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The Time-Starved Gardener’s Guide to Container Gardening

The Time-Starved Gardener’s Guide to Container Gardening

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Want to keep your gardener spirit alive but don’t have time for a full-blown in-ground garden?

Meet container gardening — the more affordable, less time-consuming, and more space-efficient alternative to traditional gardening.

In this guide for gardening with limited time, I’m showing you how to put together a container garden and sharing my top recommendations for fast-growing plants to get you started!

How To Set Up a Container Garden

Follow these steps to kick-start your container garden in no time:

1. Plan for Your Space

Begin by measuring the area where you want to have your container garden.

This could be anything from a portion of a porch patio to the sill of a window, so preparing is key to determining the size, shape, and number of containers needed.

2. Gather Your Tools and Supplies

Now that you have an estimation of the space you want to fill, your next order of business is to ready the necessary tools and supplies for the container garden.

Here’s a list of what you’d typically use to start and maintain a container garden, so go through it and buy whatever you don’t already own:

  • Pots/Containers

These are available in various shapes and sizes, allowing you to pick those that fit in your space.

Choose pots/containers that promote good soil drainage to prevent root rot, especially if you’re planting fruits or veggies. Since porous pots won’t cause water to pool at the bottom, the roots develop stronger and form a wider network throughout the soil.

You can DIY this in non-draining pots/containers by drilling or hammering a few holes into their bottom and then placing some rocks inside before adding the soil.

  • Soil

If you don’t have potting soil on hand, you’ll need to buy some. Make sure the soil is not marked for outdoor use only.

  • Fertilizer and pH Treatment

These materials will depend on the plant types you’re planning to grow, but you can get a general enriching fertilizer that covers the basics.

  • Seeds/Seedlings

These will also depend on the plant you want to grow. You can cultivate seeds directly or use start plants for an easier job.

  • Gardening Equipment

These may include gardening gloves, a watering can, a weeder, a hand fork, a hand trowel, and a transplanter.

3. Add and Till the Soil

With your tools and supplies ready, you can start setting up the container garden by filling your pots/containers with soil. Be sure to till the soil to promote aeration and thorough moistening.

Do this by adding a bit of the soil, wetting it, and then using a tiller before repeating the same thing with the rest of the soil until the pot/container is full.

4. Plant Your Greens

Dig appropriately sized holes in the soil for the seeds or seedlings. Add some organic fertilizer to each hole before placing the seed/start plant in it.

5. Adjust the Pots’ Positions

The proper placement of your pot/container depends on the light requirements of its plant.

The packaging of the seeds or seedlings should have this information on it to help you deliver the optimal amount of sunlight to plants.

6. Take Care of Your Plants

Congrats – you’re now officially a container gardener!

From this point on, you need to care for your plants according to their temperature, watering, fertilizing, and humidity requirements.

Note that soil dries faster in pots/containers, so pay extra attention to your plants’ watering schedule.

What to Grown in a Container Garden if You’re Short on Time

Here are some plant options to grow in your container garden, and they don’t take too long to harvest!


Kale, spinach, and lettuce are among the plants that’ll thrive in a container garden.

Celery, onions, carrots, and lettuce are also part of that list, particularly if you’re starting in the cool season.

Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are suitable for the warm season. Zucchinis, cucumber, and summer squash also do well in containers when it’s warm, but stick to bushy varieties to save space.

  • If you choose to grow tomatoes, you need to take care not to water them too frequently as they’re easy to over-water.


Almost all herbs, such as mint, anise, and parsley, are perfect for container gardening. Other examples include chives, basil, chamomile, thyme, lemon balm, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, hyssop, and sage.

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