Edible Container Culture How to Grow Food in 10 Square Feet or Less

Edible Container Culture
  • Posted May 8, 2014

If your only growing space is a balcony, back porch or window box, large pots and planters can provide islands of soil to bring your gardening dreams to life.

Start by making a mental list of your favorite veggies and herbs. Next, make sure there is sufficient sun. Most food plants prefer 6 to 8 hours of direct light each day.


The Perfect Pot

Use a container at least 10 inches deep, and remember—the more soil the roots have, the greater the quantity and quality of produce.

Your garden vessel needs drain holes at the bottom to prevent the roots from drowning, but otherwise, choosing a container is a matter of personal expression. Fortunately, soil selection is a breeze, as any product labeled potting soil or potting mix will do the trick.


A Miniature Ecosystem

Imagine a beautiful jungle of your favorite foods where each plant fits together in a harmonious arrangement. Rather than planting rows of single vegetables, create a tiny Garden of Eden among your pots and planters.

container tips

To start, organize the plants by height. The pinnacle of the planting should be in the center or at the back if it’s against a wall. Twining peas (in spring) and beans (in summer) make a delicious centerpiece. Lodge a narrow trellis into the soil and plant a seed of your favorite legume at the base of each vertical support.

Add medium height species (eggplants, bell peppers, kale) all around the centerpiece and shorter varieties around the edges (lettuce, carrots, beets). Make sure to mix in a few edible flowers, like calendula, pansies and nasturtium for garnishing salads and desserts. The blooms bring a colorful contrast to the textured foliage of the vegetables and attract beneficial insects to complete the garden ecosystem.

Harvest tip

Through the Seasons

Feel free to disregard the recommended spacing on seed packets. Pack in the produce and mix and match varieties to suit your personal taste. An edible garden is not static, but is a continual work in progress through the seasons. If one plant is getting unruly, trim it back to make room for its neighbors.

Harvest a sprig of this and a pinch of that every day as the different species grow. Once a veggie matures and starts to fade, pull it out and pop in a replacement to keep the garden full and fresh.

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Brian Barth
About the Author

After 15 years as a professional landscape designer and horticulturalist, Brian Barth embarked on a second career to share his passion—and the knowledge he's accrued—through writing. His love of plants is all-encompassing, but he has a particular soft spot for culinary crops.

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Edible Container Culture

 Veggie Container Benefits

  • Close at Hand Harvest
  • Easy to Water & Weed
  • Less Time & Money on groceries
  • Tasty and tasteful patio décor
  • More variety in less space