The Complete Guide to Container Gardening for Beginners

With the promise of cool temperatures and frost right around the corner, planting a fall or winter garden can be daunting. Now is the time that we are oh so thankful for the vessel that allows us to transport our gardens to the safety of the indoors. 

Container gardens make it possible to plant your garden late in the season, and still have a beautiful and successful harvest. Learn everything you need to know about starting your container vegetable garden with our Complete Guide to Container Gardening for Beginners. 

What is Container Gardening?

Container Garden Kits

Container gardening is the green-thumb hack that you didn’t know you needed. We love container gardening because it makes the growing season less restricting, while it also serves as a fun way to get creative with your garden. 

Growing a container garden is the practice of growing plants in any sort of container – this can look like a window box or (our personal favorite) a grow bag!

Grow bags are a great vessel for the plants you want to grow because they can be transported indoors once the weather gets too cold. You can also put your grow bags inside of other cute containers, such as baskets or extra-large pots.

Choosing to grow your vegetable garden in a container is also a fantastic option for those living in apartments or small spaces without yards. If you do have a yard, experiment with your garden by planting some new vegetables or herbs in a container this year. 

Container Garden Planting Guide

Keep in mind that the larger your container, the easier it will be to take care of your container garden. This is because larger containers, or large pots, can hold more garden soil, which stays moist for longer. This serves as a type of protection for your garden plants because it resists severe fluctuations in temperature. 

When you are planting your garden, you do not want to place your garden plants too close together. If you overcrowd your garden, it can lead to stunted growth, the quick spread of disease, and simple difficulties with harvesting your crops. 

A good rule of thumb for spacing out your container vegetable plants is to keep in mind how big your plants will grow.

For example, if you are using our 7 gallon grow bag, which measures 13” tall and 17” wide, you will comfortably be able to grow about 3-4 plants in this container. 

For a visual reference, take a look at the spacing diagrams that Proven Winners included in their container gardening guide. 

Optimal Soil for Container Gardening

Container Gardening Soil

When it comes to choosing the right potting soil for your container garden, taking the time to do some research definitely pays off. The soil that you choose for your garden will become your plant’s home, so you need to be sure that it suits your plant’s needs as well as possible.

The most important characteristics of container garden soil are aeration, good drainage, and the ability to hold and store nutrients.

Once you have chosen a great potting soil for your garden, you can add things like compost and fertilizer (fish emulsion is a favorite) or perlite and bark to help increase drainage.

To learn more about the fascinating details of your garden’s dirt, take a look at this informative conversation we had with soil expert, David Mayer. 

When & How Much to Water Your Container Garden

Little Girl Watering Container Garden

Watering is the most nuanced aspect of taking care of your container garden. Every plant that you grow will have different preferences, and the climate in which your garden grows also plays a role in how you water your garden!

Regardless of where you live, be careful not to overwater your garden; overwatering is the most common cause of plant deaths.

When you water your plants you want to make sure your container has proper drainage, as well as that you are paying close attention to the state of your plant’s soil. 

A container with drainage and aeration, like the Gardenuity, grow bag, will allow for your plant to be properly watered, while also not making the roots sit in the water for too long.

If your container does not have a drainage system, this can cause your plant’s roots to become oversaturated with water and eventually rot. 

A good rule of thumb when it comes to deciding when to water your plant is to turn your attention to the soil. We like to do something called the “thumb test”, which entails sticking your thumb into the top inch of the soil; if your soil is still moist, you do not need to water your plant.

If the top inch of your plant’s soil is dry, it’s time for some water!

Additionally, you want to water your plant’s soil when you water it – not just the leaves. You want to make sure the roots are able to soak up the water you’re providing for them. 

Finally, when it comes to determining the amount of water that your plant needs, having a container with drainage makes this significantly easier. It is a great practice to water your plant deeply and thoroughly, but not too often (remember the thumb test!).

Water your plant until the water starts flowing out of the bottom of your container, and then allow it to continue to drain after you are done watering. 

Rest assured that when you purchase your container garden through Gardenuity, we have an intuitive, complimentary Grow-Pro service that will give you watering updates and tips regularly. 

For more tips about watering your container garden, take a look at our expertly written article on container garden watering tips!

How to Create Optimal Drainage

Creating a beneficial drainage system for your garden is imperative to the prosperity of your plants. If you plant your garden in a container that does not have a drainage hole, or multiple drainage holes, your plant’s roots are likely to rot from oversaturation and suffocation. 

If you do choose to plant your garden in your own container, be careful to choose a container that can provide a healthy environment for your garden. This means that it needs to be big enough to support the root systems of your plants, as well as having one or more drainage holes in the bottom.

Most pots, planters, or window boxes that you will buy at the local nursery do not have drainage holes in them already.

If you do want to see your plants grown in pots, you need to drill a hole in the bottom.

Be careful not to break your pot in the process!

The process of creating drainage can be difficult if you do not have access to the right tools or information. Fear not – when you purchase your Gardenuity container garden kit, you can be sure that you are receiving a container that has been perfectly tailored to help your plants thrive.

How to Choose the Right Container

Container Garden Container

Choosing the right type of container for your garden is also a tricky task to navigate. After you ensure that your container has the necessary drainage for your plants, you need to consider the size and type of material that your container is made out of. 

When you grow your garden, the goal is for your plants to flourish. This means that your plants will get bigger; when you’re choosing your container, you need to be careful to take into account how your plant will not always be as small as it is when you initially plant it in the garden soil.

Choose a container that your plant can grow into.

If your garden is going to be grown in pots, you need to take into account the amount of water your plant prefers, and choose your container accordingly. Certain materials absorb water more than others do.

For example, if you are planting in a terra cotta potter, you should note that this clay material will absorb more water than a ceramic pot would. 

How to Choose Vegetables for your Container Garden

The glory of planting your garden in a container is that seasonality becomes less of a restriction and more of a preference for your plant’s growing conditions.

This being said, there are some veggies that love being planted in a container garden more than others.

Take a look at this list for some of the best vegetables & herbs for container gardening!

  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Beets
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Bok Choy/Baby Choy
  • Jalapeños
  • Arugula
  • Sage
  • Garlic

Now is the perfect time to start your fall container garden. If you are reading up in preparation for your spring container garden, take a look at this article for some extra information. 

Tips for Starting Your Container Garden

A Beginner Gardener with Container Garden

Starting out with a new project, like container gardening, can be intimidating, but we are here to help you!

Before you start your new garden, you will want to pick the right spot for your container, think about what veggies you want to grow, and get excited!

Additionally, take a look at these 3 Quick Tips for Starting your Container Garden

Get Started in One Step

Your new container garden will be oh so fulfilling, but does require a lot of preparation if you are planning on going in solo.

Make your introduction to container gardening stress-free and excited by choosing to start a Gardenuity container garden kit; we have thought through all of these tedious steps to starting a garden, and we have gathered all of the materials and information you need – all in one beautiful package!

We can’t wait to grow with you!

Container Gardening for Beginners