How to Plant a Container Garden for Edibles

If you don't have space for a traditional garden, try planting edibles in pots

Credit: Carol Pope

A pot of peas in an edible container garden, with edible pansies in the backdrop and kale tucked in here and there.

Have you ever thought about growing vegetables in pots?

As our house and yard is perched on a rocky spot, we’ve had to compost and collect leaves to build up garden soil. Plus, we’ve dumped lots of dirt into our yard to fill up our raised beds… but what about the remaining soil-less spots? That brings us to our new container garden where we are aiming to grow as many edibles as possible in pots.

What Edibles Will Thrive in Pots?

What edibles are worth growing in pots, we asked. And the answer is exciting. Virtually all the crops we have planted in our growing container garden have thrived. Generally, container-planted edibles seem to be less bugged by insects, perhaps because each plant is typically a stand-alone instead of being planted en masse with other tasty lookalikes. Plus, they can be planted very thickly, as the soil in our containers is a rich blend of manure and compost purchased by the trailer load at our local landscape supplier. And planting densely means more to eat with fewer weeds to worry about.

Experimenting with Growing Peas

One of our first experiments was a pot of peas. We like to keep things simple so we made it easy and bought a six-pack of pea starts from a local nursery for $1.79. We then planted the whole lot around the outer edge of a 14-inch terra-cotta pot and gently pushed a tomato cage into the centre to give each seedling something to grab onto in its climb upward. (As peas grow easily from seed, we could have gone this route too, and would have used an inoculant on the seeds and protected them from hungry birds by covering the top of the pot with wire or netting until each little plant had a couple sets of leaves.)

Plant a Variety of Vegetables to Maximize Space

Because there was a spot left in the centre of our pot, we added one kale plant there so that when the peas are finished, it can take over the whole space and grow into fall. Currently, the peas have sprawled over the tomato cage and kale, but peeking through the enthusiastic growth I see that the kale is thriving too and probably glad to be out of the direct sun. While tolerating the sunshine, peas are a cool-weather crop and best planted early in February or March. (We choose to place this pot in a pretty shady spot that gets some afternoon sun but misses the worst of the mid-day rays.) You can sow a second crop now, too, and this will feed you (deliciously) come this fall.