Guide to Container Gardening in Tight Spaces

Growing fruits, flowers, herbs or vegetables do not require a huge space. As long as you have the right soil, sunlight, good air circulation, seeds, seedlings or cuttings to plant, and containers, then you are ready for a fun container gardening!

When you engage yourself in the fun and wonderful world of growing plants, it is always a thrill to discover new things and exciting to find out its results.

Tomato plants growing in a pot farm alongside a small house in fifteen garbage cans filled with soil

Space is always a consideration when gardening, but do not fret if you only have a small patio space or a little yard to grow some plants, for as long as you have empty containers, they can be an excellent material to start your DIY gardening!

What can be used as containers for gardening

From barrels, galvanized tin buckets, old tires, pipes, old toolboxes, baskets, broken terra cotta pots, and watering cans. Your creativity is being tested-this is the beauty and wonder of container gardening. You become more creative by producing ways on how you can maximize a little space or the limited resources that you have, to cultivate plants of your choice.

Ideal Sizes of Container

  • Carrots – 1-2 gallon
  • Lettuce – 10-inch pot
  • Kale – 1-gallon pot
  • Garlic – 5-gallon pot
  • Tomatoes – 10-gallon pot
  • Peppers – 3-gallon pot
  • Onions – 12-inch deep pot
  • Beets – 2-3 gallon container
  • Spinach – 2-gallon container
  • Radishes – 8 inch deep pots
  • Basil – 18-inch deep pot
  • Mint – 8-12 inch deep pot
  • Parsley – 18-inch deep pot

Plan what to plant!

Since you only have limited space, it really helps if you think ahead what plants are suited and best grown in your available space using the containers available at hand.

Look for inspiration if you don’t have much idea or if it’s your first time to engage in container gardening. You can always check online, different gardening tips, and videos of the different steps in starting your DIY container gardens. Sometimes, it seems overwhelming, thinking of what containers to use, type of soil, the seeds or seedlings to grow, etc. It is best to make a comprehensive listing of what plants you need to have, the plants that you would you use the most, what can grow in smaller containers that require a lesser amount of soil and planting season, etc.

When you have finalized your list, start preparing all the essentials – cleaned containers, the soil mixture, seeds, seedlings, or stem cuttings for planting. When planting different plants in one container, ensure that they require the same needs, like water, sunlight, and fertilizer so that there won’t be any problem with meeting their needs as they are only planted in one container.

Understand the importance of sun exposure

Plants have different needs for sunlight. Some plants grow best at the full sun over longer exposure while others grow healthy with minimal sunlight. This is one of the advantages of growing plants in a container because you can simply move them when needed. However, some larger containers are very heavy that cannot be easily moved, so it is recommended that you study and identify first the sunniest spot before you start filling your containers.

Don’t underestimate proper watering and drainage

Lack or too much watering of container plants is both not good to the plants. Water your plants as frequently needed during the summer months. Containers can have a hard time holding moisture than when the plants are grown on the grounds, so it is important to ensure that your soil inside the containers remains damp.

If you have noticed that the soil is pulling away from the side of the pot, then it is time to water the plants. Meanwhile, overwatering can drown your plants’ roots, causing them to die, so ensure enough holes for the proper drainage.

Plant your seeds/seedlings correctly

For direct sowing, pay attention to the directions on the seed packet as it will tell how many seeds to plant, the depth and the spacing when planting to thin the seedlings once they start to grow. Keep the soil evenly moist to allow germination. You can mark where exactly you planted the seeds so that you will also know if they were spaced properly.

When buying seedlings from a nursery, inspect the seedlings well and notice if it’s in a healthy condition. Also, notice what the soil/roots look like in the small nursery container. Ideally, the soil should be damp and the roots whites and well developed.

Once you picked healthy seedlings from the nursery, lightly loosen the roots before planting in a container to help the roots easily spread and to effectively transplant.

Here is a list of common vegetables and herbs that can be easily grown in the containers from seeds.

  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Squash
  • Spinach
  • Okra
  • Eggplant
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Oregano