Growing a Vegetable Garden in Gravel


Planting a vegetable garden is a challenging task between finding the right plants for your area, readying the soil and then caring for the plants once they start growing. If you add the challenge of only having dry gravel to plant in, you might be tempted to quit gardening. However, there is a method of gardening in gravel that will yield successful crops.

Step 1

Shovel holes in the gravel large enough to set your containers into so that you sink them up to their top edge. You can use containers of any size as long as they meet the minimum requirements for your plants. For instance, lettuce has a tiny root system and will grow in about 32 oz. of soil while a tomato plant needs at least 1 gallon of moist soil. Generally larger plants need larger amounts of soil.

Step 2

Mix up your soil. If you have compost full of organic matter, you may not need any additions. However, a sandy soil will need some additions like peat moss and vermiculite to hold moisture better. Mix small batches at a time in a wheelbarrow, using a hoe for mixing.

Step 3

Fill the plant pots with the prepared soil mixture, leaving an inch of space at the top. This will allow space for water to pool and then slowly trickle down to the plants' roots. Water each container before planting your vegetables so that the amendments have a chance to soak up the water.

Step 4

Plant your vegetables as though you were planting them directly in the soil, following regular guidelines for each type of plant. There will be little difference in how the plants will grow as long as you have provided them enough soil in which to grow.

Step 5

Cover the area around your plants with a 6-inch layer of hay or straw. This will slow down the evaporation of water from your plant pots as well as provide more nutrients for the plants as the material decomposes. Any vegetables that grow along the ground like cucumbers, melons or squash will have a clean and dry surface to rest on during the ripening process.

Step 6

Water your plants individually whenever you check and see that the soil feels dry to the touch. Water daily during the hotter months, unless you are getting plenty of rain.

Step 7

Remove the soil from the containers the following spring. You can enrich the old soil with fresh compost, vermiculite and the hay/straw used to mulch the vegetables. Refill the pots each season for healthy plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Planting containers
  • Compost
  • Shovel
  • Straw


  • Colorado State University Extension: Choosing a Soil Amendment
Keywords: growing vegetables gravel, container vegetable gardening, gravel vegetable garden

About this Author

Based in Maryland, Heidi Braley, currently writes for local and online media outlets. Some of Braley's articles from the last 10 years are in the "Oley Newsletter," "Connections Magazine," GardenGuides and Braley's college life included Penn State University and Villanova University with her passions centered in nutrition and botany.