Container garden

by M. Arjoca,

Container gardensIt is not absolutely necessary to possess hundreds of square meters of land to have a garden. Even those who can use a small space, a window sill, a balcony, a porch, a roof or just a tiny place near the house or the building they live, and love plants, can have a garden. The solution may be the container garden.

As the name suggests the plants grow in containers (not directly on the ground), in pots big enough to satisfy their needs. This type of garden is very popular and have a lot of good aspects:

Flower chair (containers arrangement)After choosing the place where the garden will be, making a sketch of how it should look and deciding what plants to grow, the next step is to start the work. You need different sized containers and of course a lot of soil to fill them.

You can buy containers or you can recycle them. Some people's garbage can be treasure to another. Once you have in mind what you want, you'll be surprised of your observation, exploration and creativity skills. A used shoe can be a good pot for some succulents and has a special charm. The potatoes can be grown in plastic bags (you make some holes in these bags). It will be very easy to harvest them this way.

Nevertheless take care that the containers have no paint traces or toxic substances which will poison the plants and you. The recycled pots must be washed and disinfected because it is possible to contain pests. You don't want to start the project with the left foot.

In the terra cotta pots the water evaporation is faster, but the roots can breathe. In the plastic ones the temperature grows faster, but they are easy to carry. Stone or cement containers can be hard to move and wood pots can rot. Be careful that the wood is not treated with toxic preservatives.

The containers must have holes in the bottom so the water excess can drain from soil and the roots don't rot. Also take care that the top side of the pot is not to narrow.

Zucchini in containerAnother aspect you have to take care is the food and space needs of plants. The plants need some certain surface (the pumpkin needs at least 1m2) to develop and spread their leaves and also they need some certain volume of earth to develop their roots and to find food.

Some plants have surface roots, others have deep roots. Some have bushy roots, others have just one long principal root and others smaller starting from this one. For example, the lettuce has bushy, short, surface roots, instead the carrot has a single long root. Therefore you have to give every plant a proper container. The lettuce can grow in pots not very tall, instead the long carrots need deep ones.

You can use your knowledge and creativity and arrange in a same container different plants as size and roots type. In a large container you can put a tomato plant who needs large space for roots, a few onion bulbs and a few basil plants who make shallow roots. These plants don't compete for food resources or space and they protect each other. For example, the basil repels the whiteflies who can attack the tomato plant, and the onions repel the aphids. Companion plants offer a lot of ideas.

The bigger the containers are, the better it is. Big plants need big containers. There are many vegetable varieties suitable for containers, but you can try common garden varieties too.

Container sizes for different plants:

Name  Minimum volume Minimum depth



20 cm;                                         8 "

Tomatoes, potatoes

10 l;                         3 gal

25-30 cm;                                  12 "


10-15 l;                   3 gal

20 cm;                                         8 "

Green onions, garlic


15 cm,                                         6 "

Lettuce, spinach


20 cm;                                         8 "

Beet, celery


20 cm;                                         8 "

Carrots, parsnips


20 cm;                                         8 "

Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli

10 l;                         3 gal

25 cm;                                       10 "