Tomatoes are an easy container crop for beginners.
image by Suzanne Lansford: sxc.hu
For apartment dwellers and others without a good area to garden, a container garden is a great way to grow vegetables. Place containers on decks, patios or indoors near sun-facing windows. Many vegetables grow well in containers, and some plants are bred specifically for container gardening. Supplement existing beds with a few vegetable containers, such as tomatoes grown near the house so they will be out of frost longer than those in your garden beds.
Choose large containers with a minimum of four drainage holes. Err on the side of large in regards to size and choose pots with at least a 20-inch diameter.
Fill the container with soil mixture. Use a commercial soilless mixture made of peat moss, vermiculite and coarse sand or wood. Or, use a soil mix that contains compost and other ingredients mixed with perlite and vermiculite.
Mix a balanced, timed-release fertilizer formulated for vegetable gardening into the soil before planting. Mix ½ tbsp. for 1 gallon of soil mix, or follow package instructions.
Plant seeds or seedlings in the containers following label or packet instructions for the particular plant. Plant one plant per container or follow spacing instructions for smaller plants such as herbs.
Water your vegetables regularly and keep the soil moist, but not soaking wet, at all times. Containers dry out quicker than garden beds. Apply 1 inch of organic mulch on top the soil to help preserve moisture.
Fertilize mid-season when fruit or vegetable production begins. Use a water-soluble fertilizer formulated for container gardens, or mix traditional, water-soluble fertilizer at a weaker strength than recommended.