Container Vegetable Gardening for Beginners

Just because you are limited in garden space, does not mean you are out of the vegetable gardening game. Patios, front porches and balconies can be ideal locations to grow vegetable container gardens. All you need is a little space, a few pots, plants and a little bit of sunshine.

patio garden
patio garden (Image: mavis butterfield)
large container garden
large container garden (Image: mavis butterfield)

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Bigger is Almost Always Better

Although bigger is almost always better when it comes to choosing a size for your container garden, not all of us have the space. True, the bigger container the bigger the yield, but vegetables can be grown in almost any sized pot or vessel.

Ideally you want to grow vegetables in a container that compliments the type of vegetables you'd be growing. For instance, if you want to grow carrots, you will need a pot at least 18-inches deep to allow for proper root development. If you plan on growing beans, a container that is 6-inches deep would work just fine. When in doubt, check the back of your seed packet or planting tags for depth requirements.

soil
soil (Image: mavis butterfield)

The Best Soil Mix For Containers

When shopping for potting soil for your vegetable garden, look for a mix especially designed for container gardens, like Mel's Square Foot Gardening Mix or a light and airy three way potting mix containerizing compost, peat moss and vermiculite. This will allow your vegetable roots to stretch out and grow nice and long, the same as they would if you were growing your vegetables in a traditional garden bed.

companion planting
companion planting (Image: mavis butterfield)

Grow What You Love to Eat

A good rule of thumb is to plant what you love to eat. Why plant broccoli if you don't like broccoli, right? To get the most out of your limited garden space, look into companion planting. See what vegetables grow well together and get a bigger bang for your buck when it comes to garden space. One of my favorite container combinations is tomatoes, onions and basil. Tomato plants can reach 2-4 feet in height, while the onions grow below and the basil is semi-shaded beneath the tomato plant. Maximize the space!

beans
beans (Image: mavis butterfield)

The Best and Easiest Vegetables to Grow

The best and easiest vegetables to grow in a container garden are:

  • Tomatoes
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Herbs
  • Cucumbers
  • Strawberries
  • Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Radishes
support stakes for beans
support stakes for beans (Image: mavis butterfield)

Caring for the Vegetables in Your Container Garden

Just as vegetables need a little TLC in traditional garden beds, they'll need a little love while growing in containers as well. Keep your container vegetable garden watered regularly and give them a boost every 4 to 6 weeks of fertilizer. There generally isn't too much pruning that goes into growing vegetables, but if you are growing something like tomatoes or squash you may want to give them a trim from time to time so they don't take over your patio or balcony.

Keep calm and garden on!

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