Growing In Containers, A Quick Overview of the Basics

Growing in containers is an easy way to get started gardening in almost any size space. There are some things to think about of you want to grow in containers. Below I share some basic tips to get you growing in containers right away.

Container Size 

There are as many sizes to choose from as there are ways to garden. Knowing which size is best may take a little research, but here are some general optimum size guidelines for some of the most popular fruits, vegetables and herbs: 

  • Basil – 2 Gallons With 3-4 plants spaced evenly
  • Beans – 5 Gallons With 2-4 plants per container. (Make sure to trellis any pole varieties.)
  • Beets – 1+ Gallons Number of plants is dependent on size of pot. (Example: 2 Gallon sized pot, aim for 3-4 plants.)
  • Carrots – 2 Gallons, Opt for taller containers so they have room to grow.
  • Chard – 5 Gallons, Space 2 plants evenly or plant one and leaf lettuce around the base of the plant.
  • Kale – 5 Gallons, Same as chard.
  • Peppers – 5 Gallons, One single plant.
  • Squash – 10-15 Gallons, Depending on size and variety plant 1-2 plants per container.
  • Tomatoes – Determinate 10 – 15 Gallons (Same as peppers), Indeterminate 20 Gallons with trellis for support with 1-2 plants depending on growing style. (Pruning to one single leader versus allowing suckers to grow wild.)

Watering & Feeding

When it comes to growing in containers, you are going to have to water them more often. Their small size and drainage make them dry out much faster than raised beds or in ground beds. The amount of watering you will need to do will be highly dependent on your climate, plant, container size and air temperature. In the heat of the summer I often am watering my containers 2 times a day. With the extra watering that is needed comes an extra need to feed to soil and plants more often. All the water that drains out of the container takes with it nutrients from the soil, making your plants and soil need more feeding. Whichever feeding methods you use, always follow package directions for plants in containers. (Don’t over do it or you can kill your plants.)


Where you place your containers will depend on your growing space. You can easily fit many containers in a small space. You can get creative, just make sure wherever you are placing your containers that the platform they are on can hold the weight of your containers with heavy wet soil and plants. I place containers in whatever spot is open that will have an ideal amount of light for the plants(s) growing in the container. This year I am adding 15 gallon grow bags to the south end of my raised beds in my kitchen garden. You can line them up, space them out, stagger them, etc. the choice is yours. When planting keep in mind that you want taller plants in the north and short plants to the south for optimal sunlight.


There are many options for containers. My favorite happen to be grow bags, but I also have porcelain, terracotta, plastic, etc. in various places for various purposes. The reason I like to use grow bags so much is because they are easy to care for and do not require special treatment/ storage in the winter. Terracotta pots and porcelain pots need to be moved to warmer stable temperatures in winter. They can crack and break into pieces with fluctuating temperatures. (This has happened to me more than once.) As for soil, it is really simple, you want to use make a mix/recipe or purchase bagged soil mix that is meant specifically for containers. Always opt for organic and remember that when it comes to soil, quality comes first, stay away from cheap soil for containers.

Growing in containers is a good option for both small space gardening and larger gardens. Tucking in containers in open spaces can give you more growing options and allows you to have beautiful pollinator loving flowers if you don’t want to grow more fruit, vegetables or herbs. The choices are numerous for what can be grown in containers. There are many options that have been bred specifically for container and small space gardening. When browsing seed catalogs or websites you will be sure to find varieties that will excel in containers. You can also try “regular” varieties, just make sure the container is the proper size for the mature plant. Make sure you add any supports/trellises/cages if needed. Also, as mentioned above water and feed as needed. Growing in containers is a fantastic way to get started gardening. I hope this information inspires you to see how easy it is to get started. If you have more questions, please leave them in the comments!

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