vegetable planter box for home gardening

Vegetable Container Gardening for Beginners: Everything You Should Know

Growing vegetables in containers is an easy hobby to cultivate that produces measurable, delicious results. Whether you have a tiny living space or you just want to brighten up your balcony with some greens, vegetable container gardens are a great choice! If you’re a newbie to the gardening world, Patio Growers is here to help you develop your green thumb with comprehensive guides and support. Become a pro in no time when you follow our guide today!

- Lighting & Temperature

Before you start exploring easy vegetables to grow in pots, you need to assess the lighting and temperature in your space to discover what type of climate you can provide for your plants. Understanding the light and temperature in your home are critical components of vegetable container gardening for beginners. 

Generally, most vegetables need full sun, which means six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Veggies also prefer middling temperatures between 60℉ and 80℉. If you live in a particularly hot climate or somewhere with a lot of sun, you should be prepared to shade your plants. To get an accurate read on your climate, you can use a sun calculator to analyze your space or check the area every 30 minutes to see how the sun moves through it.

- Watering

Next up on the vegetable container gardening for beginners checklist is watering. Most vegetables, like lettuce and tomatoes, require a ton of water. But you don’t want to drown your plants. Watering frequently to ensure the soil is consistently moist — not sopping wet — is the key. You can also consider getting an automated watering system to ensure your plants are getting the water they need, even if you forget!

You can check your soil to see if it needs water by sticking your finger at least an inch down into it. If it’s dry, it’s time to water. At the peak of summer, you may need to water your plants once per day!

- Potting Soil

person touching potting soil

A high-quality potting mix is essential for healthy, delicious vegetables. You don’t want to use any old soil, like what you have in your garden outside. We recommend browsing your local hardware store for soils and potting mixes designed explicitly for the veggies you plan on growing. A targeted potting soil allows for a few plant care errors that occur when you’re starting out gardening, as it often has extra nutrients and fertilization to make up for the occasional forgetfulness or lack of experience.

- Drainage

    While dehydrating your plants is one danger of vegetable container gardening for beginners, drowning them is also a big problem. Make sure your containers have drainage holes to prevent excess water from pooling at the bottom, and elevate your plants on a frame so the water has somewhere to escape and evaporate.

    Too much moisture can cause plant roots to rot, killing your plant from the bottom up. Often, you don’t even realize your plant is rotting until it’s far too late. Keep an eye on the soil moisture to prevent overwatering, and double-check drainage before repotting your veggies.

    - Fertilization

    Even if your potting mix already has a blend of nutrients, you’ll still need to provide occasional fertilization to provide your plants with enough food to grow. Every couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to mix some liquid fertilizer into your watering can to douse your plants with an extra burst of nutrition. Some of the best fertilizers that are ideal for vegetable container gardening for beginners include liquid seaweed and liquid fish emulsion.

    -The Right Containers

    plants in various types of pots

    We’ve already talked about how important drainage is to vegetable container gardening for beginners, but you still have a lot of pot options to explore. Some of the most popular containers for gardening include:

    • Wood
    • Ceramic
    • Plastic
    • Metal

    You may find that some of your plants are temperamental, preferring one type of container over another. There won’t always be a reason for which pots they’ll like most, but a few general rules can help you decide:

    • Metal containers will heat up in the sun and increase the chance of burning plant roots
    • Terra cotta pots may shatter in very cold environments, leaving your plants damaged
    • Wood containers may start to rot after several seasons, affecting plant roots
    • Clay containers allow water to evaporate from the soil more quickly, meaning more watering is necessary

    - Choosing Your Veggies

      Now it’s finally time to choose your plants. We recommend opting for easy vegetables to grow in pots like:

      Ready to get started? Check out our grow guides for more information about specific vegetables today!