Container gardening allows you to grow vegetables or ornamental plants in a small space---such as on a patio, a balcony or indoors near a sunny window. Starting your container-grown plants off right ensures they grow strong and healthy. Choose seeds from plant varieties that grow well in containers. Most popular vegetables now have container varieties available, and many large ornamental plants have dwarf varieties that thrive in containers. Start your plants when recommended on the seed package, usually in early spring for most types.
Choose containers wide enough and deep enough for the variety of plant it will house. Use containers with drainage holes in the bottom.
Set the container on top wooden blocks that are set inside a drip tray for proper drainage. Alternately, purchase pots with drip trays that already have a raised molding for the pot to sit on.
Fill the container 3 inches from the rim with a purchased potting soil. Make your own soil by mixing 1 part garden compost, 1 part peat moss and 1 part perlite or sand.
Sow the seeds in the bottom following the recommended spacing and planting depth on the envelope. Sow most seeds to a depth twice that of their diameter.
Keep the soil moist at all times, but not soaking wet. Water once weekly or when the top of the soil begins to dry. Add water until it begins to drain from the bottom holes. Empty the drip tray once the pot stops draining.
Keep the container plants in a warm, sunny window. Choose a south or east facing window if possible and avoid placing the container near air conditioner or heater vents.
Fertilize plants with a half strength liquid fertilizer every two to four weeks. Apply a 1 inch layer of fresh compost to the top of the soil every spring for perennial plants.