small-space-container-gardenStarting a small garden is simple and attainable by anyone, whether you’re looking to start a large traditional garden or if you just want to have some herbs in your window sill. Starting a container garden is a great option for many people with little space and is a great place to start if you’re new to gardening.

Why a Container Garden?

As I stated above container gardens are a great option for people with little space. They can be arranged on a patio or deck and are great for people who want to have a garden but live in an apartment or condo with little or no yard. Container gardens are also a great option for someone that is new to gardening. They require little investment and make it easy to try out a few different vegetables or herbs without a ton of investment of time or money.

Decide What You Want to Grow

The first thing you will need to decide is what you would like to grow. There are so many options to choose from, if you want to grow tomatoes or peppers many seed catalogs offer plants that are meant to grow in a container. Here are a few more ideas:potted-orange-tree

  • Lettuce
  • Zucchini
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Fruit Trees (they have trees specifically designed for containers)

These are just a few of the things that you could put into containers, the possibilities really are endless. If you’re unsure of what you want to try will grow, you can always just experiment, I feel like it’s worth a try.

One of my biggest experiments was a lemon tree. I decided to try to sprout a lemon seed once, from a lemon that you buy from the grocery store. I didn’t have it for long enough to get it to fruit, or even find out if it would fruit, but it grew and by the time I got rid of it the tree was about 4 feet tall!

Deciding on a Container

Once you’ve decided on what you’d like to grow you need to take container size into account. If you want to grow tomatoes or peppers you will want a larger container with at least a one-foot diameter. If you choose a smaller container I would put lettuce or herbs in it. To grow a root vegetable like carrots you will want a container with at least a depth of one-foot.

Your biggest investment with container gardens in generally the containers. There are so many containers to choose from when you go to the garden store.

  • Terracotta – These are a good option as they are generally a little less expensive. I have found though that you have to be really good about Terrecotta-potswatering your plants as the pot itself soaks up much of the water
  • Ceramic – These are generally coated and colorful. They don’t require you to water quite as much or as often and they are a great option if you’re looking for something stylish to not only grow your food but also decorate your space.
  • Plastic – Another inexpensive option, that is also colorful. Though plastic can crack over time if it’s exposed to lots of direct sunlight or freezing temperatures.
  • Bags – Many garden stores sell cloth garden bags as well. These are a great option for carrots, or other root vegetables like radishes or beets.
  • Reused containers – Getting containers doesn’t always have to be expensive though. You can always re-purpose containers you have on hand. Think, the big yogurt tubs for herbs or lettuce, maybe a 5 gallon bucket you have in the shed for peppers or tomatoes, an old burlap bag for potatoes. Anything can be a container for your garden as long as it holds dirt, .

Determining the Correct Soil

Once you have your seeds or starts and containers it’s time to get some dirt. I recommend getting some good quality potting soil from your local garden store. You can also chat with them there about what type of soil is going to be best for what you plan on planting. There are generally several types of dirt or manure in bags and you might end up wanting a mixture. You may also want to consider putting some sort of gravel at the bottom of your pots to aid in the drainage of your plants. Getting fertilizer for your plants will also be key in your success, the potting soil you buy will have some nutrients in it but the plants will use this up quickly.

You Are Well on Your Way

Now that you have all your materials it’s time to plant your container garden! You’ve decided you want to try to grow some of the food you consume and maybe don’t have much room. So you choose a few containers for your deck or kitchen windowsill, you’ve chosen what you’d like to grow, purchased containers that meet the plants needs and your aesthetic, bought some soil for said containers and planted your seeds. Now it’s time to wait for your seeds to sprout and enjoy the harvest that is sure to ensue.

Feel free to share some of your success stories, or not so successful stories below (they happen). I’d love to hear how your container garden is growing!

  1. Thanks for this great post! My dream is to live in the country, with some land, so I can have a big garden. As for now though, we live in the city…so we don’t have the space for one. I still wanted to be able to grow though so this is perfect! Do you have a specific soil that you recommend using?
    Thanks much!

    • Thanks for reading Abby! I don’t have any specific soil recommendations right now, some of it will depend on what you’d like to grow. Generally a generic potting soil is a good place to start, you can also mix some manure in with that to add some nutrients to it. You will also want to pick up some fertilizer since your plants will use up what is in the soil to begin with fairly quickly.

  2. I started when I was just a little toddler, too. I love to garden. This read brings me to nostalgia. You are doing a good deed, teaching people how to grow in small spaces—-good for you.

    God bless

  3. I loved reading your article, as I’ve been interested in container gardening for my deck. The information about soil was especially helpful. I didn’t think of putting rocks on the bottom of the containers and haven’t really considered getting fertilizer. I would love to know more about using fertilizers. Thanks for the interesting post. -Shirley

    • Thanks for reading my article Shirley, fertilizer isn’t something that I considered with my first container garden either. Looking back it might have made a difference for some of the plants I tried to grow in containers. I’ll be doing more research on fertilizers and what is best in the future.

  4. Great article. My wife and I live in an apartment, with a small patio, and my wife has been able to grow some Japanese Shiso and some tomatoes out of pots, and they did well. I’ll show her this article and your site overall. I’m sure we’ll get lots of useful information and tips as you continue adding more to your site!

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