I’ve recently been going wild planting veggies in containers in our greenhouse, and here I’ll be sharing with you six container gardening ideas for vegetables.
Container gardening can be done anywhere… on porches and patios, on windowsills, and around the yard. Indoors, outdoors, and in greenhouses.
Advantages over larger gardens? Less work, easier to handle! Fewer if any weeds, and way less water, which is something ever more important in the desert climate I live in. In any climate, really.
Clickable Article Contents
- ~1~ Read This Book on Container Gardening
- ~2~ Water Often
- ~3~ Be Aware of What Plants Need Sun, Which Plants Are Good in Shadier Spots
- ~4~ Make It Organic Container Gardening
- ~5~ Use All Sorts of Containers, Homemade to Fancy
- ~6~ Start Your Veggie Containers Early with a Greenhouse
- ~7~ Grow Vegetables You Love to Eat
- Here’s that useful book again…
So here are six ideas:
~1~ Read This Book on Container Gardening
The book that got me started is The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers. It had so many great ideas on all kinds of container gardening, and for beginners as well as people who’ve been doing it a while. Sure, you can do okay without the book, but I was really stoked by it! For example, we turned these three old bins into self-watering containers (containers with a reservoir of water in the botton with a way of wicking the water up into the soil) by following the directions in the book:
~2~ Water Often
Because your containers may dry out, you’ll need to water more often than you’d need to for plants growing in the earth. Once a day is common, though on hot days later in the summer when your tomatoes, melons, and other water-lovers are growing fast, it might be twice a day. If you use self-watering planters, you will have more time between waterings and you might even go away for the weekend. A friendly neighbor to water for you in exchange for some veggies is another good choice for going away.
~3~ Be Aware of What Plants Need Sun, Which Plants Are Good in Shadier Spots
Well, sure, this is basic gardening advice, and there’s an interesting variation on it when you garden in containers. Small and medium sized planters can be moved quite easily as the season progresses, so if you happen to have a tree that shades the veggies too much part of the year, you can just move your plants. Larger planters are likely to weigh too much.
For vegetables, by and large, it’s the more sun the better. Tomatoes need a lot. (They also have deeper roots than many greens, so they are great candidates for tall self-watering containers.) Peppers need a lot of sun too.
Basil can do okay in about half-sun.
Lettuce, arugula, bok choy, kale, and other greens don’t send their roots far down and can be in shallow containers. They don’t need full sun.
Ginger does fine in shade, though it does need warmth. I grew it in pretty deep shade in the earth when we lived in central Mexico. I’m going to try it again here, in a container I can bring inside over the winter. I will just get some organic roots from the food coop and plant those, just as I did with Jerusalem artichokes already this spring.
~4~ Make It Organic Container Gardening
There’s no reason not to! It’s better all around. I haven’t used toxic chemicals in my garden in so many years that I can’t remember when I did. Maybe I never did. There are organic solutions to any problems that might crop up.
~5~ Use All Sorts of Containers, Homemade to Fancy
Looking around your yard, you may find a lot of containers you can use. I did.
We’ve had this pottery armadillo since one of our trips to Mexico but never used it as a functional planter until now. (That’s parsley I’m starting in it, and I wasn’t sure if the seeds would come up so you can see that I planted way too many. Oh well, I’ll thin them soon.)
But after reading about self-watering planters, I got very curious about them.
That link takes you to a great assortment of them, and I’m sure I’ll be getting some.
Another kind of container that I will be trying are fabric bags called Smart Pots.
They come in many sizes and evidently more air reaches the roots so plants are less likely to become root-bound. The plants stay cooler in the heat of summer even though many of the pots are black, because the fabric lets air through. Here’s a link to a best-selling one: Smart Pots 5-Gallon Smart Pot Soft-Sided Container, Black.
~6~ Start Your Veggie Containers Early with a Greenhouse
If you have a greenhouse, as we do, it’s fabulous to be able to start plants early. We’ve been gardening for months now, and we are still getting late spring freezes here. But not in the greenhouse! We also have a big garden outside and planting out there is still a gamble.
In the fall, it’s great to have more time in the greenhouse before it gets really cold. I expect to garden year-round in ours.
If you don’t have a greenhouse, you can get a small one for surprisingly low prices. Renters like them because they are portable. See my article on several top low-cost greenhouses here on this site.
~7~ Grow Vegetables You Love to Eat
Think about what your favorites are and be sure to include them. Try something new too!
Here are some that we grow every year:
- Arugula, also know as Rocket
- Basil (we get several harvests for pesto by cutting the plant back rather than pulling it up)
- Bok choy, also spelled Pak Choy
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Squash, both summer and winter
- Tomatoes, several kinds
I bet I’ve forgotten some other favorites!
We get most of our seeds from Baker Creek Seeds at their wonderful website rareseeds.com and I’ve had great luck with their seeds in several places we’ve lived. The seeds are non-GMO and non-hybrid, so you can save seeds and have a new crop for the next year.
Here’s that useful book again…