Skip to Content

Vegetable Container Gardening For Beginners

This post may contain affiliate links, my full disclosure can be read here. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you would love to grow your own vegetables but don’t have land for a garden then having a container garden is a great option!

There are so many container garden vegetables that you can grow even if you are a beginning gardener.

In some ways, container gardening is easier than growing in the ground.

You have almost no weeding to do, container-grown vegetables often have less pest problems and with the right care grow fast too.

How To Start A Vegetable Container Garden Anywhere text overlaid on a collage photo of lettuce on the top and potted tomatoes on the bottom.

When we lived in an apartment for a few years, I grew a lot of vegetables and herbs in containers. I loved having a nice green space and lots of fresh vegetables for our family.

Doing this also helped to save a lot of money on fresh vegetables out of our grocery budget and give our family better quality food then we could buy at the store.

Container gardening really isn’t hard and you can get started right now!

But knowing what vegetables grow well in pots, what pots to use and how to care for your plants is really important to having success.

Best Containers For Growing Vegetables

There are so many different types of planting containers available that it can sometimes feel overwhelming trying to decide what to use.

But if you focus on the basics of what your vegetables need to grow well it will make these choices so much easier.

There are 3 things you want to think about when picking planters, the depth, the width and the materials they are made from.

How Deep Should A Container Be For Vegetables?

tomato plants being grown in a container garden.

How deep your pot needs to be for vegetables really depends on what kind you are growing. Smaller vegetables like green onions, radishes, lettuce, spinach, and other smaller leafy greens can grow well in a container 6 to 8 inches deep.

Larger vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini will need a pot at least 12 inches deep but 18 inches is even better.

How Wide Do Vegetable Containers Need To Be?

Containers sized between 12 and 14 inches in diameter are good for smaller sized vegetables and herbs.

If you are growing larger plants like tomatoes, try to use a pot at least 18 to 24 inches wide.

Large flower pots, window boxes, half barrels, bushel baskets lined with plastic, and even 5-gallon buckets all make great planters for vegetables.

Once you know the size you need, next decide on what type of pot you will use.

Types Of Planters


Terra Cotta Pots with SaucerTerra Cotta Pots with SaucerTerra Cotta Pots with Saucer


When you think of flower pots the first thing that comes to mind is probably terracotta pots. These are very common pots that have been used by gardeners for a long time.

They are can be expensive containers to buy and they are very breakable and hard to move around once filled with dirt.


Gifts & Decor Jewel Tone Flower Pot Trio Embossed Earthenware PlanterGifts & Decor Jewel Tone Flower Pot Trio Embossed Earthenware PlanterGifts & Decor Jewel Tone Flower Pot Trio Embossed Earthenware Planter


Ceramic planters are more durable than terracotta and come in many fun colors.

However, the larger pots are still very heavy to move around once they are filled with soil. This can be a pain if you need to move your plants around to get the light or shade they need.


Grapevine Urban Garden PlantersGrapevine Urban Garden PlantersGrapevine Urban Garden Planters


Wood planters look beautiful in your garden and can be used for all design styles from modern to country. They last for years and are often easily left outside a bonus when growing perennial vegetables like rhubarb.

They are also hard to move once full of soil and you can have issues with the bottoms rotting out after a few years.


Metal Planter Flower Pot Succulent Container Garden Bucket for Indoor or Outdoor Balcony Patio by CEDAR HOME, 8.5Metal Planter Flower Pot Succulent Container Garden Bucket for Indoor or Outdoor Balcony Patio by CEDAR HOME, 8.5Metal Planter Flower Pot Succulent Container Garden Bucket for Indoor or Outdoor Balcony Patio by CEDAR HOME, 8.5


Metal planters are fun to use in your garden. You can buy ones made for planters or recycle old washtubs into rustic planters.

Metal planters are best used in shade gardens though because they really get hot when in direct sunlight.

This can cause damage to the roots of your plants. Another option is using a thick plastic liner inside the planter to keep the roots away from the metal.


Bloem Fiskars 20 Inch Ariana Planter with Self-Watering Grid, ChocolateBloem Fiskars 20 Inch Ariana Planter with Self-Watering Grid, ChocolateBloem Fiskars 20 Inch Ariana Planter with Self-Watering Grid, Chocolate


Plastic containers are a great option for most gardeners. They are lightweight even when filled with soil so moving your garden around when needed is much easier.

You can find plastic pots in so many styles from ones that look like real wood, ceramic, and fun bright colors. Plastic is a great planter choice if you need to start a container garden on a budget.

Even repurposing 5-gallon buckets will make great planters for vegetables. If you’re wondering if it’s safe to grow vegetables in 5-gallon buckets, the answer is they normally yes it is. But it’s important to know what type of plastic that bucket is made from and what was stored in the bucket.

Buckets made from food-grade plastic are considered safe for growing in. Make sure you always know what was stored in that bucket and that it has never had any toxic chemicals.


Classic Home and Garden HD1-1027 DisOak Whiskey Barrel, 20.5Classic Home and Garden HD1-1027 DisOak Whiskey Barrel, 20.5Classic Home and Garden HD1-1027 DisOak Whiskey Barrel, 20.5


Resin planters are another option if you’re looking for a lightweight but durable planter.

Resin planters are very durable because they are treated to resist UV rays making them last outside much longer than normal plastic planters.

They come in many colors and textures so you can find planters that look like metal or wood but are very lightweight to move around

The Best Planter For Small Spaces

Garden Tower 2 50-Plant Composting Container Garden

If you want to grow a lot of vegetables in a small space you will love the garden tower!

This is an amazing planter that lets you grow 50 plants in just 4 square feet and is easy to harvest from.

This planter is also a composter, so as your compost breaks down it feeds the plants growing inside.

Best Soil For Container Gardens

The soil you use in your container garden is so important and will have a big part in whether or not your garden is a success.

You will want a light potting mix that also has good drainage. The easiest way is to use a high-quality potting mix that peat moss, sphagnum moss and perlite or vermiculite. This gives a growing medium that holds moisture but still drains well and is lightweight.

This is our favorite potting mixture and we’ve used it for years for seed starting and containers with great results.

Another option is to use a good quality compost. You’d want to make sure that it’s not too heavy, adding some sharp sand can help improve drainage if needed to.

We often use homemade compost and then screen it well and use this finger product for our container gardens. It really helps the plants grow well and is already packed with natural fertilizer.

Avoid using potting soil as it’s really too heavy to use in containers. But if you can get it at good price add in some compost and vermiculite to lighten it up.

Best Vegetables For Container Gardens

You might think that growing in containers is limiting but it’s not.

It’s all about knowing which vegetables grow best in containers to have a great gardening experience.

Easy To Grow Vegetables For Container Gardens

1. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables grown in backyard gardens and are a great choice for container gardens too!

To have the best results growing tomatoes in contains make sure to grow determinate (bush) types. These tomatoes grow to be smaller plants, unlike indeterminate tomatoes that can grow over 6 feet tall.

Cherry tomatoes are another great choice for container growing because they have very high yields. Just a few plants will give you all the tomatoes you could ever want for snacks and salads all summer.

Tomatoes will need a larger sized pot and lots of sunlight, at least 6 hours for the best growing results.

2. Peppers

Peppers are easy to grow in containers as long as you have a warm sunny place. They do grow to be fairly large plants so make sure to use a pot that is at least 12 inches deep.

3. Beans

Both bush beans and pole beans are very easy to grow in containers. If you are growing pole beans make sure to place a good trellis along the back of the container. Better yet fix it to a wall or fence and place the pot up against that.

If you plant the pole beans along the back edge of a large container you can plant other lower growing vegetables in front of the beans.

Lettuce, kale and other leafy greens are a great choice for this. Pole beans will keep producing beans for you all summer as long as you keep them picked often.

Bush beans, on the other hand, don’t need any extra support but bush out quite a bit.

They are best planted in their own container without other vegetables. Bush beans give you a larger flush of beans all at once and then slow down or stop producing new beans.

4. Lettuce

Lettuce is a very easy plant to grow in containers. The best varieties to grow in pots are leaf lettuces because as they grow you can pick off the larger outer leaves from the plant. The smaller leaves will continue to grow quickly producing your next harvest.

By harvesting lettuce this way you can get several weeks of harvesting off just one planting.

Lettuce will grow best in a wide planter that is about 6 inches deep.

5. Spinach

Spinach is a perfect vegetable for growing in containers. This fast-growing plant will grow well in partial shade, and once the hot summer weather arrives a shady area is the best place to keep it from bolting (going to seed).

Just like lettuce a wide pot that is about 6 to 8 inches deep is a great choice for growing spinach.

6. Peas

You can grow any type of peas in containers but my favourite is snow peas. They grow quickly and go further in cooking then peas that have to be shelled.

Make sure to grow a dwarf type unless you want to provide a tall trellis. Most bushier types of peas don’t need support at all but would still appreciate some support if you live in a windy area.

The easiest way to make a mini trellis for peas is to place a small tomato cage inside the pot and then plant the seeds around the base of that.

Peas will grow well in full sun or part shade, but make sure to keep the soil moist.

7. Zucchini

Yes, even zucchini can be successfully grown in containers! For the best results try to grow a smaller, more compact type of zucchini and use a large container.

Zucchini likes moist soil so water often and add some mulch to the container to help lock in the moisture.

8. Green Onions

Green onions are so easy to grow in pots. You can plant them on their own but they are also perfect to tuck in around other plants.

For higher yields simply cut the green leaves off leaving the white part in the soil. The onion will keep growing back new leaves for you to harvest all summer.

9. Eggplant

Just like tomatoes and peppers, their cousin eggplant is a great vegetable for your container garden. Make sure to keep it in a warm and bright area and fertilize it often for the best results.

10. Cucumbers

You may be surprised to find out that cucumbers grow very well in container gardens. While they can produce very long vines 6 feet long or more, it’s best to grow bush types in pots.

Plant them in a medium to large-sized pot and make sure to keep them well watered. Use a small trellis to tie the vines to as they grow. This will make it easier to harvest the cucumbers rather than letting them sprawl along your balcony.

11. Carrots

Carrots are perfect for growing in containers. The nice loose soil means that they grow quickly and produce nice long straight roots.

Carrots do need a lot of moisture so make sure to keep the soil well-watered. Keep the pot in a partly shaded area because carrots prefer cooler growing weather.

12. Radishes

Radishes are a crazy fast-growing vegetable and a great choice for your container garden.

Most varieties will do well in pots 6 inches deep but if you are growing the giant varieties use an 8 to 10-inch pot.

Radishes prefer cooler growing conditions, so keep them in a shady area of your garden.

13. Turnips

Turnips are another root vegetable that works well for container gardens. Like radishes and carrots, they prefer cooler growing weather so a shady area is perfect for them.

The greens, as well as the roots, are edible so you can take a light harvest of leaves while you wait for the roots to mature.

14. Swiss chard

Swiss chard is a great cool-season vegetable but also grows well in the heat of the summer, unlike spinach.

Chard will grow well in a smaller sized pot. Normally you should space the plants at least 6 inches apart but if you are growing them for baby greens a 2-inch spacing will work well.

15. Kale

Kale is one of those hardy plants that can grow just about anywhere. If you want to grow large plants then you’ll need a larger pot about 12 inches deep. But if you just want to grow baby greens a smaller container will work well.

You can easily harvest the entire plant at once or just keep cutting off a few leaves at a time.

16. Mustard Greens

Mustard greens can be grown for large leaves for cooking or baby greens perfect for salads. Unlike kale, mustard greens love the warm summer heat, so keep them in a sunny area of your garden.

17. Collard Greens

Collard greens are a great alternative to growing cabbage in containers. Unlike cabbage that needs to form ahead before you harvest it collard leaves can be picked throughout the growing season.

18. Garlic

Homegrown garlic has an amazing flavor you just can’t get from the store. Growing garlic is really easy too!

Make sure to use a container that is 6 to 8 inches deep and space the cloves about 4 inches apart.

Softneck garlic can be started in the spring but if you are growing hardneck garlic it will need to be started in the fall so it can go through a cold spell in the winter.

How To Start A Container Vegetable Garden

Container Vegetable and Herb Garden

1. Pick The Container

Once you have decided what vegetables you want to grow, use the tips above to help you decided what material and size of container is best for your garden.

2. Drainage

Once you’ve decided what container you want to use, make sure that it has drainage holes in the bottom. If it doesn’t then use a drill to add a few holes to let the excess water drain out.

If the holes in the container are very large you can prevent soil from being washed out by placing a piece of burlap or even some coffee filters in the bottom. Either of these options will allow the water to drain out but keep the soil in.

3. Add The Soil

Fill up your planter 2 inches from the top with good quality potting mix. You can use a purchased mix or make your own. Just make sure the soil is good quality, lightweight and well-draining.

4. Plant

Now once your container is ready, make some holes in the soil and arrange the plants to your liking. If needed add some extra soil to make sure each plant’s roots are deep enough.

5. Mulch

Mulching your planters is optional but really helps to retain moisture. A thin layer of wood chips or even grass clippings make a great much for containers.

6. Water

Water you’re containers deeply! The smaller the container the faster they will dry out but even large containers will need frequent watering.

Make sure to check your pots daily and water as needed. If you have a hard time telling when the soil is dry you can use a moisture gauge like this one.

Normally watering once a day will be enough for most container gardens, but in extremely hot weather you may need to water morning and evening.

If you aren’t able to keep up with watering plants then try using a drip system on a timer or self-watering pots.

Vegetable Container Gardening Is Worth It

Container gardening is well worth it whether your growing vegetables in pots on your balcony or simply adding extra growing space in your backyard garden.

What are your favorite vegetables to grow in containers?

Connect With Homestead Acres!

Be sure to follow me on social media, so you never miss a post!

Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Twitter

Visit my Amazon store to find all my favorite gardening, homesteading tools, and gadgets plus all of my printed garden books and journals!