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Container Gardening 101

by Lindsey Sexton - April 10, 2023

Container gardening can be a rewarding way to try your hand at growing fresh produce. And since this spring has seen its last freeze, now’s the time to plant your garden.


What is container gardening?

Container gardening is a very simple approach to gardening that allows you to use a patio or porch to grow food in pots or other containers. It is helpful when you do not have land to till up or when you just want to grow a few plants and not a whole garden.


How do I get started with container gardening?

Food-producing seeds, seedlings, and plants can be bought with with SNAP benefits. Many grocery stores, farm stands, and farmers markets carry food-producing plants. And be on the lookout for vendors participating in the Double Up Food Bucks program. You’ll be able to buy twice as much for the same price. Participating locations for 2021 can be found on the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention website.

With just a few pots or 5 gallon buckets, container gardening is great for anyone with limited space. Containers allow the gardener to grow plants anywhere there is sunshine. Visit Planning a Vegetable Garden in Arkansas for more information on putting in a container garden at your home.


How long will it take for my garden to start producing?

Days to maturity varies by plant variety, plant-stage at time of purchase, and weather conditions. So keep in mind that if you purchase seedlings, they will take longer to produce than budding or fruiting plants.


What should I consider when deciding where to put my garden?

Many factors should be considered when selecting the garden site. The size of the garden is determined by the available space, the number of members in the family and how the produce will be used.

Sunlight is essential to plant growth. Vegetables should receive a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight during the day. Tomatoes, corn, peppers, cucumbers, root crops and melons need full sunlight. Some of the leafy vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower will tolerate more shade.


Which plants grow well together?

For larger containers or straw bale gardens, let your tastebuds be your guide when it comes to choosing which foods to grow together. Think back to the last time you had pizza for dinner. Do any herb and vegetable flavors come to mind? They would probably grow well together. Roma tomatoes, parsley, basil, oregano, and garlic all make a slice of ‘za better, especially when grown by you.

Here are a few more planting ideas to help get your summer garden started:

Salsa Garden

  • Tomato
  • Bell Peppers
  • Jalapeño
  • Onions
  • Cilantro
  • Tomatillos

Mediterranean Garden

  • Onions
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Eggplant
  • Tomato

Tabbouleh Garden

  • Flat Italian parsley
  • Red onion
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber


Chile Relleno Garden

  • Oregano
  • Onion
  • Poblano peppers
  • Tomato

Cajun Garden

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tobacco pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Creole tomato
  • Okra

Grilling Garden

  • Eggplant
  • Summer Squash
  • Cherry Tomato
  • Bell Pepper
  • Onion


Growing Herbs in Arkansas

Herbs are also a great food to grow in Arkansas. They thrive in the sun and warm weather. They are also easy to maintain. Just water them whenever the soil becomes dry to the touch. Herbs will even grow inside if you have a very sunny window for them. 

It is so wonderful to be able to snip a few sprigs to add flavor to cooking. Herbs are rather expensive at the grocery store and can spoil quickly, so being able to cut them from the back patio is a real treat.

For more ideas on herb gardening, check out our article, Growing Herbs in Arkansas.

Then try this tasty recipe using a couple of homegrown companions - cucumbers and tomatoes.


Cucumber Salad with Tomatoes

Serves 4

  • 2 cups cucumber (diced)
  • 1 cup tomato (seeded and diced)
  • 1/4 cup onion (chopped sweet)
  • 2 cups couscous or rice, cooked
  • 2 teaspoons dill weed (chopped dried or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing, low-fat
  1. Wash hands.
  2. Toss together the cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, couscous (or rice), dill, and salad dressing.
  3. Chill for 1 hour or until ready to serve.

Calories 331
Fat 1g
Protein 5g
Carbohydrate 68g
Fiber 5g
Sodium 344mg