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How to Grow Vegetables in Rubbermaid Containers

By Jenny Harrington ; Updated September 21, 2017

Large planters for container vegetable gardening can be expensive. Instead of using actual planters, a cheaper option is to use Rubbermaid storage containers or similar products. These containers are available in a range of sizes, are durable and are simple to convert into suitable vegetable planters. Most vegetables need at least a 5-gallon container to thrive in, though you'll need to use larger containers for growing multiple vegetable plants. Small Rubbermaid containers are suitable for many herb plants and are used the same way as the larger storage tubs.

Go outside and wearing the safety goggles, drill four half-inch drainage holes on each side of the container. Place the holes half-inch up from the bottom of the container so the water can freely drain. Set the container on top of its lid so the lid can act as a drip tray if desired.

Fill the container with a moist, sterile potting mix, such as a soil-less potting mix. Leave a 2-inch space between the top of the soil and the rim of the container.

Plant vegetable seedlings or transplants in the container to the same depth as in their nursery pots. Space multiple plants in the same container as advised on the plant label or tag.

Water the vegetables after planting until excess moisture begins draining from the bottom drainage holes in the storage tub. Apply a 1-inch layer of straw or bark mulch on top of the soil to preserve moisture in the container.

Check the moisture in the container daily, as container gardens dry out quickly. Stick your finger in the soil and if the top 1 inch feels dry, water until it drains from the drilled drainage holes in the bottom.

Fertilize every two to three weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer, following label instructions for exact application method and amount. Nutrients are limited in containers, so frequent fertilization is required for vegetable plants to thrive.


Things You Will Need

  • Container
  • Safety goggles
  • Drill
  • Potting mix
  • Vegetable transplants
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer


  • Some Rubbermaid containers have wheels on the bottom. These are easy to move if you must move around your vegetable plants during the gardening season.
  • Plant dwarf varieties of vegetables when they are available, as these are better sized to plant containers.


  • Choose opaque, light-colored containers, as clear and dark-colored containers heat up more quickly, which may damage plant roots.
  • Be sure to do your drilling wearing safety goggles, and do it outside where there is more room for the mess.

About the 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.