When you think of container gardens you may think of annual flowers, but containers are a great way to grow herbs and vegetables, too! Container gardening can save space and money. Even if you have a lot of space, planting in containers gives you more control over soil and growing conditions. Maybe the best part of container gardening is that you can start small. As you get comfortable with what you are growing, you can add more plants and varieties to your garden.

Here are some tips that will help you with your container garden:

Make the most of your space.

Buying and using containers in a variety of sizes will make the most of your space if you don’t have a lot. Place containers on the ground, on tabletops, and on windowsills. Purchase hanging planters if you have somewhere to hang them. These are great for some types of tomatoes and strawberries. You may also choose to plant more than one type of plant in a container at one time.

Light matters.

Most herbs and vegetables require full sun, so this is important when choosing a location for your containers. There are some exceptions to this, so save shadier spots for cool loving crops.

Get good dirt.

Be sure to use good quality potting soil to fill your containers. You should not use top soil or soil that you dig yourself from the ground. This will be too heavy and become compacted once put in containers. If you can’t mix your own soil, buying good quality soil is worth the investment. It will yield better crops. See the section on Container Soils and Fertilizers for more information.

Choose your crops wisely.

Some plants thrive in containers, while others you will probably have no luck with. Crops like radishes and lettuce grow quickly and do great in containers. Large crops such as corn will produce little to no yield, if they even stay alive throughout the season. Try to pick vegetables that produce high yields for the best results.

Here are some suggestions for mixed edible containers:

  • Tomatoes, hot peppers, and Thai basil- great for a hot sunny location
  • Snow peas, bok choy, and basil- great for creating Asian inspired dishes
  • Herbs and strawberries- plant strawberries in a strawberry pot saving the top space for a herb, such as rosemary
  • Tomatoes and marigolds- marigolds often keep pests away from tomatoes and many marigolds are edible. Make sure you know which variety you are buying!

Whatever crops you end up choosing, the main thing to keep in mind is to not overdo it if you are a first time gardener. You want to be able to enjoy all aspects of having and keeping a container garden. Trying to do too much at once may leave you feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.