Apartment gardening in containers is widespread and gardeners with decent sunlight on their porches can grow their own vegetables. Select vegetable cultivars that grow well in containers to have the best chance at success. Iowa State University maintains a list of recommended varieties to help new gardeners get started.
Observe the level of sunlight on your porch throughout the day. If you have at least six hours of sun or more you can plant sun-loving vegetables like tomatoes; if you don't, you can plant greens and root vegetables. Choose your porch garden based on the level of sun you receive.
Pick appropriate containers for your crops. Lettuce, peppers and herbs need a container that's 6 inches or wider and 8 inches deep at minimum. Squash, tomatoes and beans have deeper roots and perform well in half barrels. Select only containers that have drainage holes in the bottom.
Prepare a potting mix for your vegetables by combining equal parts of sand, loamy garden soil and peat moss. North Carolina State University recommends heating this mixture for one hour in a 210 F oven to kill bacteria or insects. Alternately, purchase a soil-free potting medium from a nursery.
Fill your containers 2/3 with the soil. Transplant vegetables from starts. Remove the vegetable from its plastic container and compress the root ball with your fingers to break apart the roots. Then place the vegetable in the container so the roots are buried. Add other plants until the container is full, then fill in the rest of the container with soil mix. To determine how many plants to put in a pot, follow the spacing instructions on your transplant or use the spacing guidelines at North Carolina State University (see Resources).
Water the container to compress the soil and remove air bubbles. Add water until the soil compresses and you see water flowing out of the holes at the bottom of the pot.
Place the containers in the best location to receive light. You may need to move them from one spot to another throughout the day to maximize the light.
Continue to water the plant whenever the containers feel dry to the touch. Container gardens dry out more often than other gardens; expect to water daily during hot weather.
Fertilize container gardens with 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 fertilizer. North Carolina State University recommends applying half of the label's recommended dosage to avoid over-fertilizing your crops.