Container gardens are the new victory gardens! They’re wonderful for small spaces and allow you to garden if you rent a home. It’s also a great way to ease into gardening. If you aren’t sure where to start, do not fret! I wasn’t either about a month ago! I’m here to share with you all that I’ve learned about container gardening in a super short amount of time. Keep reading to see how to start a small container garden.
How to Start A Small Container Garden
Believe it or not, I’ve wanted to learn how to garden for over a decade. I didn’t see or do a lot of gardening as a child, but I did watch my grandfather do yard work pretty regularly! I loved watching how rewarding the work was, and knew one day I’d want to learn how to grow my own food.
After my four-year-old mentioned wanting to grow her own food one day, I had the idea to start our own small container garden! The next day I watched some YouTube, checked out a few books on container gardens, and subscribed to two gardening podcasts. I learned as much as I could and then I gathered all of my supplies! Then this global pandemic hit. So this has been about two months in the making.
Here’s what I did to start my small container garden!
01. Measure your space.
It’s important to pre-plan when it comes to container gardens! For us, we just have a back patio we want to start with, so I decided to buy three 20 gallon Smart Pots. These containers are aerated, so they help keep your roots nice and healthy instead of forming a ball at the bottom. Plus, water passes through them with ease, since they’re made of fabric! I can’t recommend these containers over plastic ones enough.
02. Decide what you want to grow.
After you know how much space you have, and what you will grow in, decide how much and what you want to grow! This is also important because it will determine how much soil and how many containers you’ll need!
I knew we would want to grow veggies we buy every day. So we are starting with peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I’m also going to experiment with rainbow chard and kale. I read somewhere that those plants pair well together in containers! So, as you can see, I have all of my organic seed starters in this bucket in the photo below. I’m going to walk you through how we planted them!
03. Gather your supplies.
I wrote about what you’ll need to start a small backyard container garden in this post here! But I recommend waiting to start this journey until you have all of your supplies gathered! I wrote about the containers, soil, and other supplies I picked in my “what you need to start a backyard container garden” post.
Keep in mind that if you can’t find local seed starters, you’ll have to order seeds and start those indoors. Since I didn’t do that this year, I can’t really speak to that process, but I’m going to share my experience with the organic seedlings I found at my local grocery store!
04. Fill containers with soil.
Once you have everything you need and your plants ready to go into their containers, it’s time to begin! I talk about why we chose Good Dirt for our containers here, but once you’re ready to begin planting, take your container and fill it with dirt. I used two bags of the Good Dirt soil per 20 gallon container. I put one bag in at at a time.
05. Till the soil (moisten).
As I poured the soil in the container, I would pause every few pours and moisten the soil with the hose and then till the soil with my special tiller. I felt like a real gardener! Honestly, this just pre-moistens so your plants have a better chance of survival after moving them! So, essentially, I put the soil in little by little then wet it, and till it. I did this over and over until the container was full.
Note: You want the soil to have the consistency of brownie mix.
06. Dig holes for the plant.
Next you’re ready to plant! My five year old loved this part. We dug a hole and then put a little fertilizer in!
07. Fertilize the planting area.
This step is important! I used worm castings for fertilizer. I haven’t researched whether this method is fully vegan or not, so if you’re concerned, do some research first. I just know that worm castings are a great organic, natural fertilizer for veggie plants and increase the chances of a good harvest! I put a teaspoon in each little hole before I placed the plant in the soil.
08. Place plants in containers!
Yay, the fun part! Take your seedling and put the little sprout between your index and middle finger. Flip it over and support it with your hand, then gently pull off the cup it’s living in. Pull the roots loose a tad if they look jumbled, while keeping it upside down. Then set it in the hole, and support it by pulling soil around it, then packing it down gently!
09. Water your plants appropriately.
Immediate Watering – As soon as you plant your veggies or fruits, you’ll definitely want to water them well! Using your hose, water right at the base of the plant!
Continuous Watering – It’s important to water your plants every day! If you set up a drip system, good for you! I’m going old school, (since I only have three containers), and I’m watering them by hand. It’s sort of therapeutic! Every day I check the soil by sticking my index finger in and seeing if it feels damp. If it does, I may skip watering that day, but if the soil seems dry, I’ll water them!
Note: what you’re growing will determine how much or how little you water, so be sure to research your individual plant’s needs!
10. Wait for harvest.
The hardest part, right!? I haven’t reached this step yet. but my girls and I are patiently and diligently watering my plants every day! I can’t wait to see what happens!
I hope this post about how to start a small container garden was helpful to you! If you have any questions, let me know!
Thank you so much for reading!