Top How Tos

» How to Grow Vegetables in Containers

How Did I Do It? > Home & Garden > How to Grow Vegetables in Containers
» Sponsors

Growing your own vegetables in containers is easy and fun!
Growing your own vegetables in containers is easy and fun!
Few things are more relaxing and rewarding than growing your own vegetables! Picking fresh vegetables straight from your own garden for your own table always seems to make them taste better.

The only problem is that many of no longer have yards large enough for a full size vegetable garden. And even if you do have space, you may have poor soil conditions or not enough time to care for a large vegetable garden.

But there is a way to grow a nice vegetable garden even if you are limited to a small yard, patio, balcony or even just a doorstep; try growing vegetables in containers!

What do I Need to Grow Vegetables in Containers?

Growing vegetables in containers is quite simple. You can use nearly any type of containers, from terra cotta pots to plain old plastic plant containers. The larger the plants you decide to grow, the bigger and deeper your containers should be. Five gallon plastic containers are a favorite choice of many successful container gardeners!

Drainage is crucial so be sure your containers or pots have several small drainage holes in the bottom and place them in drip trays to help hold in moisture.

A small space on your deck or patio is all you need to grow a container vegetable garden.
A small space on your deck or patio is all you need to grow a container vegetable garden.
You will want to use good commercial potting soil instead of plain garden soil for best results. You can either start your vegetables from seeds or use transplants. You can add fertilizer as you water your container vegetables as you will see later in our guide.

Best of all, since your vegetable containers can easily be moved, you can experiment with various varieties and types of vegetables, rearranging them as you want to provide optimum exposure to sunlight, shade, etc. you should choose a location that gets maximum exposure to direct sunlight throughout the day for best results growing most vegetable plants.

What Kind of Vegetables Can I Grow in Containers?

Most vegetables you would ordinarily grow in a backyard vegetable garden will grow fine in containers. Eggplant, green onions, beans, lettuce, squash, radishes and parsley are all good bets.

Vegetables that grow on vines, such as tomatoes, pole beans, and cucumbers are great candidates for container growing, as long as you have room for the vines to grow. Tomato and cucumber plants should be supported with wire cages or by tying off to a nearby lattice or post for best results. Plant determinate type tomatoes, which only grow to 3 to 5 feet tall are best and grow all through the summer months.

The best vegetable types and varieties to consider growing in your container veggie garden include:

  • Cucumbers – Burpless, Liberty, Early Pik, Crispy, Salty
  • Tomatoes – Patio, Pixie, Tiny Tim, Saladette, Toy Boy, Spring Giant, Tumbling Tom, Small Fry
  • Peppers – Yolo Wonder, Keystone Resistant Giant, Canape, (Hot) Red Cherry, Jalapeno
  • Eggplant – Florida Market, Black Beauty, Long Tom
  • Squash – Dixie, Gold Neck, Early Prolific Straightneck, (Green) Zucco, Diplomat, Senator
  • Green Beans – Topcrop, Greencrop, Contender, (Pole) Blue Lake, Kentucky Wonder
  • Radishes – Cherry Belle, Scarlet Globe, (White) Icicle
  • Green Onions – Beltsville Bunching, Crysal Wax, Evergreen Bunching
  • Leaf Lettuce –    Buttercrunch, Salad Bowl, Romaine, Dark Green Boston, Ruby, Bibb
  • Parsley – Evergreen, Moss Curled

What Type of Soil Should I Use?

Commercial or “synthetic” potting soils are best for growing vegetables in containers. You can purchase these types of soil at your local nursery or garden center and they will generally consist of sawdust, wood chips, peat moss, perlite and/or vermiculite.

This will ensure that your soil is free of weed seeds or disease and will contain the right nutrients and drain properly. Be sure to wet the soil before you plant your container vegetable garden.

You can either purchase vegetable seedlings or germinate your own seeds and transplant to your larger containers.
You can either purchase vegetable seedlings or germinate your own seeds and transplant to your larger containers.
Should I Plant Seeds or Transplant?

Transplanting seedlings is easiest and will get your garden growing more quickly than starting from seeds, which must be germinated in smaller trays or containers before transplanting to your containers. However, either way works fine.

If you do start your vegetable plants from seeds, cover them with about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil and place them in a warm, sunny place to germinate until they have at least 2 or 3 leaves before transplanting them to the containers. Use care when transplanting your seedlings to avoid injuring the roots.

How Should I Fertilize My Container Vegetable Garden?

An easy way to fertilize your container vegetable garden is to mix a nutrient solution using a commercial fertilizer mix. Follow the directions that come with your fertilizer mix, using either 10-20-10, 12-24-12 or 8-16-8 fertilizer and mixing approximately 2 cups of the fertilizer mix with a gallon of warm water from the tap.

This base solution should be further diluted by mixing about 2 tablespoons of it into a gallon of water to make a growing nutrient mix that you can simply pour gently around your container vegetable plants.

Once a week you should leach unused fertilizer from the soil by watering the plants with water only, until you can see it drain freely into the drip trays. This keeps your soil mix from building up too much unused fertilizer, which could hurt your vegetable plants.

You will also want to occasionally add some mineral elements to your nutrient mix by adding water-soluble fertilizer containing zinc, iron, manganese and boron. Follow the directions provided to dilute and mix it properly.

Check your vegetable plants regularly for any signs of insects or disease. If you see discoloration in the leaves, you may need to apply insecticide and/or fungicide to clear up such problems.

How Often and How Much Do I Water My Container Garden?

Watering your container vegetable garden daily is recommended, as long as your containers provide adequate drainage; you don’t want to water-log the soil, which starves the plants of oxygen.

Try to water the soil around your vegetable plants and avoid wetting the plants too much since wet leaves may cause fungus or disease. Use your nutrient solution to water daily, except for one day a week when you should use water from a tap to leach the soil as mentioned previously.

How Much Light Do My Container Vegetable Plants Need?

Most vegetable plants grow best in direct sunlight and will grow faster the more hours of sunlight received each day. Some leafy crops, such as lettuce, greens, cabbage, spinach and parsley grow well with less sunlight, so keep these to the rear of your container garden, placing fruit bearing vegetable plants such as cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant where they will receive the most direct sunlight possible.

Since containers are easily moved, you have the advantage of being able to rotate and position different plants for optimum sun exposure; move smaller plants out of the shade of larger plants and rotate plants frequently to encourage more rapid growth!

How Do I Harvest Vegetables From My Container Garden?

One of the joys of having your own container vegetable garden is harvesting crops as they ripen. It is best to allow your vegetables to ripen on the vine, picking them at peak maturity for the best flavor. If you have a bunch of tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce or other vegetables that ripen at the same time, pick them and keep them in a cool place rather than letting them sit on the vine too long and chance having them spoil or rot.

If you stagger planting like vegetable plants a few weeks apart in the spring, you’ll have a better chance of harvesting veggies throughout the summer rather than having, say, all of your tomatoes or cucumbers ripen all at once.

Good luck and happy gardening; by following these tips and learning as you grow, you’ll enjoy planting, caring for and harvesting vegetables from your container garden all summer long!


  1. Braden
    May 17, 2008

    I like your great tips!!

    Leave a reply
  2. nutrients that onions need
    May 18, 2008

    […] […]

    Leave a reply
  3. Anon
    June 5, 2008

    thanks, it helped me a lot.

    Leave a reply
  4. Alexianna
    June 10, 2008

    If I plant a tomatoe plant in a container, and it grows well. Will I have to start another one? or will the plant keep sprouting?

    Leave a reply
  5. Anon
    June 19, 2008

    Your great tips helps my plant grow great.

    Leave a reply
    July 11, 2008

    Your tips on how to grow egg plants in containers has really convinced me to try asample and see the results and i will still need your support esp. on the tips

    Leave a reply
  7. Enter Your Name
    August 26, 2008


    Leave a reply
  8. Gary Brasher
    August 26, 2008

    Enter Your Comment I need help with my blueberries,they are two years old and they just will not product very many berries. What do you recommend as for as fertilizer or some other product to feed them.

    Leave a reply
  9. How to Grow Vegetables in Containers | How Did I Do It? | EasyTomatoes.com
    March 28, 2009

    […] the original post here: How to Grow Vegetables in Containers | How Did I Do It? Share and […]

    Leave a reply
  10. Liz M owner hyperlocavore
    June 3, 2009

    You also might consider forming or joining a yard share group! Visit hyperlocavore – it’s free – we can get you started, help you find people to share space with, grow with and learn with!

    Leave a reply
  11. Monica
    June 10, 2009

    I planted cucumbers in containers for the first time this year. I have four plants, and none of them are doing well. They look wilted and three of the four stopped growing after a couple of weeks. I’ve been watering daily with diluted fertilizer, as recommended. I’m not sure what the problem could be. Any suggestions?

    Leave a reply
  12. lee
    June 18, 2009

    why do my leaves on the tomato plant curl? does it need more water or am I giving it too much. the leaves look good in the being but as they get bigger they tend to curl and do not look healthy.

    Leave a reply
  13. Marie
    August 20, 2009

    Is there a diary that shows when is the best time to plant vegetables in tubs? I never know what vegetables should be planted out each month!

    Leave a reply
  14. flo
    September 3, 2009

    thanx ­čÖé

    Leave a reply
  15. Lisa
    June 12, 2010

    I have a lot of land, but it is just too much work to have a regular garden. I am in my third year of container gardening, and have enjoyed it so much, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the old fashioned way. Last year, I harvested so many cucumbers, I shared them with friends and family so they wouldn’t be wasted. My tomatoes didn’t do as well, but I still had plenty. What I had the best luck with is spring onions and oregano. I have divided those several times and given plants away as gifts. It is so easy, just water daily!

    Leave a reply
  16. charm
    March 5, 2011


    Leave a reply
  17. Kent
    March 13, 2011

    I have NOT had much success through this winter using miracle grow mixed in top soil in pots and window box style containers inside the house with a grow light. The soil should be spectacular, but I am trying to grow Habaneros and while they look nice and shiny green and healthy, they ain’t grown much AT ALL! A friend with more experience told me Habaneros are REALLY picky and said, “You get these out in the first weeks of spring and they will really take off!” OK … but why didn’t they grow inside all winter? He suggested that I would have had to keep the apt at about 90 degrees. Any ideas? [email protected]

    Leave a reply
  18. MTB
    April 4, 2011

    If i grow vegetables in container, will i get insects in them?
    How and what will i need to do to keep the plant Insect free?
    I’ve been thinking of growing vegetables in container for almost 4 yrs but the pnly thing thats stopping me is the thought of having insects in plant and in my apartment.
    Any suggestions or help…:/

    Leave a reply
  19. chelitta
    April 28, 2011

    thank you for the great tips

    Leave a reply
  20. Robyn
    June 15, 2011

    I am trying container gardening for my vegetables for the first time and so far so good. I have lettuce, swiss chard and red, green and yellow bell peppers. I haven’t had much luch with the peppers the last two years (they were in the ground) so I really want to get it right this time since I love peppers! I heard they require a lot of fertilizer – would I use a different strength or frequency for these? Also, I heard coffee grinds are good but I’m not sure if that applies to vegetable gardening – anyone know? Thanks

    Leave a reply
  21. Saving Money in a Recession: Container Gardening | Women Go Political
    June 22, 2011

    […] But there is a way to grow a nice vegetable garden even if you are limited to a small yard, patio, balcony or even just a doorstep; try growing vegetables in containers!┬áInstructions […]

    Leave a reply
  22. Virginia (Elizabeth Ann Grace)
    July 17, 2011

    Lisa, I am like you. I am even on orchard land and am putting in more fruit and walnut trees.

    But I have wanted the vegetables also but unable to do the work involved due to being disabled.

    So, it suddenly dawned on me that I could grow all the veggies on my deck as I started tomatoes, peppers, basil and herbs this year and they are doing great!

    I thank the person who provided all this information!

    Leave a reply
  23. James J. Decker
    December 8, 2016

    I love to grow vegetables in my home garden but didn’t know where to start. Thank for your tips. Very simple and easy to get started, I will follow your advices in my next year’s gardening projects!

    Leave a reply

Leave a Comment

Add your picture!
Join Gravatar and upload your avatar. C'mon, it's free!