Container Gardening 101

Welcome to Container Gardening 101!  Having a small backyard space doesn’t mean you can’t grow fresh fruits and veggies.  If you have a bucket, you are good to GROW!  We’ll take you step-by-step through the ins and outs of Container Gardening 101.

Getting Started:
First, find a sunny spot where your plants will get plenty of sunshine to support growth.  Next, find containers that you can use to grow your garden.  You can use recycled tin cans, mason jars, cut up milk jugs, pails and buckets, drums, and more. The possibilities are endless, so think outside of the raised garden box and see what you can find laying around!  Bonus points for recycling and reusing packaging, plus it will save you money!

Next, get a plan! Going to a store or farmer’s market for seeds and sprouts can be overwhelming.  Start a list of what you want to grow and check to be sure you have the space for everything to avoid over or under buying.  We have great ideas listed in the next section to get you started.  Once you know what you will be planting, it is time to go pick up your supplies.  You will need to purchase seeds or sprouts, potting or compost soil, gardening gloves, gardening tools to help with digging up the dirt, and a watering can.

Once you have your supplies, it is time to start filling your containers and planting your seeds. Fill each container with soil and plant your seeds according to the seed packet planting instructions. If you are planting sprouts, make sure to give them a few inches of space around the roots so they have plenty of room to grow and expand.

That’s it…well sort of!  You will want to check on your plants daily.  Make sure to water them if it hasn’t rained recently and they are looking dry.  Once you start to see sprouts, monitor to make sure they aren’t being nibbled on by insects, small animals, etc.

What to Plant:
There are so many delicious options that will grow wonderfully in containers.  Here is a list of some really great choices.

*   Tomatoes
*   Peppers
*   Eggplant
*   Green Onions
*   Beans
*   Lettuce
*   Squash
*   Radishes
*   Parsley

Pole Beans and Cucumbers can also be grown in containers, but you will want to allow for more space for them to spread out due to their vining growth habits.

*   Blueberries
*   Cherries
*   Figs
*   Gooseberries
*   Peaches
*   Nectarines
*   Raspberries
*   Plums
*   Strawberries
*   Apples
*   Blackcurrants

DO’s & DON’Ts:

DON’T forget to monitor your plants daily to be sure they aren’t getting too much/not enough water and sunshine. Containers will dry out faster than garden beds, so you may need to water daily in some climates!

DO check your plants to be sure birds, small animals, and insects aren’t eating them.
DO research the plants you decide to grow to determine the best environment/care instructions for them.  For instance, tomatoes require full sun while herbs and lettuce only need a couple hours of good sun per day.  Seed packets should also have specific details printed on them to help guide you.

DO put your container in a place where you will remember to care for it. As the old saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”.  Keep your container somewhere you walk past each day if possible so you can give it the care it needs.

DO look up new recipes to try with the home-grown produce you harvest. Check out the books “Asparagus to Zucchini” or “Six Seasons” for inspiration.

DON’T get down on yourself if something you plant doesn’t work out. Many factors go into a successful harvest, so keep your chin up and try again!

DON’T let your delicious food go to waste. If you have a bountiful harvest and can’t eat everything yourself, share the love with your friends, family, neighbors, or even a local food pantry.  And I’m sure your coworkers wouldn’t mind sampling your harvest either!

Here are some great resources if you are looking for more information: