Container vegetable gardens are desirable for green thumbs who don't have the yard space to plant a large, traditional garden. Container gardens can provide low-maintenance, homegrown vegetables that are grown on a balcony, door stoop, patio or even a window sill. Furthermore, container gardens often produce healthier vegetable plants because they are more protected from soil diseases, extreme weather and many pests. You can grow nearly any vegetable in a container garden that you would grow in a traditional garden.
Choose the right containers. You can use many container sizes and types, including clay pots, wooden containers or plastic and ceramic planters. Select a container that is 6 inches in diameter and 8 inches deep for shallow-rooted vegetables, such as lettuce, radishes, peppers or herbs. Use bushel baskets, wooden tubs, half barrels or other larger containers for vegetables like tomatoes, pole beans, squash and cucumbers.
Select the proper soil. Lightweight, well-drained synthetic soils--also called soilless potting mixes--are best for container vegetable gardens. You can buy synthetic soils at your local garden store, or you can create your own by mixing one bushel each of vermiculite and peat moss, 10 tbsp. of limestone, 5 tbsp. of superphosphate (0-20-0) and 1 cup of garden fertilizer (6-12-12 or 5-10-10).
Add 1 inch of coarse gravel in the bottom of your container, and then add the potting soil. Position your container garden where it can receive at least five hours of full sun. Leafy vegetables and herbs such as lettuce, onions, parsley and radishes can grow fine in partial shade, however.
Purchase healthy young vegetable plants from your local garden store, or start your vegetables from seed. Plant your seeds in your container approximately one-quarter to one-half inch deep. Hold off on fertilizing until the plants begin to grow.
Prepare a nutrient solution to feed your vegetable plants. You can purchase a commercially made fertilizer mix or you can make your own by dissolving 2 cups of complete fertilizer (8-16-8, 10-20-10 or 12-24-12) in 1 gallon of warm water. Then, mix two tablespoons of this nutrient solution in one gallon of water.
Water your vegetable plants with the diluted nutrient solution once per day, making sure that the water is draining properly and not pooling in the containers. Avoid wetting the plants' foliage to prevent plant diseases.
Leach all the unused fertilizer out of the potting soil once per week by watering with tap water only, until you see the water drain freely from the bottom of the container. Weekly leaching with tap water will prevent any buildup of harmful elements in the soil.