How To Raise Fruit & Vegetables in Containers

Overview

Containers sold for plants come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If you are willing to use your imagination, the choice of containers widens even more if you consider repurposing boxes, tubs and other found items. Most dwarf varieties of fruits and vegetables can successfully be grown in containers. Choose cultivars that are suited both to the space you have for them, and to the climate. Remember that containers require more frequent watering than in-ground plants. With those two principles guiding you, the fruits (and vegetables) of your labors will be very sweet.

General Fruit and Vegetable Container Garden Guidelines

Step 1

Plan what you want to grow and where. This will dictate how you move forward. Dwarf citrus trees, for example, can be grown indoors in containers as long as you have a window with full sun. The container for a dwarf citrus tree will be considerably larger than one for heirloom lettuces and baby greens. If you grow dwarf citrus trees, it is far easier to buy young saplings from a reputable vendor than to start them from seed. Lettuces, by contrast, are easy to start from seed.

Step 2

Sow seeds directly in containers or flats, depending on the season and whether your containers will stay indoors or go outside. Fruit and vegetables can be grown indoors in containers, but only if you have plenty of full sun available.

Step 3

Transplant any seedlings (also called starts) you have started in flats into your containers when they have grown to about 6 inches in height. Squeeze the sides of each cell to loosen the root ball. Then place each start in a hole in the container's soil that is twice the width of the root ball. Cover the root ball gently with soil and pat it into place.

Step 4

Use potting soil in your containers, not soil from your garden or yard. Potting soil may contain some earth, but is more commonly rich in organic materials that provide nutrients and good drainage. Potting soil mixes often contain compost, peat moss, perlite and/or vermiculite. Percentages of these ingredients vary by manufacturer, and may or may not be listed on the bags of soil that you purchase.

Step 5

Apply appropriate fertilizer according to package instructions. A good all-purpose vegetable and fruit fertilizer should be adequate for all your fruits and veggies, barring tomatoes. Tomatoes have different fertilizer requirements than other vegetables and fruits.

Step 6

Pay close attention to the watering needs of your container garden. Container gardens dry out much more quickly than traditional gardens. A good way to combat this is to place moisture meters in each of your containers. That way, you can tell at a glance whether your plants have enough water.

Hand Pollination

Step 1

Swirl the tip of a small, round paintbrush over the stamens of your flowers to gather pollen. Stamens look a bit like long hairs sticking out of the centers of the flowers. Pollen ranges in color from bright orange to pale white.

Step 2

Move the pollen-coated paintbrush down into the pistil (or bottom) of each flower.

Step 3

Wipe the brush gently along the inside of the pistil to distribute the pollen.

Things You'll Need

  • Containers
  • Flat
  • Starter mix
  • Vegetable seeds and seedlings
  • Potting soil
  • Trowel
  • Fertilizer
  • Watering can
  • Moisture meters
  • Garden hose with adjustable sprayer attachment
  • Small round paintbrush

References

  • "McGee and Stuckey's The Bountiful Container"; Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey; 2002
  • Texas A&M Agrilife Extension: Vegetable Gardening in Containers

Who Can Help

  • Backyard Gardener: Potting Soil Recipes
Keywords: fruit veggies containers, container gardening tips, vegetable container garden

About this Author

Amrita Chuasiriporn is a professional cook, baker, and writer. In addition to cooking and baking for a living, Chuasiriporn has written for several online publications. These include Chef's Blade, CraftyCrafty, and others. Additionally, Chuasiriporn is a regular contributor to online automotive enthusiast publication CarEnvy.ca. Chuasiriporn holds an A.A.S. in culinary arts, as well as a B.A. in Spanish language and literature.