Container Vegetable Gardening

This how-to guide gives you the basics on starting your vegetable garden in a small spot ready for containers.

Container Gardening

Photo: Oxmoor House

  • What's the Right Size?

    If in doubt, use a larger container than you think you’ll need. You can always add more plants later, but don’t underestimate how large these tiny seedlings can grow.

    • Hanging basket: strawberries, parsley, thyme
    • 6-inch pot: lettuce, spinach, chives
    • 8- to 12-inch pot: strawberries, beets, carrots, lettuce, radishes, spinach, chives, dill, parsley, sage, thyme
    • 14-inch pot: arugula (3 plants), cabbage and collards (1 plant), spinach and loose-leaf lettuce (3 to 4 plants), all herbs
    • 18-inch pot: low-bush or dwarf blueberries, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, large cabbage, small eggplant, all greens (in multiples), small peppers, determinate tomatoes
    • 24-inch pot: small citrus, melons, artichokes, cucumbers, large peppers, pumpkins, summer squash, indeterminate tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, various combinations of vegetables and herbs

Getting Started

If you don’t have much land—or your only direct sunlight falls on a paved surface such as a driveway, porch, patio, or deck—plant in containers. Select large pots or a grouping of pots in different sizes so you can grow a variety of fruit, vegetables, and herbs. You’ll be surprised how productive they can be. What you lack in surface area you make up in soil depth. Roots grow deep in a pot, while they tend to grow horizontally in a garden. Follow these tips to get the most from your container garden:

Choosing the Right Container

Containers are available in a variety of materials to suit your space and aesthetic. Pot feet (or any piece of brick or stone) raise a container off the surface below so as not to block the drainage hole. This also preserves surfaces like wooden decks that may rot under constant moisture.

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