Growing herbs and vegetables in planters allows you to enjoy gardening in small spaces. Planters come in such a wide variety of shapes, designs, materials and colors that having them on the patio can make your outdoor space more visually appealing. Because the planters are up off the ground, you don't have to bend down as far or kneel to care for the plants. Container gardening, like planting in raised beds in the garden, is a method of coping with poor soil conditions. You begin with nutrient-rich soil and avoid having to till hard or compacted earth.
Choose planters with enough depth so the roots of the herbs and vegetables have sufficient room to grow down through the soil. The soil in shallow containers dries out too rapidly for proper growth of plants. Use planters that have a hole in the bottom so water will not be trapped.
Select vegetables and herbs that your family enjoys cultivating, eating and cooking with. Take into account the relatively small square footage of the planters and choose plants that do not spread out widely. Choose vegetables that produce a lot of fruit for a given plant size. Even zucchini could be grown in a planter because the fruit is particularly tasty when harvested before maturity. Select varieties that do well in planters, such as carrots, lettuce, sweet peppers, peas and beans.
Consider companion planting with herbs and vegetables, choosing varieties that can help each other with pest control or hasten growth when planted next to each other. Use the fragrant herb rosemary to keep insect pests from harming beans and carrots. Plant borage to keep hornworms away from tomatoes. This herb can also help enhance the flavor of strawberries.
Fill the planters with commercial soil mix that has fertilizer added, or mix in a slow-release fertilizer. Add enough soil so it is within 2 inches of the top of the planter. Carefully remove the seedlings from their trays so you don't damage their roots. Plant them deep enough so the top of the root ball is covered.
Thoroughly water the newly planted seedlings or seeds. Frequently check the planters for dryness by digging down 2 inches with your fingers. Add water as necessary. Once a week add water-soluble fertilizer at a half-strength dosage.