Easy Container Vegetable Gardening in 7 Simple Steps (Part 1)

Hi Friends!  Here in North Carolina the trees are beginning to bloom and we are gearing up for Spring.  As I walked outside this morning to get my daughter loaded in the car for school I glanced over at my vegetable garden.  It looks so sad and ready for me to get in there and get to work.

Do you love the feeling you get when you work in a garden? I do.  There is something about growing your own food that is extremely rewarding.

When I visit my Grandma C we like to stroll around outside and look at the the LTC’s garden and flowers. We have the best time talking about what she remembers about gardening from her childhood. We shouldn’t let various life changes can get in the way of planting and maintaining the  large garden most of us are used to.

The good news is that  anyone with a windowsill, soil, seeds, a lot of love and a little bit of hard work can still enjoy freshly grown vegetables by starting a container garden!

Here are  Steps 1-4 of 7 easy “how to” steps to a successful container vegetable garden.  My next post will be Steps 5 – 7.  Have Fun!!

1) Assess your space:


Container gardening can take on many forms and almost any sized space can be utilized to produce a

successful container garden. A space as large as a balcony or as small as a doorstep or windowsill

can be used to grow fresh vegetables.


It is important to know if your space has access to full sun or partial sun. While some plants can

thrive in either environment, fruiting plants (such as tomatoes) require at least 5 hours of direct

sunlight each day.

2) Choose what to grow:

Small vegetables

Carrots, Radishes, Lettuces

Fruiting plants

Tomatoes, Peppers


Basil, Parsley, Thyme

3) Pick your container(s)


A large variety of containers can be used to start your garden: clay, plastic, wooden planter boxes, and even old tires!


Your container needs to be large enough for your plants and their roots to grow throughout the season. For

most plants, the depth of your container is of most concern.  Below are some rules of thumb for choosing an appropriately sized container:

Plant Pot Diameter
Peppers, Chard and Dwarf Tomoatoes  8-10” (per plant)
Full-sized tomatoes, cucumbers 14-16” (per plant)
Lettuce, radish, onions, beets 6-10”
Herbs 4-6”


Any container chosen must have a bottom hole for adequate drainage.  Place containers on legs, bricks, coasters, or saucers to allow drainage and to protect the surface underneath.

Ease of movement

One benefit of container gardening is that plants can be moved from one location to another fairly easily. This is especially helpful during season changes when lighting may change.  If it is important to be able to move plants without too much effort consider using a light weight container. Placing containers on wheels is a great way to make a future move much easier. Also consider filling the bottom of a container with light weight Styrofoam peanuts to reduce the amount (and weight) of soil.

4) Find your soil


Use a lightweight, well-draining potting soil for container gardening. Pre-packaged soil can be purchased at a local garden store. Most soil varieties will work for container gardening; however, it is important to stay away from clay soils and soils made of primarily peat. Clay holds too much moisture when watered and can prevent your plants from getting the air they need. Contrastingly, problems can alsoarise if using a peat soil since it is  too lightweight and has difficulties retaining moisture.


Here’s an estimate for the amount of soil you will need based on the size of the container you are using:

Container Size

Amount of Soil


1 pint


3 pints


1.5 gallons


2.5 gallons


3.5 gallons


4.5 gallons


5.5 gallons


6.5 gallons

As I mentioned earlier, stay tuned for steps 5 – 7.  We’ll discuss planting seeds, watering and fertilizing.

Thanks so much to my co-author:  Lauren Paynter

9 responses

  1. Pingback: Easy Container Vegetable Gardening in 7 Simple Steps (Part 2) | 3 Square Meals

  2. Pingback: Creating a Garden in a Pot: 10 Container Gardening Tips | Home Gardening In Moncton, New Brunswick

  3. Pingback: Seed, Time and Harvest « Memoirs Of A Modern Housewife

  4. Pingback: 6 Vegetable Gardening Tips | Garden Web Tips

  5. I read your blog with interest. Good information for beginners.
    I want to comment on the use of styrofoam peanuts. I did this a couple of times
    over the years, kinda made the container lighter, but if you have heavy rain over
    a period of time they tend to get water logged, thus back to heavy. Also, the
    next year or so when you want to replace the soil, they make an aweful mess.
    Rocks and broken glass can also plug up the holes and they don’t do anything
    to lessen the weight, they do help with drainage. I use flattened coffee filters
    in the bottom of the pots, they keep the soil in and it can still drain. If I have
    a larger pot that has more than one hole I just use whatever is needed and over-
    lap them.
    As for using old tires as planters, not a good idea. I read that the chemicals
    that they use in making the tires and the chemicals that the tires pick up from
    the roads over the years break down and leach into the soil and into your
    Hope I’ve shared some helpful information. Happy gardening!!!!


  6. Great post! I do a combo of container and traditional gardening. I love getting my kids involved with growing veggies and home grown foods are so much healthier…I know no chemicals are on my food!

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