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8 Steps to a Vegetable and Herb Container Garden

Flowerpots on a windowsill, a terrace, or a patio can provide delicious food all summer long. Here are the simple how-tos for growing a container garden.

By Stephen Orr
Herbs in flowerpots near a windowMikkel


Step 5: Plant

Dig holes about four to six inches apart. Tip the seedlings out of their nursery containers and plant them, making sure the stem is completely above the surface. Leave about an inch between the soil surface and the rim of the pot. Water lightly once again until water comes out of the pot’s drainage holes.

Step 6: Support the Plants

Stake and tie climbing green beans and lanky plants like tomatoes—especially the small-fruiting cherry types. Make a tripod-style support out of three bamboo poles, wooden dowels, or twigs. Secure the bottom ends of the poles in the soil and tie the tops with wire or string until the tripod is sturdy. Then carefully tie the plants to the support.

Step 7: Maintain

Make sure your container garden gets at least six hours of sun a day. Water it whenever the soil is dry to the touch two inches below the surface—during the heat of summer, the soil may need watering every day. Every couple of weeks, feed the plants an organic plant food like fish emulsion, following the package directions. (The fertilizer will smell strong for a day or two but the plants will love the nitrogen.) You can also buy a dry organic fertilizer formulated especially for vegetables.

Step 8: Harvest Your Crops

As soon as your tomatoes, squash, eggplants, and berries bear fruit, harvest it—cutting will stimulate the plants to produce more. The same goes for basil, cilantro, arugula, and lettuce. Snip off any stem that looks as if it’s about to bloom—if it flowers, the plant will die early after going to seed. Lettuces and herb leaves can be snipped at their bases leaf by leaf while the plant continues to grow.

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