How to Grow Your Own Vegetables in Pots


It doesn't take vast acres of land to grow and enjoy a vegetable garden--even city dwellers can reap the benefits of homegrown veggies by planting a container garden. Many types of vegetables are suitable for growing in pots on a back deck, patio, balcony or a sunny windowsill. All you need is a large enough pot, sunshine and good potting soil to set up a mini garden in pots. Tomatoes, peppers, beans and lettuce will happily grow in container gardens.

Step 1

Choose a pot that is large enough to support the root system of your vegetable plants. Grow small plants, like green onion or herbs, in containers that are 6 to 10 inches wide. Larger plants, like tomatoes and peppers, need containers that hold around 5 gallons of soil. Use any type of pot for a container garden, from traditional clay pots to old pickle buckets.

Step 2

Check for drainage holes in the bottom of the pot before filling with dirt. If the pot does not have a drainage hole, add one. Punch holes into plastic pots by carefully tapping a Phillips head screwdriver or nail into the bottom of the pot with a hammer. Place 1 inch of gravel in the bottom of the pot to help with drainage before adding potting soil.

Step 3

Fill pots with a loose soil that is rich with nutrients. Synthetic soils, or a soil mixed with peat moss, vermiculite or wood chips, will provide vegetables with the loose dirt they need for healthy root systems. Plain dirt will compact too easily and hamper root growth. Fill pots about two-thirds full with soil before placing plants, if using seedlings, or fill to the top if you're starting with seeds.

Step 4

Read the directions on the seed packet or seedling plant tag to determine placement. Place plants in container gardens closer together to maximize space. Cover seeds with a layer soil, or if using seedlings, cover the root systems. Gently tamp the soild down with your hands.

Step 5

Place the pots in a sunny location and water the plants. Check the seed packet or plant tag for more information on how to take care of each specific plant. Examine the plant throughout the day to make sure it is getting enough sun. If necessary, move the plant to maximize sun exposure.

Step 6

Thin out seedlings after they emerge, if you planted vegetable seeds. Pluck out weak-looking plants first, then plants that are too close to the edge of the pot or too crowded together. Refer to the seed packet to see how much room plants will need to grow. Large plants need more space than smaller ones.

Step 7

Fertilize the plants to ensure healthy growth. Use a commercial liquid fertilizer for vegetable plants, mixed with water, once a day. Once a week, water with plain water to remove excess fertilizer.

Step 8

Stake vining plants like tomatoes and peppers to give them support as they grow. Insert wood stakes deeply into the pot and tie plants to the stake with flexible cord or pieces of recycled pantyhose. Staking out a vining plant will allow it to grow upward and take up less room in the pot.

Things You'll Need

  • Large pot or container
  • Hammer
  • Phillips head screwdriver or nail
  • Gravel
  • Potting soil
  • Seeds or seedling vegetable plants
  • Fertilizer
  • Stakes (optional)
  • Ties or pantyhose (optional)


  • Texas Agricultural Extension Service: Vegetable Gardening in Containers
  • North Carolina State University: Container Vegetable Gardening
  • No Dig Garden: Container Vegetable Gardens
Keywords: vegetables in pots, patio vegetable garden, container gardens

About this Author

Denise Bertacchi is a freelance writer with a degree in journalism from Southeast Missouri State University. She is a St. Louis suburbanite who has written for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Boys' Life, Wisconsin Trails, and Missouri Life.