Grey Duck Garlic sells organic gourmet seed garlic

Container Gardening

See our Guide to Container Garden Pot Sizes below for recommendations on pot size, plant spacing and lighting


If you enjoy growing your own vegetables but don’t have a lot of space, container gardening may be for you. Besides the health benefits of home grown produce and the joy of gardening, a container garden will beautify any space. Some people with a large space available chose to grow container gardens because the architecture of this type of garden can be so beautiful. Grey Duck Garlic, Chesnok Red garlic bulbs in bucket with tomatoes and peppers

Picture: Three Chesnok Red garlic bulbs share a green bucket with various tomatoes and yellow hot peppers.

Even if you have a larger vegetable garden, many people will grow an additional herb, flower, or specialized container garden (such as peppers and tomatoes) to beautify a deck or patio space. Container gardens are great for kitchen gardens.

Advantages of container gardening:

  • Soil quality is easy to control
  • Fewer weeds and less time weeding
  • Ability to move smaller pots with the sun or season
  • Ability to redesign garden as you desire      
  • The added beauty of multilevel garden architecture
  • Easily tended by those with less mobility      


Disadvantages of container gardening:

  • You may need to water more, especially in hot weather 
  • Pots can be heavy, especially when freshly watered
  • Drier pots may tip over in strong winds   


Types of Containers

The types of containers you can use are vast and mostly limited by your imagination and experimentation. They can be made of wood, ceramic, terra-cotta, plastic, metal, or garden cloth over metal frames. Some common containers are: flower boxes, hanging baskets, large flower pots, half barrels, wooden tubs, and 5 gallon buckets. Many people build wooden containers to suit their space.

Container Essentials:

  • Adequate drainage
  • Adequate size (enough surface area and enough capacity)
  • Sturdy enough to support soil and plants


Container Drainage is determined by:

  • Container set up
  • Soil quality


Container Set Up

For your containers to drain properly they must have drainage holes in the bottom. In order to prevent soil loss and help drainage it is useful to place a layer of sand, small rocks, or gravel at the bottom of your pot as you fill it. Also, containers will not drain well if placed on a flat surface such as concrete, wood deck, or blacktop. In this case containers should be placed up on bricks or wood blocks. Grey Duck Garlic, pot full of ducks by Susan Fluegel

Note: So far we have been unable to grow any ducks in pots!

Soil Quality

The soil in your container garden needs to be balanced between moisture retention and adequate drainage. Plant roots should be kept uniformly moist, but not sitting in water. The soil in pots needs to be a little lighter than the soil you find in your yard garden, unless you have very well draining sandy loam or silt loam soil. Normal garden soil will not drain well in pots. Clay soil, in particular, will hold too much moisture or become too hard for root growth in pots.

You can mix sand and a light organic matter such as peat moss into your regular garden soil to make a suitable potting mix. Be careful, however, one common mistake is mixing sand with clay type soil. This will make cement in pots.

A better alternative is to make your own mixture of approximately one part peat moss, one part loam potting soil and one part perlite or vermiculite with added compost, manure, or fertilizer. Be careful not to over fertilize, as this may cause fertilizer burn and kill your plants.

Container size

The types and amounts of vegetables, flowers, and herbs you would like to grow will help you determine the size of containers you will need. Shallow rooted plants require less room, and can be grown in a container as small as 6” across and 8” deep. Deep rooted plants require more room and depth so are best planted in your larger containers. See chart below for some container size recommendations.

Grey Duck Garlic: Guide to Container Gardens
Chart created by Jane and Susan Fluegel
Plant Light Needed Min. Container Size* Number of Plants** Space Between Plants
Argula Full to part sun 1/2 gallon 3-5 plants 3-4 inches
Bachelor Buttons Full sun 1-2 quart 3-5 plants 3-4 inches
Beans, Bush Full sun 2 gallons 3 plants 4-6 inches
Beans, Pole Full sun 5 gallons 3 plants 2-4 inches
Basil Full sun 1 quart 1 plant  
Broccoli Full sun 5 gallons 1-2 plants 12-18 inches
Calendula Full sun 1-2 quart 3-5 plants 3-4 inches
Cantaloupe Full sun 5 gallons 1 plant  
Carrots Full to part sun 1-5 gallons 8-10 plants per gallon 2-3 inches
Cabbage Full to part sun 5-15 gallons 1 plant per 5 gallons 12-18 inches
Chard, Swiss Full to part sun 1 gallon 4-5 plants 4-6 inches
Chard, Rainbow Mix Full to part sun 1 gallon 4-5 plants 4-6 inches
Chives Full sun 1 quart 3 plants  
Cilantro Full sun 1-5 gallons 1 plant per gallon 8-12 inches
Collards Full sun 1-5 gallons 3 plants per gallon 5-7 inches
Cucumbers Full sun 3-5 gallons 3 plants Hill plants in middle
Cucumbers, bush Full sun 3-5 gallons 1 plant  
Dianthus Full sun 1-2 quart 3-5 plants 3-4 inches
Dill Full sun 1-5 gallons 10-12 plants per gallon 8-12 inches
Eggplant Full sun 2-5 gallons 3 plants  
Hyssop Full sun 0.5-1 gallon 1 plant  
Kale Full to part sun 2-5 gallons 3 plants 10-15 inches
Lettuce, leaf Full to Part Sun 0.5-5 gallons 10-12 plants per gallon 2-3 inches
Marigold Full sun 1-2 quarts 3-5 plants 3-4 inches
Nasturtium Full to part sun 1-2 quarts 3-5 plants 3-4 inches
Onions Full to part sun 2-5 gallons 3-5 mature plants Thin to 4-5 inch
Onions, green Full to part sun 1 gallon 10-12 plants 2-3 inches
Oregano Full sun 1 gallons 1 plant  
Pansy Part shade 1-2 quarts 3-6 plants 3-4 inches
Parsley Full to part sun 1-2 quarts 1 plant  
Peas Full to part sun 2-5 gallons 3-6 plant 3-4 inches
Peas, snow Full to part sun 2-5 gallons 3-6 plants 3-4 inches
Peppers, bell Full sun 2-5 gallons 1 plant  
Peppers, hot Full sun 2-5 gallons 1 plant  
Pepper, wax Full sun 2-5 gallons 1 plant  
Pumpkin Full sun 1 gallon 1 plant  
Radicchio Full to part sun 1 gallon 3 plant  
Sage Full sun 1 gallon 1 plant  
Spearmint Full to part sun 1-2 quarts 3-5 plants 3-4 inches
Squash Full sun 5 gallons 1 plant  
Squash, summer Full sun 5 gallons 1 plant  
Thyme Full sun 1-2 quarts 1 plant  
Tomato Full sun 5 gallons 1 plant  
Tomato, cherry Full sun 2 gallons 1 plant  
Watermelon, sugar Full sun 5 gallons 1 plant  
Zucchini Full sun 5 gallons 1 plant  

*Smaller containers need watered more frequently
**Depends on the shape of the container; it is better to consider the spacing

Keep in mind gallons of soil required per plant is affected by container shape. These estimations are based on a flower box type shape. The lower numbers are the minimum size recommended. The number of plants is affected by the variety you choose; these are estimations. It is recommended to seed a little heavily in case you don’t get 100% germination, and for a lush looking garden. You can always thin back after the plants have sprouted.

Container gardens can be a fun and tasty way to grow your own food! If you want the advantages of container gardens but need a larger space to grow consider a raised bed garden.


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Grey Duck Garlic is certified organicWhy We Are Certified Organic

We don't just say we grow organically, we are certified Organic. This means our farm and operating procedures are inspected, approved and certified Organic by Washington State's Department of Agriculture. Sure it takes us extra time and work to meet Washington's strict organic requirements, but we think it is worth it for our peace of mind. Growing organically requires more than not using pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Grey Duck Garlic has sustainable growing practices that improve our soil, create habitat for wildlife, and leave the land better than when we started farming. We take the time to certify our farm so you know you are getting the very best organic berries and produce.