How to Grow Vegetables in a Container


If your backyard is small, completely landscaped or you are new to vegetable gardening and don't want to rip out any current landscaping, that doesn't mean you can't grow your own vegetables. Container gardening allows you the flexibility to grow veggies wherever you have the space, whether that's on a patio, balcony or even in the front yard. Most veggies need at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day. Keep that in mind when choosing the location.

Step 1

Select veggies that have the same requirements for water, soil and sunlight to plant in the same pot. For example: tomatoes, peppers and eggplant all need lots of sunlight and rich soil. Cucumbers prefer cooler temperatures. Lettuces and greens will grow to harvest stage with less sunlight than other vegetables.

Step 2

Line the bottom of the pot with coffee filters to keep the soil inside the pot but allow the excess water to drain out. Bigger pots are better than smaller pots since there is more room for roots to grow. Bigger pots don't dry out as fast as smaller pots. And the soil stays cooler in a bigger pot.

Step 3

Fill the pot with potting soil. Mix the slow-release fertilizer per package directions into the potting soil. Water until the soil is saturated. It may be necessary to add more soil to bring it within 1 inch of the top of the pot.

Step 4

Plant beans, peas, squash and eggplant seeds 1 inch deep and 4 inches apart. Thin beans and peas to 6 inches apart. Allow only the strongest three plants to remain for squash and eggplant. Lettuces and greens may be broadcast thinly across the soil, gently pressed in with your hand and covered with 1/4 inch of soil. Plant carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes 1/2 inch apart, then cover with 1/4 inch of soil. Plant tomatoes and peppers 4 inches apart and thin them to no more than three plants per pot.

Step 5

Water the seeds lightly. Cover the top of the pot with kitchen plastic wrap. Remove when the seeds have sprouted.

Step 6

Stake tomatoes and peppers if necessary. Harvest when fruits are ripe. Greens and lettuces may be picked when the leaves are a few inches long by snipping them off with scissors. Root vegetables should be thinned as the roots get bigger so they aren't crowding each other. The roots that were thinned can be eaten even when tiny.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't use soil from the backyard or other garden dirt. It may carry diseases and fungi, as well as harden quickly.

Things You'll Need

  • Container with drainage holes
  • Potting soil
  • Coffee filters
  • Slow-release fertilizer
  • Plastic wrap


  • "Great Ideas for Your Garden;" Courtier et al; 2003
  • "Grow Vegetables: Gardens, Yards, Balconies - Roof Terraces"; Alan Buckingham and Jo Whittingham; 2008

Who Can Help

  • Backyard Gardener
Keywords: grow veggies in containers, vegetables in pots, growing veggies in pots

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.