People grow a garden in pots for numerous reasons: lack of yard space, poor soil conditions, convenience and portability. Container-grown gardens also help prevent the transfer of soil-borne conditions, such as verticillium wilt. Many plants grow well, and even thrive, in containers. You can grow almost any vegetable, herb or flower, and even some fruits. Growing a successful container garden includes choosing the correct pot size, supplying the plants with a high-quality potting mix and giving them plenty of water.
Decide what plants you want to grow in your container garden. Dwarf varieties fruits and vegetables make excellent choices. Some choices you can grow include smaller-sized, determinate tomatoes, peppers, bush beans, strawberries, top hat blueberries and leaf lettuce. Herbs and flowers do very well in containers. They add color and interest when planted with each other and vegetables.
Choose containers with drainage or self-watering planters. Self-watering planters contain a water reservoir in the bottom that provides a constant supply of water. Choose large planters, at least 8 inches in diameter. Small containers restrict root growth and dry out quickly. Any material will do, but polyurethane foam planters last longer, weigh less and provide insulation.
Thoroughly clean the containers. Wash with a mixture of one part bleach to nine parts water. Rinse well and wash with biodegradable soap. Rinse again and dry. Clean the containers any time you replant in them. This prevents the spread of plant diseases and fungus.
Plan where you will put the pots. Balconies, porches, patios and yards work well. Choose a location that gets full sun during the day. A little afternoon shade, however, keeps plants from drying out. The location needs wind protection so plants and pots do not blow over. Place larger pots in their final location because once filled, they will be heavy.
Buy or mix a high-quality container medium. The mix needs to be lightweight. If making your own, use one part compost, one part perlite and one part coconut coir. Potted plants require fertilizer for nutrients. Choose a slow-release granule.
Fill the containers with the potting mix, leaving approximately 1 inch at the top for watering. Water until all of the soil is moist. Plant seeds following the packet instructions for depth. Use the trowel to make holes for plants. You can space plants in containers much closer than you would in the ground. A 1-gallon container will hold one dwarf tomato plant, three bush beans or two cucumbers. In a 2-gallon planter, you can grow one regular tomato, two peppers or carrots spaced to 3 inches.
Water the container garden often. Do not let the soil dry out. You might need to water every day. Check the reservoir on self-watering planters daily and fill as needed.