Back to Lifestyle

Tips for starting a container garden

Urban homesteading basics collect vegetables from a backyard container garden

Thinking about starting a container garden?

Great choice.

Container gardens present many benefits to gardeners. Not only does growing in a container allow you to exercise maximum control over things like water, nutrients, and light, but it also makes it easy for you to grow your own food when you live in a tight space.

If growing a garden in the ground is not an option (we’re looking at you, apartment gardeners), then a container garden is a suitable alternative.

Homesteading Guide 2020

Here’s some of the best advice so that you can learn how to start your own edible container garden at home.

Start with Great Soil

sustainable living

The core of a productive edible container garden is good soil. That’s true of any garden, of course, but it’s even more important for container gardens.

Healthy soil leads to healthy plants, so look for soil that is light and fluffy. Don’t reuse soil from your garden, as it’s more likely to be contaminated with soil-borne pests and pathogens.

Invest in the Right Containers

Choose containers that are well-draining. Look for a container that already has good drainage holes and consider its size, too. A large pot will let you plant more vegetables, but it will also require more water (and more soil).

Also, consider the material that your planter is made out of. Clay pots tend to hold the heat, so you might want to reserve those for heat-loving crops like tomatoes. Those made out of lighter-coloured materials will stay cooler for longer.

Once you have your containers picked out, get them in a place where you want them before filling them with soil. They’ll be heavy once they’re totally filled!

Pick Your Crops

Container vegetables gardens are a great option for small gardens and urban homesteading

Just about any kind of vegetable or fruit can be grown in a container, as long as the pot is large enough. However, it can be helpful to choose cultivars that are bred specifically for growing in small spaces.

Not sure what to look for? When you’re ordering seeds or buying plants, pick those that have words like “patio,” “trailing,” “dwarf,” “bush,” or “miniature” in the name.

Otherwise, good options to consider include tomatoes, eggplant, herbs, onions, summer squash, and leafy greens. Most cool-season crops, like broccoli and carrots, can also be grown in containers. The sky’s the limit!

Watch Your Watering

Good watering habits are essential for any garden, but especially in a container garden. Plants that are grown in pots need to be water much more often than those grown in heg ground – containers have less soil and dry out faster.

Don’t be afraid to mulch, either. Plenty of people forget about this, but mulch offers the same benefits to edible container gardens as it does to gardens grown in the ground. It can not only retain moisture but it can also deter insects (and weeds, if your containers are placed low to the ground).

Remember to Fertilize

Just as containers need frequent watering, so, too, do they need frequent fertilizing. Fertilizers get diluted more quickly when the containers are being regularly watered. Use a liquid fertilizer or organic fertilizer, like compost tea, to keep your plants well-fed and happy.

Easy Container Gardening Ideas

Tomatoes in small garden or urban homestead. Ripening tomatoes on the garden close up.

Here are some basic layouts that will help you get started as you begin your container gardening adventure.

Grow Upward

You don’t have to have a lot of horizontal space to grow a container garden. Grow up instead! You can support climbing vines and vegetables (like beans and squash) by directing them upward with the help of a cage or trellis.

Don’t Forget the Flowers

Although most people focus on the most recognizable vegetables when growing their container gardens, don’t discredit those that will make your garden look nice, too. Some good options to grow include herbs like lavender and chives – but other edible flowers include marigolds, nasturtiums, and violas.

Play With Height

Stagger containers of various sizes next to each other. This will help prevent your container garden from looking boring.

You can also stagger height within your planter by growing plants of different heights. For example, a single planter could include both tomatoes and basil. These two are also great companion plants, helping prevent pests and diseases for each other.

Best Crops to Grow in Containers

An edible container garden is a perfect option for someone with limited ground space. Even if you have plenty of room in the garden, a container garden is a great way to add interest and beauty to your existing digs.

Growing in containers is easy – as long as you follow these tips!