How Container Gardening Can Lower Your Grocery Bill

Even gardeners who don’t have much room to work can add variety to their diets and save money with container gardening. Almost any re-purposed pot and pan (including cooking pots), jar or jug will do for a container, depending on what your crops are.

In addition you add curb appeal and whimsy when you let your mind play with what “container” means.

Deciding What to Grow

Although there are wild-cat container gardeners who grow crops like corn and peanuts in pots, several other varieties of fruits, vegetables and kitchen herbs lend themselves more readily to living in containers.

If you’re interested in growing fruit, try dwarf varieties of Meyer lemon, pomegranate and strawberries. In particular, dwarf fruit trees are very carefully developed to grow well in containers. Fruiting plants like raspberries and strawberries are also very decorative, and make for attractive container plantings that add aesthetic appeal to your garden.

Kitchen herbs are great, both because they grow well in containers and, since many are drought plants, they don’t use much water. Culinary sages also add color to plantings and aroma, as does rosemary.

In addition, many herbs are very easy to grow, and when clipped consistently, herbs like basil and cilantro will last a whole season.

If you choose to grow tomatoes, you’ll find several varieties developed to grow in containers– from dwarf beefsteak vines to roma (plum) tomatoes and miniature cultivars, like Sweet 100 salad tomatoes that promise 100 tomatoes per plant on average.

Moreover, many container gardeners have great success with beans, peas, cucumbers and peppers. Shop for seeds at local dollar stores, where they’re usually four or five packs for a dollar. These stores usually offer potting soil as well.

Choosing Containers

It’s easy to start small and cheap with container gardening. Save the seeds from a really good tomato, then fill an old saucepan with potting soil. Your seeds should sprout in ten days to two weeks.

Thin out your planting, and move the extra tomato plants to other containers. In about 60 days, you’ll have some ripe tomatoes.

Otherwise, use your common sense when choosing containers. Dwarf trees need bigger, deeper containers. Add an old broom handle to potting soil in a recycled nursery pot, and you’ve made a free trellis to grow green beans or snap peas. Fill an old tire with potting soil and you have room for a ring of tomato plants, strawberries, herbs or bell peppers.

If you’re one of the small gardeners lucky enough to have open space at one end of a patio balcony, perhaps you have room for a single raised bed, the mother of all garden containers, where you can grow several different vegetables in one space.

Re-Purpose, Recycle & Reclaim Whenever Possible

Hit yard sales and thrift stores to look for used ceramics and other vessels to use as gardening containers, including old plates and saucers to use under pots.

If you keep other plants, remember to re-use the potting soil when you re-pot or downsize your plantings. Dead plants and prunings make excellent compost as well; as does vegetable and fruit waste from the kitchen.

For more gardening tips, read “5 Short Growing Season Plants for Your Last Minute Garden” from our blog at