How to Prepare Soil for Container Gardens

Overview

Growing abundant vegetable crops doesn't require a large yard to garden in. Container gardens allow those with small spaces and apartment dwellers to take advantage of a bountiful summer garden. There are many vegetable plant varieties bred for their ability to grow well in containers. Using the right soil goes a long way toward ensuring your container plants are able to thrive in their limited space. Regular soil from your yard won't do, as it compacts too easily and is full of weed seeds and diseases.

Step 1

Sterilize compost for your potting soil to kill off weed seeds and disease. Bake in a roasting pan in a 200-degree preheated oven for 30 minutes to sterilize. Allow it to cool down to room temperature.

Step 2

Mix one part sterilized compost, one part peat moss and one part coarse sand in a large bucket. Break up any clods in the compost and make sure the mixture is combined well.

Step 3

Mix in a slow-release balanced fertilizer. Follow label instructions for application amounts depending on the amount of soil your are mixing up.

Step 4

Fill containers with the soil mixture to within 2 inches of the container's rim. Water soil in containers until it drains from the drainage holes in bottom, indicating it is evenly moist.

Step 5

Fill containers with the soil mixture to within 2 inches of the container's rim. Water soil in containers until it drains from the drainage holes in bottom, indicating it is evenly moist.

Step 6

Add fertilizer to the soil a second time when the plants begin forming fruits. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer. Subsequent fertilization depends on the needs of each particular plant variety.

Tips and Warnings

  • Fertilization is important for container garden soil, as it has little to no nutrients on its own. Do not add fertilizer to container soil that is being used to start seedlings. They require no fertilization until they are two weeks old.

Things You'll Need

  • Roasting pan
  • Compost
  • Peat moss
  • Sand
  • Bucket
  • Fertilizer
  • Planting containers

References

  • Texas A&M Extension: Vegetable Gardening in Containers
  • West Virginia University Extension: Container Gardening
Keywords: container garden soil, sterilizing compost, potting soil mix

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.