How to Grow Organic Vegetables in Containers


There are a lot of benefits to growing vegetables in containers for organic gardeners. If you are less than thrilled with the quality of your ground soil, or worry about chemical runoff getting into groundwater and leaching into your plants, you can eliminate this concern by planting in containers. Each container can be designed to provide the ideal growing requirements for its plant and result in a bountiful harvest even in the smallest gardens. Container gardens have less trouble with weeds, diseases and common pests, reducing the need for organic pesticides. With a few containers and a little effort, you will soon find yourself harvesting wholesome, organic foods for your family to safely enjoy.

Step 1

Decide what you want to grow. Knowing the kinds of vegetables you are planting and how many you want of each plant will help you select the most appropriate containers.

Step 2

Choose containers that are large and deep enough to house your plants. Too small a pot can result in plants being root bound and less productive. A good rule of thumb is to look on the back of the seed packet or seedling marker to see how far plants need to be spaced, and use that as a guide. For example, if your plants need to be spaced 12 to 18 inches apart, choose a container for it that is at least 12 inches in diameter--or 12 inches square if it's a square pot--and 12 inches deep.

Step 3

Place a shallow layer of drainage material at the bottom of your container, such as gravel, rocks or pottery shards. Fill your containers with organic compost, a soilless growing medium or a mixture of potting soil and compost. Don't use topsoil, as containers require a light growing medium.

Step 4

Transplant your vegetables into their containers. Provide plants that need support, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini, with a tomato cage or stake to train them on as they grow. Do not try to add support stakes or cages into the pot later, as you can damage the plant's roots.

Step 5

Place your containers where they will receive at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Container plants require more frequent watering, so water your vegetables deeply three to four times each week until the water drips out of the drainage holes.

Step 6

Add a layer of organic mulch around the base of your plants, such as compost, wood chips or pine needles. These will help provide additional nutrients to the soil as they break down and help retain moisture in the containers.

Step 7

Fertilizer container plants lightly, but more frequently, with a liquid fertilizer. Use water-soluble organic fertilizers or make a tea out of compost. Dilute liquid fertilizers to half the strength you would normally give ground plants and apply every 2 to 4 weeks.

Step 8

Check your plants regularly for pests to control any potential problems before they start. Look under leaves, on stems and in mulch for any signs of adult insects, larvae, eggs, bite marks, pest damage or slimy trails.

Step 9

Control pest problems only as they arise. Move containers, pick off pests by hand or blast your plants with a hose. If all other efforts fail, purchase an organic pesticide and apply it according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Things You'll Need

  • Vegetable seeds or seedlings
  • Containers
  • Gravel, pottery shards or rocks
  • Growing medium
  • Stakes or cages
  • Water
  • Organic mulch
  • Organic liquid fertilizer
  • Hose
  • Organic pesticide (if necessary)


  • "The Container Expert;" Dr. D.G. Hessayon; 1995
  • Maryland Cooperative Extension: Container Vegetable Gardening: Healthy Harvests From Small Spaces
Keywords: organic container gardening, growing organic vegetables, vegetable gardening

About this Author

Mackenzie Wright has been freelancing for the last 8 years in the arts of writing, painting, photography, crafts, and teaching classes on the arts. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Education. Her writing has been featured in publications such as the Saint Petersburg Times, South Florida Parenting Magazine, and Home Education Magazine.