5 Great Containers for Growing Vegetables

  • 01 of 07

    Containers and Pots for Growing Vegetables

    shrubs and plants

    Choosing a container for growing vegetables can be confusing and overwhelming. The choice can have a big impact on how productive your plants are and if they will survive. The main thing to keep in mind is to make sure that your vegetable plant has enough room for the roots to expand. If you are growing large plants (tomatoes), make sure that the pot will be big and heavy enough so the plant won't tip over in a stiff wind. For most vegetables, bigger pots are better.

    The more soil your pot holds the more room for error you will have because the soil is what holds nutrition and water for your plants and a greater volume of soil will retain water and nutrition for longer.

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  • 02 of 07

    Earthboxes are My Favorite Container For Growing Vegetables

    potted plants along path leading to dock

    If we had to pick one container for growing vegetables, it would be an Earthbox. These large, self-watering boxes, are extremely water-efficient, fertilizer efficient and easy to use. We have found that the manufacturer's claim, that an Earthbox can provide double the harvest compared to growing vegetables conventionally, is credible. Not only found that growing vegetables in Earthboxes increases yield, but the size of the vegetables tends to be larger than those grown in other containers.

    Earthboxes are a little pricey to buy, but they are very durable and are worth the cost. We have used several of mine for over 8 years and they are as good as new. The manufacturer told me they have some that are over 25 years old and that they are still functioning like new.

    The best news about the Earthbox is that if you keep the reservoir full of water, your plants will get the amount of water they need to thrive and this is perhaps (along with the right amount of sun) the most important thing for vegetables--particularly tomatoes.

    While we have tried other grow boxes, by other manufacturers, and they worked well, the Earthbox is my favorite for its durability, simplicity, and functionality.

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  • 03 of 07

    Smart Pots are Economical and Plant Friendly

    Corn in a Smart Pot
    © Kerry Michaels

    Smart Pots are made of a black polypropylene and are fantastic for growing all kinds of vegetables and herbs. Since they are made of breathable fabric, Smart Pots are good for the roots of your plants, preventing them from becoming root bound. Smart Pots are lightweight, economical, and are particularly great for growing potatoes and tomatoes. We've also had success growing lettuce, herbs, blueberries, tomatillos, and eggplant. These fabric pots come in a wide variety of sizes, including a "Big Bag Bed," which is equivalent to a good sized raised bed. Smart Pots are also great for urban gardeners and those of us who are storage space challenged -- at the end of the season, you just wash them, fold them up and store them. 

    You can also cut X's into the sides of the pots for side planting, which not only maximizes your growing space, it looks cool too.

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  • 04 of 07

    Reusable Grocery Bag Gardens

    Tomato Plant in a Reuable Grocery Bag
    © Kerry Michaels

    We don't know what it is about plastic reusable grocery bags, but my herbs and vegetable plants seem to love them. We use the type of bags that are soft-sided and have smooth plastic outside and flannel or fabric on the reverse side. The ones that are all fabric don't usually last for the whole summer and can quickly disintegrate. We have had great luck growing all kinds of tomatoes in them; from giant indeterminate sprawlers to the more petite and well-behaved patio-sized plants. We have also grown herbs, lettuce, peas and potatoes and flowering plants in the bags, all with huge success.

    One cautionary note: Some bags are made of plastic, that when it disintegrates can be harmful.

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  • 05 of 07

    Grow Great Vegetables in Straw Bale Gardens

    Straw Bale Gardens
    Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    One of the many advantages of growing a straw bale garden is that it allows you to grow a vegetable garden on any surface. Have a sunny driveway? Plant your garden right on top of it. Making a straw bale garden is also one of the easiest and least expensive ways to get a fairly big growing space without digging a garden. We like the look of it, but it is distinct, as my kids would call it, “farm,” looking, we call it cool and informal. By the end of the season, as the bales kind of disintegrate, the garden looks more than a little casual.

    You will need some time to get your straw bales prepped before you plant them. By adding fertilizer and water over about ten days, the bales start to compost internally and after the heat of this process has diminished, the bales are ready to plant.

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  • 06 of 07

    Plant Greens in Large Baskets

    Lettuce Basket
    Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    We use a lot of large baskets for outdoor containers, particularly for herbs and salad greens. If you haunt second-hand stores and yard sales you can find lots of big baskets for little money. We find most baskets weather well, even those that are painted - some becoming even more interesting as they age. We have several ways of preparing baskets – either lining them with moss or more often, to help retain water, we line them with a lightweight plastic bag – making large holes in the bottom of the bag for drainage.

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  • 07 of 07

    Hanging Baskets

    Lettuce Basket
    © Kerry Michaels

    We love planting hanging baskets with lettuce, salad greens or herbs. It is unusual, fun and tasty. The only downside is that once you cut some of the lettuce the basket can look a little funky. One way around this is to keep seedlings always sprouting to replace what you've eaten.

    Also, coir dries out incredibly quickly--on a windy day, a warm breeze can suck the moisture right out of your soil. To combat this, we usually line coir baskets with plastic and also check them once a day, sometimes twice to see if they need watering. It's also a good idea to give a basket like this some shade mid-day if you live somewhere hot.