Fool-Proof Tips for Container Gardening

Avis Licht is a landscape gardener, educator, and author of the wonderful book, The Spring Garden Made Easy. Her passion is to create beautiful gardens that incorporate edibles that can be harvested year round. In a recent interview with her I asked her to talk about container gardening as an alternative for gardeners with decks, small gardens, or special climate conditions.

Avis: For garden lovers who don’t have the luxury of their own gardens, containers are a simple and easy solution. However, there are a few tips for helping you grow your plants more successfully.

People don’t realize how fast pots dry out and how hard it is to get them moist again. Once soil has dried out, if you water the pot with a hose, it just runs on through.

Keeping your soil moist is a trick that requires some practice. Using drip irrigation in your pots, for 3 or 4 minutes 2 or 3 times a day often works. If you don’t have your pots on an irrigation system try these self-watering planters. They really work!

1. Make sure there’s enough room in the container for root growth of your plants. Here are some suggestions for what plants to grow in different size pots:

  • 6″ depth is the minimum – chives, lettuce, radishes, other salad greens, basil, coriander, Asian greens, mint, thyme
  • 12″  for larger veggies – pole beans, carrots, chard, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, leeks, peppers, spinach, parsley, rosemary, beets, broccoli, okra, potatoes, sweet corn, summer squash, dill, lemongrass, bush beans, garlic, kohlrabi, onions, peas
  • 18″ – 24″ for miniature trees like lemons or limes

2. Use the right soil mix. For self-watering planters I suggest you use the organic mix from Gardener’s Supply formulated just for that. You’ll need to add nutrition in the form of compost, aged manure, blood meal and other organic fertilizers. The plants rely on you 100% for their nutrition. Be sure to feed them. Read up on what your plants need and add it to the potting soil. Using foliar feeding or a liquid fertilizer like seaweed solution works well. Don’t just put soil from the garden into your pots. It will be too heavy and dry out easily.

Self-Watering Containers

3. Place the planters where they will get the best light and be protected from wind or blasting hot sun. Gardener’s Supply even has self-watering planters that have castors on them so you can move them around to catch the changing light and heat conditions.

Learn more about  Avis Licht:

Avis Licht has been teaching and installing beautiful edible landscapes in California since 1978. She is the co-founder of Commonweal Garden in Bolinas, California, an organic farm and permaculture teaching garden, and holds a B.S. in Conservation of Natural Resources from U.C. Berkeley. She was co-author of the Feasibility Study for the Organic Farm and Garden of the College of Marin, which is now a major teaching center. She lives in Marin County and has designed hundreds of beautiful edible landscapes. After 35 years of gardening and designing gardens, she now shares her experiences in her own delightful and informative blog.

Follow Avis’s Blog: Edible Landscaping Made Easy

Avis’s acclaimed new book, The Spring Garden Made Easy, covers all aspects of starting a vegetable garden  a wonderful read filled with valuable gems for any garden lover!

Preparing for Your Fall Garden
Indoor & Outdoor Edible Gardens
Feng Shui for an Inviting Garden


Sue H
Sue H11 months ago

Helpful information, thaks.

Ruth S
Ruth S11 months ago


Mike R
Mike R11 months ago


Mike R
Mike R11 months ago


Paulo R
Paulo R11 months ago


Chrissie R
Chrissie R11 months ago

Thanks for posting.

Danuta W
Danuta W11 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Peggy B
Peggy B11 months ago


William C
William Cabout a year ago


W. C
W. C1 years ago

Thank you.