How to Plant Vegetables in a Container Garden


Container gardening is a viable alternative to gardening in established garden beds. It allows apartment dwellers and others with minimal space to grow and harvest their own edible crops. Your container garden can have as few or as many types of vegetables as you desire. Many plant varieties have been bred specifically for their container-growing ability. Visit a nursery or look through a seed catalog to find the best plants for your gardening venture.

Step 1

Choose large containers--5-gallon containers work for most plants--that have drainage holes in the bottom. Drill between four and six holes in the container if no drainage is supplied.

Step 2

Fill containers to within 2 inches of the rim with a healthy potting soil. Use a commercial soil, or make your own from 1 part peat moss, 1 part coarse sand and 1 part compost.

Step 3

Mix a slow-release balanced fertilizer with the soil, following label instructions for specific application amount. Mix in the fertilizer well, then moisten the soil before planting.

Step 4

Sow seeds or seedlings in the containers, following the spacing instructions on the seed envelopes or plant labels. Generally, plant large plants such as tomatoes one plant per pot and smaller plants such as peas 6 inches apart.

Step 5

Place stakes or trellises in the pot at time of planting. Place the taller-growing plants behind the shorter plants so they don't block the sun.

Step 6

Place containers where they will receive at least eight hours of sun a day. Adjust the location to suit the particular sun requirements of the plant variety.

Step 7

Keep soil moist at all times, watering daily during hot and dry weather. Water until it runs from the drainage holes so the soil in the pot is moist throughout.

Step 8

Add a liquid balanced fertilizer after eight weeks. Continue fertilizing every two to four weeks, following the manufacturer's application instructions.

Step 9

Check plants regularly for insect infestations or disease infections. Treat with chemical or organic controls if browning, wilting or fruit damage is found.

Tips and Warnings

  • Light reflection off pavement may burn plants. Lay down black landscaping cloth over pavement to protect them. Container plants dry out faster than those planted in garden beds. Check soil moisture daily and twice daily during hot weather.

Things You'll Need

  • Containers
  • Drill
  • Potting soil
  • Peat moss
  • Compost
  • Sand
  • Stakes
  • Trellis
  • Fertilizer


  • Virginia Cooperative Extension
  • Oregon State University Extension
Keywords: container gardening, minimal space, vegetables

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.