Container Vegetable Gardening For Beginners

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Are you ready to start growing your own food, but not ready to commit to a large garden? Container vegetable gardening is the easiest way to get started.

When you are just starting out, it’s best if you don’t overwhelm yourself by planning to do too much.

The essential supplies listed here are all you need to get started in container vegetable gardening. Plus I’ve got a few tips for growing vegetables in containers so you have a rewarding experience.

Container vegetable gardening is perfect for beginners.

You won’t have as much trouble with weeds, and you can place them wherever it’s most convenient for you. Before you get started, take a couple of days to observe how much sun exposure your growing area receives.

It’s best if your growing area receives at least six hours of sun, but you can still grow some herbs and greens in as little as 3-4 hours of sun.

Location is paramount to success when vegetable gardening in containers.

Make sure the location of your container garden is convenient and visible. One of the biggest challenges with growing your food in planters is their watering needs.

You may need to water every day in hot weather, so try to position your plants where watering them will not be a difficult chore.

It also helps if your planters are placed where you will naturally observe them every day so you can attend to watering and pest control needs promptly.

Get started growing in containers with these tips.

Planting dragon fruit in containers. Learn about growing dragon fruit.
Learn about growing dragon fruit.

Choosing containers for growing vegetables

For edible gardening, choose a container made of opaque material like plastic, concrete, or terra cotta. I like plastic containers because they are not heavy or expensive, but can still be very decorative.

We also these grow bags for growing food on the farm. The container you choose will need 1-3 holes in the bottom for drainage and should not allow for exposure of light through to the roots or soil.

The size of your container will be dependent not only on the space you have available but on what you want to grow in it.

Lettuce, herbs, and annual flowers need less space so they can be planted in ledge and window planters. Eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers will do best if given at least a 5-gallon container or larger if planted with companions.

A 20 gallon planting container can grow a pepper plant plus herbs and flowers.
This is our 20-gallon pot growing peppers, herbs, and marigolds.

Potting soil for growing vegetables in containers

The soil you choose for your container garden is important. In a container garden, the soil needs to light and fluffy.

It should not be too dense or tightly packed as roots need access to oxygen and appropriate water retention as well as drainage. I recommend organic potting soil mix and/or compost.

Whatever you choose should be without sticks or chunks and definitely do not use soil from your yard.

For vegetables, I do not recommend putting gravel, cans, or bottles in the bottom of your containers. Fill the entire container with soil.

When you grow vegetables in containers, your plants will need plenty of soil to develop a solid root structure to feed and support them when they’re heavy with fruit. It’s much more important to choose an appropriate container and soil.

Fertilizing container gardens

Vegetable plants require a lot of nutrients. And especially in container vegetable gardening, you will get the best results if you apply a liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks.

Organic options for liquid fertilizer are admittedly smelly, but they are the ideal choice for organic gardeners. Most should be diluted before application, but they still smell awful!

Many are made with fish meal which is disgusting to us but delicious to plants.

Learn more about how to use fertilizer in your vegetable garden.

As a last note about container vegetable gardening for beginners, there are a few more supplies you’ll need.

Hand trowel

A hand trowel is basically a little bitty shovel. When working with container veggies, you’ll use your tiny shovel to plant vegetables and remove dead plants.

When you grow vegetables in containers, you don’t need heavy duty tools. So choose a trowel that fits comfortably in your hand is a comfortable weight for you. Here’s some more information about choosing a good garden tool.

Garden Pruner

Even for your first garden, you will probably want some hand pruners. You will be using these to trim off dead or dying leaves, light pruning, and maybe picking produce.

Here again, you’ll want something that is comfortable for you to use and squeeze it a few times, if you can, to make sure it’s not too hard to do.


I don’t always use gloves when I garden. My hands and nails are often dirty with dirt and grit from gardening chores.

I really like to feel what I’m doing with my hands. But when I do wear gloves, I need them to be comfortable, easy to work in, and provide some barrier to thorns and moisture.

I like these gloves because they’re inexpensive, have breathable fabric uppers, and a protective coating on the palm side.

Watering can

With a container vegetable garden, you’ll need a way to gently and easily water your plants. So make sure you have a plan for watering your plants ahead of time.

Whether you choose a watering can or water hose, make sure it has a shower style nozzle so that the water comes out gently.

Now you’re all set to start vegetable gardening in containers!

Go shopping locally for plants at hardware stores, gardening centers, and local plant sales. When you are just starting out, just grow what you want to grow.

Don’t worry about growing enough to feed your whole family. Choose your favorite vegetable and grow it!

If you like flowers and aromatics, plant some basil. If you like to eat straight from the plant, choose a cherry tomato.

Pick a vegetable that you like to eat, and it will inspire you to take care of it and enhance your gardening experience.

If you grow food in containers, please leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear about it!


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  1. Love this! Last year I tried to plant in the ground, but I really didn’t like it, especially because of the area in my yard I had to plant.
    I think this year I will use containers!

  2. I have a 10 x 4 balcony with western exposure, and a 10×20 plot at a generous friend’s home. My biggest challenge is over planting for the available space. Any tips? Thanks!

    1. Hey, Bonnie! Great to hear from you! I can certainly understand the desire to overplant! Have you ever looked into square foot gardening? I would use as much vertical space as possible. Provide supports for anything that will grow up a trellis and utilize dense interplanting techniques. For example, lettuce and spinach can grow in between rows and underneath trellises. I’d love to have you join us in my Facebook group: so we can keep in touch!

  3. i currently grow broccoli, tomatoes and peppers in containers
    i also have grown cucumbers and eggplant and cabbage and gotten some results
    i love container gardening because i can move them around and they tend to get less diseases
    i use oil drums cut in half and large paint buckets.

  4. My wife and I decided to plant our own vegetables and to look after them. The problem is that we have no experience about it, but we have a very strong will and desire to do it. Your article shows us some very important steps for the beginning. Greetings

    1. Hi Jason, thanks for your comment! I’m so glad you are starting your garden. If you need any help, please let me know. Feel free to join us in our Facebook group to ask questions and get help from other gardeners. 🙂

  5. am also doing container gardening at home, I planted spring onions and potatoes and am enjoying everyday seeing them grow, I did plant tomatoes too and currently trying turmeric put it in water and waiting for them to develop roots then I plant them, I grow tomatoes in sucks, hope its ok, am in uganda following your articles, thanks for the tips

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