How Food Grows: Containers

Part 3: Containers

Ideal for urban growing, but an approach everyone should consider. Container growing offers convenience in a range of ways, removing the need for digging, weeding and some pest control as well. Keeping your vegetables and herbs closer to the kitchen will help you follow and appreciate the journey from pot to plate all the more.


  • Turn something into a container. Just about any durable container made of wood, metal or plastic can be filled with soil and used for growing.
  • Ensure your container has holes for drainage. Create holes with a hammer and nail if necessary.
  • Make sure your container is deep enough for the veg you want to grow in it. A depth of 20cm will allow you to grow almost anything.
  • Fill with a mix of top soil, potting compost and garden compost if possible. Otherwise, just use potting compost but bear in mind it will need a liquid feed later on.
  • Sow rocket, oriental greens, radish and perpetual spinach directly into one or more containers.
  • Keep watering your seeds to keep each one moist. Don’t let them dry out, but water gently and regularly to avoid letting them get sodden.
  • Share your container growing exploits with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @EnergiaGIG

Top Tips

  • Let your imagination run wild. As well as pots, window boxes, hanging baskets and grow bags, try a watering can, a pair of wellies, old tyres or a broken wheelbarrow.
  • Water container plants regularly, because the roots can’t find moisture elsewhere as they can in the open ground.
  • For deep containers, add a layer of small stones at the bottom to prevent roots from getting waterlogged.
  • In dry weather, add stones to the top of the soil around your plant to prevent evaporation.
  • Just about anything can be grown in containers, but good ones to try include lettuce, potatoes, carrots, beetroot, kale, peas and beans.
  • Grow salad leaves in shallow containers and save your deeper containers for deep-rooted veg.
  • If you have a large container, try a pumpkin or courgette plant.

Helpful Resources is grateful for the support of our Growth Fund partners Social Innovation Fund Ireland and The Department of Rural & Community Development, whose funding has enabled us to promote and disseminate this online course, engaging thousands of people in How Food Grows.​