Figaro's Blog

May 22, 2024

How to Create an Edible Garden in Containers

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Growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs in containers is increasingly popular with urban dwellers, balcony gardeners, and anyone looking to maximize their gardening space. New to growing edibles in containers? We’re here to guide you through the process, from selecting the right containers to harvesting your own delicious produce. In this post, we’ll explore how to create an edible garden in containers. We’ll start with why we love container gardening and cover the best soil to use, plus strategies to maximize your space and care for your plants.

Why Grow in Containers?

Colourful collection of pots on stairs growing vegetables

Container-grown edibles can be attractive, easy care, and productive!

Container gardening offers a versatile solution for those with limited space, poor soil quality, or mobility issues. Whether you’re an apartment resident with a sunny balcony, a homeowner with a small patio, or simply someone who loves the convenience of gardening at waist height, container gardening can work for you. Here are some reasons why growing edibles in containers might be the perfect choice for you:

1. Flexibility: Containers can be moved around to capture the best sunlight, protected from harsh weather, or simply to change the look of your space.
2. Control: You have complete control over soil quality and composition, which is crucial for growing healthy plants.
3. Weed Management: Containers make it easier to control weeds.
4. Accessibility: Gardening in tall containers is more accessible for people with physical limitations, allowing them to tend to plants without bending or kneeling.
5. Aesthetic Appeal: Containers come in various shapes, sizes, and styles, allowing you to create an attractive garden setup that suits your taste and space.

Soil for Containers

Choosing the right soil is essential for the success of your container garden. Garden soil is often too heavy and can lead to poor drainage and compaction. Instead, opt for a high-quality potting mix that is light, well-draining, and rich in organic matter.

You can also enhance your potting mix with a small amount (less than 25%) of organic matter like worm castings or well-rotted manure for an extra nutrient boost.

Maximizing Space in a Container Garden

Limited space doesn’t mean limited potential. With thoughtful planning and some clever techniques, you can maximize your growing area and yield a surprising amount of produce.

Herbs in a terracotta container

Herbs such as thyme and basil grow well in terracotta containers.

Choose container-friendly plants

Not all edibles grow well in containers, and choosing the right plant varieties is crucial. Here are some guidelines:

Look for small-space hybrids

Plant breeders know their customers’ space is at a premium, and are continually refining varieties that can thrive in containers. Look for varieties indicated for container growing. Sometimes, the name is a clue: ‘Patio Princess,’ ‘Tiny Tim,’ ‘Little Gem,’ ‘Toy Choy’ and ‘Bush Baby’ are all varieties of edibles suited for container growing.

Grow herbs

Nearly all herbs do well in containers. Basil, parsley, cilantro, and chives are all well-suited for containers, as are the perennial Mediterranean herbs: rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano. The latter especially enjoy terracotta pots for the excellent drainage and airflow they provide.

Sow lettuce and greens

Due to their shallow roots and smaller scale, most lettuces and other leafy greens (such as arugula, mizuna, and other mustards; mache; endive; cress; radicchio; orach and sorrel) grow well in containers. Opt for leaf varieties rather than head-forming types.

A collection of various containers growing vegetables

Hanging baskets and tiered planters take advantage of vertical space (and allow you to grow more plants!).

Growing vertically

Take advantage of vertical space by using trellises, stakes,  hanging baskets, or wall- or railing-mounted planters. Climbing plants like pole beans, peas, cucumbers, and indeterminate tomatoes can grow upwards, saving precious ground space. Consider using:

  • Trellises: Simple to install and effective for supporting vines.
  • Wall-mounted planters: These can be arranged to hold multiple plants, ideal for herbs and strawberries.
  • Hanging baskets: Perfect for trailing plants like cherry tomatoes and herbs.


Interplanting, or companion planting, is the practice of growing different plants together to maximize space and benefit each other. For example:

  • Basil and tomatoes: Basil repels pests and is said to enhance the flavour of tomatoes.
  • Radishes and carrots: Radishes grow quickly and loosen the soil for slower-growing carrots.
  • Lettuce and herbs: Lettuce can grow in the shade of taller herbs like dill or cilantro.
a hand sowing seeds in a row

Succession sowing of cool-season crops is best done 2-3 weeks apart to stagger the harvest.

Succession planting

Using the succession planting technique ensures a continuous harvest throughout the growing season. There are two ways succession planting can be used:

  1. As soon as one crop is harvested, plant another in its place. For instance:
    • Spring: Plant cool-season crops like lettuce, spinach, and radishes.
    • Summer: Follow with warm-season crops like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.
    • Fall: End with another round of cool-season crops such as arugula, garlic, and turnips.
  2. Timing multiple sowings of the same crop, 2-3 weeks apart, to expand the harvest window. Examples of crops suited to succession sowing include:
    • Arugula and other mustards
    • Beans
    • Beets
    • Carrots
    • Kale and collards
    • Lettuce
    • Peas
    • Scallions
    • Spinach
    • Turnips

Caring for a container edible garden

A metal watering can

Watering is likely to be your biggest chore with a container garden. Make feeding your plants easy by adding a liquid fertilizer to your watering can every couple of weeks.

Consistent care is key to a productive container garden. Here’s how to keep your plants healthy and thriving:

Watering your container garden

Container plants need regular watering because they dry out faster than those in the ground. To keep them thriving:

  • check the moisture level daily, especially in hot weather. Most containers need watering once a day, but this can vary
  • water deeply until it runs out of the drainage holes. Ensure the soil is evenly moist but not waterlogged
  • apply a layer of mulch on top of the soil to help retain moisture and reduce evaporation.

Fertilizing your edible container garden

Since nutrients in containers are quickly depleted, regular fertilization is essential.

Choosing a fertilizer

Because you’re growing food, opt for an organic fertilizer. Liquid fertilizers are particularly useful in container growing since they deliver nutrients quickly. Our liquid kelp fertilizer is a great all-purpose liquid source of nutrients, while our liquid fish fertilizer has slightly higher nitrogen levels, which supports leafy green growth.

Fertilizer frequency

Fertilize every 2-3 weeks, depending on the plant’s needs and the type of fertilizer used.

Signs of nutrient deficiency

Yellowing leaves, poor growth, or low yields may indicate the need for additional nutrients.

Caring for and maintaining your container garden

tomato cage

Tomato cages provide effective support for a variety of edible plants.

Keep your plants healthy and productive with regular maintenance:

  • Pinch: Learn how to properly pinch your herbs and tomato plants to support healthy growth.
  • Stake: Support tall or heavy plants with stakes or cages to prevent them from toppling over.
  • Control pests: Monitor for pests and diseases. Use organic methods like a sharp jet of water, hand picking, insecticidal soap, or introducing beneficial insects to keep problems in check.
  • Add flowers: Attract pollinators and beneficial predatory insects by including flowers in your edible garden. Sweet alyssum, borage, calendula, and marigolds are all stand-out performers.


Regular harvesting encourages more production and ensures you enjoy your garden’s bounty at its peak:

  • Herbs: Harvest frequently to promote bushy growth.
  • Leafy greens: Pick outer leaves first, allowing the plant to continue growing.
  • Fruiting plants: Harvest fruits and vegetables when they are fully ripe and at their peak flavour.

Creating an edible garden in containers is a rewarding and practical way to grow your own fresh produce, no matter the size of your space. By understanding the benefits, choosing the right soil, maximizing space through smart planting techniques, and providing proper care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest from your container garden.

Figaro’s Garden is here to support you with all your container gardening needs. From high-quality potting mixes to compact plant varieties and expert advice, we have everything you need to create an edible garden in containers. Visit us today and let’s grow something delicious together!

Want to learn more? Join us June 12, 2024 for a Small-Space Edible Gardening workshop. Details and registration.


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