half way or 3-quarters full. Be sure to break up any crumbles in the dirt while filling the pot.

4. Plant

Once the dirt is in the container, it’s time to plant your vegetables. Place the plant on top of the dirt. You don’t need to dig down into the dirt or press on the plant to put it further in the pot.

Instead, just place the plant in the pot and move on to the next step.

5. Add More Soil

When the plant is in place, add more soil to cover the roots and finish filling up the pot. Be careful not to compress the dirt.

This won’t help the plant, but instead compact the dirt which will impact how well the soil drains.

6. Mulch It

Finally, add a layer of mulch around the plant when the pot is filled with dirt. This will help the plant to be able to retain moisture.

Tips for Your Container Garden

Since you are almost ready to plant a container garden, I wanted to take the time to give you a few bonus tips to help your container garden thrive:

1. Water Daily

Container gardens aren’t able to hold moisture as well as traditional gardens. For this reason, you’ll need to check your plants daily and give them water if needed.

Also, you could choose to add a self-watering bulb or a drip irrigation system, if your containers are close together. Don’t forget about self-watering pots as well.

2. Fertilize as Frequently as Needed

When you plant your container garden, the dirt should have some fertilizer already in it. This should hold your plants over for a while.

However, pay close attention to the needs of your plant and add fertilizer as frequently as needed to keep your plants healthy and well fed.

3. Keep the Soil Aerated

I mentioned this above in the planting section, but keep the soil fluffy and aerated instead of pressed down.

The reason is aerated soil drains while compressed soil doesn’t. You want your soil to drain well for optimum plant health.

4. Add a Trellis

Finally, if you grow a vegetable which likes to sprawl out or has heavy fruit, consider adding a trellis when necessary. This will keep the plant contained and supported, which adds to overall plant health and production.

Well, you now know the container gardening basics. You should be able to start a container garden and have great success with it.

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A Complete Guide to Vegetable Container Gardening for Beginners (2024)


What is the easiest vegetable to grow in a container? ›

Here are a few of our all-time favorite container veggies:
  1. Spinach. Spinach is delicious, highly nutritious, and one of the few veggies that grows like a champ in either full sunlight or partial shade. ...
  2. Bush Beans. ...
  3. Carrots. ...
  4. Eggplants. ...
  5. Lettuce. ...
  6. Tomatoes. ...
  7. Garlic. ...
  8. Radishes.

What vegetables grow well together in a container? ›

Best Container Plant Companions
  • Beans, Carrots, and Squash. Jung Favorites: Top Crop Beans, Adelaide Hybrid Carrots, and Sunburst Hybrid Squash.
  • Eggplant and Beans. Jung Favorites: Epic Hybrid Eggplant and Provider Beans.
  • Tomatoes, Basil, and Onions. ...
  • Lettuce and Herbs. ...
  • Spinach, Chard, and Onions.
May 6, 2020

How do you start a container garden from scratch? ›

10 Steps to Container Gardening
  1. Choose a container. There are many container options available, so choose one that fits your style. ...
  2. Prepare your container. ...
  3. Fill your container with soil. ...
  4. Add a good starter food. ...
  5. Pick your plants. ...
  6. Prepare your plants. ...
  7. Plant! ...
  8. Water.
Apr 1, 2019

How deep does a planter box need to be for vegetables? ›

Some types of plants, such as lettuce and herbs, have shallow roots. So, they can thrive in a gardening container that's only 6 inches deep. Other plants like tomatoes, carrots, and potatoes require more rooting depth. They need a planting box that's at least 12 inches deep.

What is the rule of thumb for container gardening? ›

Keep the size and quantity of plants in proportion to the pot. Rule of thumb – The height of the tallest plant shouldn't exceed one to two times the height of a tall container or the width of a low bowl. When the container has a pedestal, it's usually not necessary to include it in the overall container measurement.

What are the top 10 vegetables grown in containers? ›

Some vegetables that do well in containers include nightshades, such as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants. Fast-growing crops, including peas and lettuce, also are some of the easiest veggies to grow in pots.

How do you prepare soil for planting vegetables in pots? ›

Like most other container gardens, your vegetables will do best in potting mixes made for containers. Fill the containers so the soil is at least 2-3 inches below the rim (that extra space at the top will give you room to water deeply without overflowing the container). Water the soil just before planting.

What 3 vegetables grow well together? ›

Which Vegetables Grow Well Together?
VegetableCompanion PlantDon't Plant Together
OnionsBeets, carrots, Swiss chard, lettuce, peppersAll beans and peas
PeasBeans, carrots, corn, cucumbers, radish, turnipGarlic, onions
PotatoesBeans, corn, peasTomatoes
SquashCorn, melons, pumpkinsNone
11 more rows
Jun 26, 2021

Which vegetables should not be planted together? ›

14 Vegetables You Should Never Plant Together—Gardening Experts Explain Why
  • 01 of 14. Beans and Onions. ...
  • 02 of 14. Tomatoes and Potatoes. ...
  • 03 of 14. Corn and Tomatoes. ...
  • 04 of 14. Tomatoes and Brassicas. ...
  • 05 of 14. Cucumber and Squash. ...
  • 06 of 14. Lettuce and Celery. ...
  • 07 of 14. Fennel and Tomatoes. ...
  • 08 of 14. Peppers and Cabbage.
Jan 16, 2024

How do you layout a garden container? ›

Allow one pot to dominate

A container grouping will quickly fall into place if the tallest element is placed at the rear of the composition with the other pots on either side. Plant the tall container with something appropriately commanding so it will dominate the grouping.

What do you put in the bottom of a container garden? ›

One of the best things to put at the bottom of a planter for drainage is broken pieces of pot. You can use any unwanted plant pots or chipped crockery for this – simply smash them up into small to medium-sized pieces. Adding a layer of broken pieces of pot like this will prevent compost loss out of the drainage holes.

What is the cheapest way to make a container garden? ›

Repurpose old, damaged or about-to-be discarded items into smart-chic containers. If the items don't have drainage holes, add some. Or keep the plants in their pots so you can easily slip them out of the container to dump excess water.

What is the easiest and fastest vegetable to grow? ›

Radishes are probably the fastest growing vegetable in your garden, being ready to pick in as little as 30 days from planting the seeds. Their peppery flavor is a hit on the vegetable tray or added to a fresh lettuce salad.

What are the best low maintenance outdoor potted plants? ›

What are some low-maintenance outdoor potted plants that are hard to kill? Herbs like sage, rosemary, and thyme are great plants that require little maintenance and continue to grow despite neglect. They are all hearty plants that will repeatedly return, no matter how much you cut them back.

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