Container Gardening With Vegetables and Herbs

If you don’t have a good garden spot in your yard, why not grow some vegetables and herbs using container gardening?

| April/May 2012

The most personal way to forge a connection with delicious food crops — from arugula to tomatoes — is to grow them up close in containers. Special methods are needed to produce high-quality food crops in containers, because most vegetables and herbs grow best when planted in the ground. Stable soil temperatures and constant access to water, nutrients and microscopic soil allies give in-ground crops a clear advantage.

But if growing edibles in the ground is not an option due to a lack of backyard space, destructive pets or homeowner association rules, then growing some crops in containers on your porch, patio or fire escape may be the solution. Also, if you have problems with your site or soil that prevent in-ground gardening, then container gardening may allow you to avoid some of these problems:

Shade from buildings and trees can be minimized by moving container-grown vegetables to your sunniest spots, which change with the seasons.

Soil pH barriers can be overcome by using custom soil mixes to grow plants that need more or less acidic soil conditions than are common in your area. For example, containers are a good way to grow acid-loving strawberries or potatoes if your soil is naturally neutral or alkaline.

Protection from soilborne pests, from nematodes to voles, and greatly reduced weed problems are natural benefits of container gardening. Where soilborne diseases such as tomato Fusarium are common, containers are an easy way to grow lovely ‘Yellow Pear’ tomatoes and other susceptible varieties.

Contaminated soil from toxic lead in old paint, termite pesticides applied to your home’s foundation, chemicals that have leached from treated wood, and other hazards, should not be a problem as long as you use good quality soil mix. (These concerns are especially relevant on urban and reclaimed lots.)

5/31/2016 2:55:12 AM

I think it is possible to cool plant roots by placing the container in a shallow water. Of course, it is not always easy and will create humid atmosphere which is not always desirable.

6/21/2014 2:58:01 PM

June, 2014. A neighbor and I are doing lots of experimenting with container gardening. This leads me to question the use of light-colored container. On the same day, she planted 2 tomato plants in a large black tote adjacent to a raised bed. She planted 2 of the same sort and size in the raised bed. A week later, the plants in the tote were twice the size of those in the bed.

Suzie Blodgett
5/2/2012 1:02:32 PM

Please consider sharing your excess garden harvest with hungry neighbors in need! Find a local food pantry at If pantries in your community have not yet registered, please encourage them to do so by sharing

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