Growing Container Vegetables

Not everyone has an acre or two for gardening, and even those who do don’t necessarily want to spend all their time and energy tilling the soil of large vegetable plots.

Luckily, however, anyone with a few square feet of space on a deck or patio, or even a window box, can grow a variety of vegetables.

If you’d like to try to grow a container garden, you’ll need three basic items: containers, soil and plants. Here’s a closer look at each:

Just about any clay pot can be used for growing vegetables, as long as it’s large enough to sustain the roots and provide enough water and nutrients to your plants. There are a variety of containers specifically designed for growing vegetables, however, and they can be worth the investment if you want to make sure your garden turns out just right. Vegetables require a lot of water, so some of the best containers for growing them are those with self-watering systems. The Organic Tomato Success Kit (Gardener’s Supply Company, $69.95), for instance, includes a 4-gallon reservoir for water and nutrients that helps you keep your tomatoes well-fed and watered throughout the season, and the kit also includes organic fertilizer and a tomato cage. You might also want to go with a raised planter box, which lets you have an entire garden right at your fingertips. A Cedar Wood Raised Planter Box (, $299), for instance, is insect- and weather-resistant and has a lower shelf for tools or supplies. If you’d like to grow container vegetables entirely inside, you might want to check out the AeroGarden, a hydroponic, self-lit system designed specifically for indoor growing.

Your vegetables will be entirely dependent on the quality of the soil you give them, so it’s important to use good soil with plenty of nutrients. It’s generally not a good idea to go out to the yard and scoop soil into a container, since it will have many microorganisms that can sabotage your container gardening efforts. Container gardening soil needs to be clean, aerated, water-friendly and packed with nutrients. If you’d like to keep your soil organic, with no added chemicals, there are pre-mixed choices available, such as Organic Mechanics Planting Mix or Miracle-Gro® Organic Choice® Potting Mix.

Just about any vegetable plant can be grown in a pot, but the best ones for container gardening are those that are small and compact. You can check with your local garden center for seeds and plants that are good for containers, or there are a variety of sources online. Renee’s Garden Easy-to-Grow Container Kitchen Garden Seeds (No Thyme Productions, $12.95) offers a good way to start, with container-friendly varieties of tomatoes, carrots, chard, basil, and lettuce.

Successful container gardening is the result of experimentation, commitment and persistence. So get out there and get gardening. You never know what you can grow until you try.

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