How to Grow Vegetables in a Barrel


You do not need a plot of land to grow your own vegetables, a sunny balcony or patio will do. By planting your vegetables in a barrel or half barrel, you can grow a wide assortment of your favorite vegetables. You can even design your barrel vegetable garden to have a theme. Plant ingredients for tomato sauce, the tomatoes, peppers and herbs. A salad garden can have a variety of lettuce, spinach, radishes, carrots, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. Not only will will your vegetable garden provide you with fresh vegetables, but it can become an interesting conversation starter.

Prepare and Plant

Step 1

Use a drill to make four or more drainage holes in the bottom of your barrel, if it does not already have drain holes.

Step 2

Place your barrels where you intend to grow your vegetables. Most vegetables prefer to grow in a sunny location and your garden barrels, therefore, should be placed where they will receive at least six to eight hours of sunshine a day. Because your barrels will be heavy and difficult to move after they are filled with planting medium, situated your empty barrels where you want them before filling.

Step 3

Fill your garden barrels with high quality, sterile potting soil. This soil usually contains a mixture of sphagnum peat moss or compost,pasteurized soil, vermiculite or perlite, and possibly some composted cow manure. This mix will allow air in the soil and also create good drainage. For a lighter weighing barrel garden you can use soil-less potting mix, which will contain vermiculite, peat moss, and either coarse sand or wood products. Soil-less mix retains water longer and will be better if you intend to move your garden from one location to another.

Step 4

Mix an even balanced (10-10-10, 13-13-13) timed-release fertilizer into your potting soil before you begin planting your vegetables. The equation should be 1/2 tbsp. of fertilizer for every one gallon of potting mix.

Step 5

Plant your vegetable plants or seeds in your barrel the same way you would if you were planting them in the ground of a vegetable garden. In other words, if the seed packet instructions say to plant the seeds at a prescribed depth, your barrel planted vegetable seeds should also be planted that same depth.

Step 6

Water your barrel vegetables, whether by hand or with a drip irrigation system, when the soil feels dry 4 to 6 inches deep. Depending on the temperature, it could be once a week, but in hot weather, you may need to water every two to three days.

Step 7

Fertilize your vegetables mid-season with a water soluble fertilizer that you mix a little weaker than the label prescribes. Because your vegetables are being grown in a contained environment, they will need the extra nutrition as they begin to produce. Continue feeding your vegetables this fertilizer every one to two weeks during the production period.

Things You'll Need

  • Barrel or half barrel
  • Vegetable starter plants or seeds
  • Drill
  • Quality potting soil or soil-less mix
  • Water
  • Drip system-optional
  • Complete balanced, time released fertilizer
  • Water soluble fertilizer
  • Supports, such as tomato cages


  • Growing vegetables in containers
  • University of Florida Extension: Mini gardens
  • Container vegetable gardening
Keywords: container vegetable gardening, grow container vegetables, vegetables in barrels

About this Author

At home in rural California, Kate Carpenter has been writing articles and web content for several well known marketeers since 2007. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Kansas and A Master of Education equivalent from the University of Northern Colorado, Carpenter brings a wealth of diverse experience to her writing.