How to Grow Food in Containers


Growing vegetables requires a lot of space outside, but containers are also a suitable place to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs if space or soil condition is an issue. Container gardens are easy to manage due to their size and are easy to move when necessary. Growing food crop from containers also extends the length of the growing season and diversifies the varieties of crops you can grow, especially in areas with an extended winter or summers that burn too hot.

Step 1

Choose vegetables, fruits and herbs that are suitable for containers. Some dwarf varieties of beans, citrus fruit and most herbs grow small. Choose herbs with a compact growth habit, suggests the University of Illinois.

Step 2

Choose containers that are big enough for the fully grown plant, hold soil without spilling it and have drainage holes, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension. It is also important to use containers that have never carried anything toxic to plants or humans. Most plants require a container that is six to eight inches deep.

Step 3

Place a piece of mesh with a layer of gravel or crushed clay pot at the bottom of your container to prevent soil from spilling out and to aid in drainage, suggests the University of Florida.

Step 4

Fill the container with a commercial potting mix, or a mixture of one part sand, one part peat and one part perlite or vermiculite, recommends the University of Florida. This potting mixture drains well and allows roots to move freely through.

Step 5

Plant the container garden at the same time as you would a regular garden, recommends the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Sow seeds according to the packaging instructions, putting a label next to the seed for easy identification later on. Water the soil until moist, but not flooded.

Step 6

Place the container in a well lit window or an area outside where it receives a good amount of sunlight, recommends the University of Florida. Check your plant varieties for their sunlight requirements.

Step 7

Water the container daily or twice daily, depending on how quickly the soil dries, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Water until the soil is moist, with water coming out of the bottom of the pot. Water should never sit on top of the soil. This indicates poor drainage. Remove the water catching tray from the bottom of the pot once the plant has had a few minutes to drink.

Step 8

Fertilize the soil with a water soluble fertilizer according to the label instructions every two to three weeks, as suggested by the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting soil
  • Container
  • Plants
  • Water
  • Fertilizer


  • University of Illinois Extension: Growing Herbs in Containers
  • University of Florida Extension: Growing Fruit Crops in Containers
  • Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension: Vegetable Gardening in Containers
Keywords: container gardening, food in containers, growing container food

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.