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The Best Vegetable Planters

By Cindy Hill ; Updated September 21, 2017

Container vegetable gardening brings fresh produce to balconies and apartment dwellers and the joy of gardening to elders or persons with disabilities who could not easily access a ground-level garden bed. The best vegetable planters are easy to use, accessible and fit in tight spaces to create practical and attractive growing spaces for healthy, productive plants.

Hanging Baskets

Hanging baskets let you grow vegetables in tight spaces and will double as a privacy curtain of trailing cherry tomatoes, miniature cucumbers, herbs and edible flowers. The best hanging planters for vegetable growing are simple plastic baskets with drain holes and an attached saucer snapped onto the bottom. Select as large a size as your location permits, and ensure that your hanging system and anchor point are very secure; even filled with light, soil-less potting medium, hanging baskets get very heavy with mature plants and water in them. Select small, trailing varieties of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and edible flowers and herbs like nasturtium and thyme. Create a full, frilly head for the basket with lettuces, endive and mounding basil.

Elevated Beds

Raised beds can be taken to a whole new level as an elevated container garden, with the gardening bed set on short risers, such as a base of concrete blocks, or on tall legs. Low elevated raised bed gardens, designed so that the underlying risers are recessed, allows for easy seated or wheelchair access to the growing area, while tall elevated raised bed containers make it easier to garden without bending, kneeling and stooping. Elevated raised container beds, with a shelf underneath for supplies, can be purchased from most major garden supply outfits, or you can build one to the precise height and dimensions to accommodate your gardening needs. Keep the bed narrow to access the full surface from each side, and be sure it's sturdy enough to support wet dirt and fully mature plants loaded with produce.

Self-Watering Containers

Self-watering containers blend the best of container growing with principles of hydroponic growing and provide expanded vegetable growing options for gardeners with hot sunny balconies or patios who can't be home to water dry containers several times a day. Many beautiful self-watering containers are available for sale at garden and landscaping centers, but you can also make one yourself from two inexpensive tubs or planters placed one inside the other, with holes drilled in the bottom of the inner container, which should be seated on blocks to raise it a few inches off the bottom of the outer container. This area between the containers then acts as a water reservoir. The simplest self-watering container can be built nearly free from a 5-gallon bucket, an empty deli container and an empty milk jug with just a few tools (see University of Maryland website); the bucket can be spray-painted for an improved appearance.


About the Author


A freelance writer since 1978 and attorney since 1981, Cindy Hill has won awards for articles on organic agriculture and wild foods, and has published widely in the areas of law, public policy, local foods and gardening. She holds a B.A. in political science from State University of New York and a Master of Environmental Law and a J.D. from Vermont Law School.