Containers Grow Vegetables: How Container Vegetable Gardening

vegetable gardening

vegetable gardening

Updated on 10/1/2023
Emma DowneyBy Emma Downey
Gardening Expert
Learn More about Emma Downey

People who have a small amount of available yard space can benefit greatly from growing vegetables in containers. It is also a method for getting around problematic soil conditions. And if you're new to the world of vegetable growing, this is one of the best ways to get started. The following is information that will assist you in selecting the appropriate containers for your urban garden as well as the plants that should go inside them.
Planting some of your vegetables in hanging baskets offers some unexpected benefits, and this is true regardless of the type of garden you maintain. (Spoiler: Fewer pests!)
And growing your own food in the backyard is one of the most significant steps you can take toward leading a life that is less dependent on outside resources. It is difficult to argue against the superior flavor of produce that has recently been harvested.

Container Vegetable Gardening for Beginners

vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

Container gardening is a wonderful way to make the most of your space and get growing, regardless of whether you are a novice gardener or one with a lot of experience but limited space to grow a garden (hello, downsizing!). Container gardening is a wonderful way to maximize the use of your area and get growing. It is the ideal method for beginning with a modest garden and gaining expertise before moving on to larger-scale plantings.
In the following paragraphs, I will discuss selecting low-cost garden containers for your urban garden, as well as the optimal size and some of the most productive crops for growing in pots.

Make sure you have a look at my course titled "The 5-Gallon Garden" if you are a beginner gardener who is unsure how to get started gardening or where you can fit a garden into the area you have available in your home.

It turns out that there is a container hidden beneath all of that foliage!

Container Gardening for Vegetable Cultivation

vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

If you want to establish a container garden but have a limited budget, you are definitely looking for ideas for inexpensive pots that you can use to grow your vegetables in. Good news! When it comes to getting started with container gardens, there is a wide variety of options available that will cost very little or nothing at all.
Let's begin by discussing the requirements for a container to fulfill before it may be utilized as a planter for the purpose of cultivating veggies (or flowers!).

  • It is essential that it be of an appropriate proportion to the plant that you desire to cultivate. Click this link to see a downloadable PDF of a container-size cheat sheet.
  • A good drainage system. You will need to drill a drainage hole in the bottom of the container if it does not already have one. This prevents the soil from being overly wet.

Containers Growing Vegetables

Like most other containers growing vegetables, your vegetables will do best in potting mixes made for containers. Fill the containers so the soil is at least 2-3 inches below the rim (that extra space at the top will give you room to water deeply without overflowing the container). Water the soil just before planting.

What Are You Going To Cultivate?

The first thing you should do before selecting a container is to decide what you want to grow inside of it.
Containers of varying sizes are required for the storage of various sorts of vegetables.
A small lettuce plant needs a considerably smaller space than a giant tomato plant does in order for its roots to develop properly. In order to ensure that the roots have adequate room to grow, the depth of the container you use for even the smallest plants should not be less than 4 inches.

Inexpensive containers

vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

When it comes to the containers that may be used to grow vegetables, there is a wide variety of possibilities to choose from. Some of these containers are strictly functional, while others are attractive enough to be displayed on your patio.
Free is about as inexpensive as it is possible to get, and among the many alternatives for garden pots that fall into this category, there are also a couple that is reasonably inexpensive but will endure for a long time.
Think creatively about how you may acquire garden containers that are within your price range, whether you are looking for little containers that are suitable for growing salad greens or huge containers that are able to host a tomato plant or summer squash.
Both containers that are specifically designed for use as planters and creative containers that may be repurposed are easy to find at garage sales and thrift stores, which are fantastic resources for discovering prospective planters.

Repurposed food storage containers

vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

Growing tiny, green crops like lettuce, bok choy, or arugula is a good use for huge food and drink containers like large coffee cans, milk jugs, and other large food and drink containers.
Although you can make use of a wide variety of repurposed containers, for the greatest results, you should avoid using containers that are any smaller than a gallon in capacity. Even the smallest plants require a significant volume of soil in order to support their root systems.


There is a very great deal of variety in the forms, dimensions, and materials that baskets can be made of. These won't survive as long as some of the other options, but they are adorable and will speed up the process of your growth. With this alternative, you won't have to be concerned with drilling drainage holes, either.


vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

The holes in old colanders are just the ideal size for salad greens, and they provide an abundance of drainage as a bonus. Colanders that have handles can also be used well as hanging baskets.

large metal pots 

crack or spring leak, they are no longer practical for cooking, but they are ideal for growing in because of their size and durability.


Wooden crates in various sizes work well. You could check with your neighborhood winery or liquor store to find out whether they get any of their wine packaged in wooden boxes. Or you might try going to Costco! They might be glad to give you some of what they have.
You will need to make a few holes in the base of the container for drainage before you can begin planting. Even old dresser drawers can be repurposed for planting some plants.


vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

When it comes to planting, buckets with a capacity of five gallons are an ideal size since they offer a sufficient amount of room for the roots of plants such as peppers, peas, tomatoes, and carrots. It is possible to cultivate Vegetable Gardening in either plastic or metal buckets; however, you must ensure that the buckets have not previously been used to store anything poisonous.
Bakeries and delis that frequently get goods delivered in this manner are good sources for free or inexpensive plastic buckets. Additionally, friends who buy cat litter in huge plastic buckets are another good supply of these containers.
If you want to make your own upside-down tomato planter, you can even use buckets.

Natural materials

Look for potential opportunities in the natural surroundings of your property. Simply adding soil transforms a hollowed-out log into a garden pot that may be used. Although they will break down into their component parts over the course of many years, they can serve as an affordable garden container to get you started growing.


vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

If an old wheelbarrow has rusted through to the point where it can no longer be used to move items, you can give it a little bit of extra life by placing vegetable plants inside of it.


Pallets are easily obtainable and can be obtained at no cost. Each pallet can function independently as either a vertical or horizontal planter. In order to construct planting areas that will keep the soil in place, you will need to utilize some landscape fabric. The construction of a raised bed planter with four sides can be accomplished with the help of multiple pallets.

Planting Containers

Plastic nursery pots are available in a wide variety of sizes, and they can frequently be acquired at no cost. Once a shrub or tree has been put in a container, the container is of little use to the landscaper who planted it. They are typically relieved when they discover someone who is willing to take them off their hands.
These containers may not be as attractive as some of the finer garden pots, but they are fully functional and accomplish the task for which they were designed: they allow plants to flourish!

Containers That Demand A Certain Level Of Financial Commitment

vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

There are many inexpensive garden containers available, such as those that have been discussed above. However, there are also many more expensive options available that may be used to create a container garden that is attractive enough to be placed in the front yard.

Fabric pots

Fabric grows bags are an option that is not overly pricey and is relatively new to the gardening industry. My experience has shown that vegetables thrive in them. Again, these are available in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from 2 gallons all the way up to 100 gallons for extremely large container gardens. The material used to make these pots is durable and breathable, and it has the texture and appearance of felt.
Because plant roots develop toward the sides of the pot when they are put in containers, this is favorable to the plant's growth. When roots approach the border of a container with hard sides, they begin to circle and eventually become root bound as they continue to go around and around the perimeter of the container. When using cloth pots, as the roots reach the edge of the container, they begin to dry out and eventually die.
It may appear to be something negative, but in reality, it's not! When those roots die off, the plant responds by sending out lateral roots, which are highly effective in absorbing nutrients and contributing to the development of a robust plant. Additionally, the roots are able to obtain oxygen due to the porous nature of the cloth.
These pots are built to withstand the elements and will last for years in the garden. Since just about ten years ago, I've been in possession of a number of enormous cloth pots with a capacity of fifty gallons each.

Glazed Ceramic Containers

These are completed with a glaze that does not allow pores to form and are produced from clay. Because this glaze helps to retain moisture, the terra cotta pots do not get completely dry as soon as they would if they were left unglazed.
These containers, which are typically filled with blooming flowers or a single tiny tree, are frequently utilized as the center of focus in landscape designs. Nevertheless, there is no valid reason why you can't stuff yours with food! Glazed pots such as these may absolutely hold their own as a charming addition to a patio or front yard garden when they are planted with a choice of pretty veggies and flowers.

Troughs and tubs for feeding animals

vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

The use of galvanized pots is currently all the rage in the gardening industry, and for a good reason; these containers are incredibly functional. Strong plastic stock tanks don't have exactly the same appealing appearance. Both of these materials are available in a wide range of sizes, from large buckets to enormous containers that are capable of holding an entire load of dirt from a pickup truck. The wider choices truly do have the potential to be considered elevated garden beds.

Check to see that the pot has an adequate drainage system.

It does not matter the kind of container you decide to use; drainage is an absolute must. It is possible for water to pool in the bottom of a pot if it does not have at least one drainage hole. The roots of the plants will decay as a result of this. Be sure to inspect even though drainage holes are included in the majority of ready-made planters. When I've picked up a glazed planter in the past, I've been taken aback to discover that the bottom of the pot lacked the drainage hole that's absolutely necessary.

vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

You will need to make a drainage hole in the vessel that you use if it does not already have one. This is typically the case with containers that have been upcycled. For containers made of thin metal, use a large nail and a hammer to pound multiple holes in the bottom of the container. Utilize a drill to create a drainage hole in heavy-duty metal containers or plastic containers that are very strong. If you have a larger bit, such as a 1/2" size, you should only need to drill one or two holes, but if you just have a smaller bit, you should drill numerous holes.

Make sure you have a look at my course titled "The 5-Gallon Garden" if you are a beginner gardener who is unsure how to get started gardening or where you can fit a garden into the area you have available in your home.

Now that you've decided on the size of the garden containers you want to use let's speak about the varieties of vegetables that do best in each container size.

vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

Growing Vegetables in Pots for Beginners

Large vegetable container, ranging from 18 to 22 inches in height
Large planters are ideal for growing solitary crops that require a significant amount of space for their roots. These garden containers provide a room that can be utilized for trellises or cages.

Vegetable Garden: The Basics Of Grow Vegetables

Why garden, you ask? What do you say we treat you to the freshest fruits and veggies you've tasted? If you have never tried food from the garden, you are in for a treat since the flavors are sweet and juicy, and the textures are crisp and alive. There is nothing quite like fresh vegetables, mainly if you produce them yourself, which is something you can do. There is nothing quite like fresh vegetables.

Gardening is a tremendously gratifying activity, even though it may initially appear challenging. On this page, we will focus on the fundamentals of vegetable gardening and planning, including how to choose an appropriate location for your garden, design a garden of the proper size, and decide which vegetables to cultivate.

Pick the Right Location

It is of the utmost importance that you choose a suitable site for your garden. A less-than-ideal location could produce less-than-ideal vegetables. The following are some pointers to consider while selecting a reliable website:

A location that receives 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily is ideal for most veggies. Several vegetables can survive in the shade, which is leafy green varieties.

Drains well and does not retain water: If you have soil that doesn't drain well and creates puddles, planting vegetables in a raised bed or raised row will improve drainage. When the soil is damp, the roots also become wet, leading to rotting. If you have rocky soil, you should till it and remove the pebbles from it since rocks inhibit the formation of plant roots and result in weaker plants.

Stable and not windy: Stay away from areas that frequently experience high winds, and these conditions might cause your young plants to wither and die or prevent pollinators from accomplishing their jobs. You should also avoid planting in areas that are prone to flooding or experience an excessive amount of foot activity. Place your seeds in an area that would make Goldilocks happy—somewhere that is "just perfect."

Nutrient-rich soil. Your soil feeds your plants. If you have poor soil that is thin and lacking in nutrients, your plants will be weak and unhealthy. To encourage the growth of your plants, incorporate a significant amount of organic matter. Check out some tips on how to get your soil ready for your veggie plants.

Choosing a Plot Size: Start Small!

Remember that taking pride in a modest garden is preferable rather than feeling annoyed by a large one.

Beginners frequently make the mistake of planting too quickly – far more than anyone could ever consume or want. This is one of the most typical mistakes that beginners make. Take the time to carefully lay out your garden, especially if you don't want to find zucchinis hiding in your attic. Begin on a small scale, and grow only what you are sure you and your family will consume.

Size of Garden

A garden that is 10 feet by 10 feet (100 square feet) in size is a manageable size if it is planted in the ground. Choose three to five of your favorite vegetables, and then purchase three to five plants of each variety.

When starting, a raised bed that is either 4 feet by 4 feet or 4 feet by 8 feet is an ideal size. Check out our guide on raised garden beds, which discusses the advantages of using raised beds, how to construct raised beds, and the types of soil that should be used to fill raised beds.

If you want to go bigger, a garden in the ground that is 12 feet by 24 feet is usually the most you should try for as your first attempt. For instance, a garden designed to provide food for a family of four might contain the following plants: three hills of yellow squash, one mound of zucchini, ten different kinds of peppers, six tomato plants, twelve okra plants, a 12-foot row of bush beans, two cucumbers on a cage, two eggplants, six basil plants, one rosemary plant, and a few low-growing herbs such as oregano, thyme, and marjoram.

Regardless of the size of your garden, you should be sure to establish walkways that allow you to access your plants to weed and harvest them at regular intervals of around four feet. Just make sure you won't have any trouble reaching the middle of the row or the bed without stepping on the dirt.

Choosing Vegetables

As a novice, you should begin by selecting veggies that are not only simple but also productive. Below you can find a list of ten simple vegetables. However, it is also a good idea to get in touch with the Cooperative Extension Service of your state to find out which plants do particularly well in your region. For instance, if you reside in a location that experiences scorching weather, it may be difficult to grow vegetables that thrive in lower temperatures. Containers Grow Vegetables: How Container Vegetable Gardening

The following are the veggies (and fruits!) that do well in large containers:

Vine cucumbers
Beans on the pole
Peas on the string

veggies (and fruits!) that do well in large containers

veggies (and fruits!) that do well in large containers

Large containers are an excellent choice for growing a number of different species of smaller vegetables, as these plants do not require the entirety of the pot to mature. In a large pot, you can often fit between two and three "medium" plants and anywhere from four to six "small" plants. (For particular plant selections, see the sections below labeled "medium containers" and "small containers.")

Containers for the Garden with a Diameter of between 10 and 18 Inches

Garden containers of medium size are an excellent choice for planting a bush or compact varieties of vegetables. When cultivating root crops such as carrots or beets, it is essential to ensure that you provide ample depth in addition to a sufficient amount of width. When it comes to carrots, you have the option of selecting kinds that mature to a length of only a few inches.

The following is a list of the best vegetables to grow in pots of medium size:

Beans in the bush
Cucumbers grown on bushes

vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

Small Containers, Ranging from 6 to 10 Inches

Garden containers that are on the smaller side are perfect for planting herbs and veggies that don't require a lot of room to grow. 

Having stated that the following are the best crops for growing in small containers:

Green onion

vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

A garden that is kept in hanging containers.

When you can't plant in the earth, you should think about planting higher up! Vertical gardening allows you to utilize the space, freeing up the ground surface for plants that require it. Some plants really perform better when they are not lying on the ground, and vertical gardening allows you to achieve that. Growing vegetables in containers that can also be hung assists in the fight against pests.
A word of advice: hanging does not necessarily mean being high. Make the ropes or chains sufficiently long so that the plants can be reached without difficulty.

The following is a list of the best plants to grow in containers that can be hung:

Planters for windows

vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

Window boxes

Window boxes can be placed anywhere, not only next to a window, and they can house more than just flowers despite the name they were given.
Some containers are designed to be hung on the side of a fence or to fit over railings, thereby converting otherwise unused space into a miniature container garden in which vegetables can be grown. Plants that have a tendency to grow vertically, require little space for their roots, and/or are self-contained are ideal for window boxes.

These are the vegetables that do well in window boxes:

Green beans
Green onion


vegetable garden beds

vegetable garden beds

Raised garden beds

Raised beds, the largest "container" of the lot, is a simple method to work past the rule of no-permanent structures, which is an issue for many tenants. A raised bed may be constructed for less than $15, and it is ideal for plants that have a tendency to wander.

Best Plants for Garden Beds: