Skip to main content

Great Container Gardens #1

Bob is a garden writer with years of growing in container experience. His ebook From My garden is widely available.

The Basics

Anyone can garden. If you read my hubs regularly you will have read this statement before, I repeat it frequently, because many people have a variety of reasons why they cannot garden.

This hub will look at a gardening method that makes it possible for people with limited, time or space to grow some of their own food, flowers or both, container gardening.

What Can Be Grown in A Container?

You can grow anything in a container that you would normally grow in your garden. It is important that the container match the mature size of the plant, imagine trying to grow a tomato plant in a two inch container and you get the idea.

Plants that are grown in containers have the same needs that plant which are grown directly into the earth do; they need enough sunlight, water, air and food, which come from the soil.

Now the container plant can be placed in the sunlight and take advantage of rain but it may get thirstier than its earth-planted relative. The plant with its roots set in the earth can send them down deep, which is what you want them to do, to access water.

Container Plants Need Extra Care.

The plant living in a pot can send roots down as well but is limited by the size of the pot and one other consideration.

The earth-planted garden has a huge number of assistants working to meet the plants needs; earthworms for example, create passages for air to reach the plant’s roots and leave their casings behind which will feed the plant.

The container plant does not have these allies. Now you can attract beneficial insects to your container plants just as you do the garden. You simply have to plan to include plants that will attract lady bugs for example.

Lady bugs are attracted by fennel, dill, cilantro, caraway, angelica, tansy, wild carrot & yarrow- as well as cosmos coreopsis, and scented geraniums, dandelions.

So you have a range of plants to work with when designing your garden.


One of the most important choices you will make when container gardening is picking a potting soil, I recommend that you purchase an organic potting soil as this will help get your plants off to a good, strong start.

The next major choice is what to plant which is based upon what space you have available; how much time you have to spend on your garden and what you want to grow.

If you are looking for a small container garden to provide some fresh food and herbs for you kitchen then you could grow tomatoes and basil together in a container. They do very well when planted as companions and they complement each other in the kitchen as well.

If possible place the container as close to your kitchen as possible so that you only need to take a minimum number of steps to harvest the basil which you can cut as needed and the tomatoes.

I usually grow cherry tomatoes in an eight inch wide pot but you can grow nay tomato variety that you wish as long as the pot is big enough.

Scroll to Continue


Plants grown in containers will often need more water than the plants that grow in the ground, spend some time getting to know how fast your containers are using the water and you will not lose any plants due to thirst.

The first knuckle rule works for outdoor container plants as well as houseplants. Stick your index finger up to the first knuckle in the soil if the soil is dry water, if not do not water; eventually you will get to know when the containers require water. Be sure to factor in rainy days.

If your container garden is located on a balcony wind may be a factor and wind will affect both temperature and watering needs.

While just about anything can be used as a plant container, you will need to be sure that the soil can drain so if you select a container that does not have a drainage hole or some other method to drain off excess water, you will need to create your own.

You can drill a hole or holes in the bottom of the container and add some gravel before you add the soil. This way the excess water will run off and the plants’ roots will not rot.

You can plant more than one plant per container, just be certain that the pot you pick is big enough for the plants you choose.

Container Gardens

Container Gardening

Container gardening



AutumnFitz on May 03, 2010:

Nice hub! These methods seem to shield against many pests also. Do you still use a bug spray when planting with these methods? I just came across this organic spray online since I have to get rid of some aphids: It gets rid of a lot of different types of bugs.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 18, 2010:

Happy Gardening

Henry on February 18, 2010:

Although I have a vegetable garden, I always use few containers also because they are handy, can keep them closer to the house and can be planted earlier (indoors) then the garden.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on May 09, 2008:


cgull8m from North Carolina on May 09, 2008:

I bought lots of containers I am going to try some of these, would love to have my own supplies.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on May 08, 2008:

starting seed indoors is a great way to get a jump on the season.

Karen Ellis from Central Oregon on May 08, 2008:

I love gardens. One year I started all of my flowers for my flower garden by seed indoors. I also do my herbs for cooking in containers. Lots of good tips - thanks.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on May 06, 2008:

containers are a great way to garden to scale.

donnaleemason from North Dakota, USA on May 06, 2008:

I used to do this in Miami. I don't know why I didn't think of doing it up here. Brilliant. The idea of digging in the garden and then fencing it off was a little daunting. I can have my veges and eat them to. Thanks.


Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on May 06, 2008:

I have read about Earth Boxes they sound promising. thanks for the comment.

Joanie Ruppel from Texas on May 06, 2008:

Great hub for folks looking for ways to grow on the patio. I'm trying out one of the Earth Box planters this year and so far it works great. I'm waiting to see how it fares when we hit 100 degrees in July.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on May 06, 2008:

My next year (2009) garden project is apple trees in containers. Thanks for the comment

tjmum from Isle of Wight on May 06, 2008:

I've grown tomatoes, carrots, starwberries, potatoes, lettuce, cucumber, peppers and spring onions in pots (as well as herbs) and have a few pot grown fruit trees as well. If you like to move house often (as I do) or have a small garden containers are fantastic. and there is nothing better than fresh fruit and veg. Even my husband will eat salad fresh from the garden. Excellent hub.

Related Articles