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5 Great Outdoor Containers for Growing Vegetables

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Choosing an outdoor container for growing vegetables can be confusing and overwhelming. Here are 5 of my favorite outdoor containers for growing vegetables. Just remember - for vegetable container gardening - the bigger the container, the better.

1. Earthbox

container gardening picture of Earthboxes on dock
Photograph © Kerry Michaels

The Earthbox is one of my favorite outdoor containers and it works amazingly well for vegetable container gardening. These  large, self-watering boxes, are extremely water-efficient and easy to use. The manufacturers claim that an Earthbox can double the harvest of growing vegetables conventionally. I have not only found that growing vegetables in Earthboxes increases yield, I have also found that the size of the vegetables tends to be larger than those grown in other containers. Earthboxes are a little pricey to buy, but they are very durable and are worth the cost.

2. Smart Pots

container gardening picture of Smart Pots
Photograph © Kerry Michaels

Smart Pots are made of a black polypropylene and are fantastic for growing all kinds of vegetables and herbs. Because they are breathable fabric, Smart Pots are good for the roots of your plants, preventing them from becoming root bound.Smart Pots are lightweight, economical, and are particularly great for growing potatoes and tomatoes. I’ve also had success growing lettuce, herbs, blueberries, tomatillos and eggplant.  Smart Pots are also great for urban gardeners and those of us who are storage space challenged  - at the end of the season, you just wash them, fold them up and store them. 

3. Reusable Grocery Bags

container gardening picture of lettuce in a re-usable grocery bag
Photograph © Kerry Michaels

I don't know what it is about reusable grocery bags, but my herbs and vegetable plants seem to love them. I use the type of bags that are soft-sided and have smooth plastic outside and flannel or fabric on the reverse side. I have had great luck growing all kinds of tomatoes in them; from giant to patio-sized plants. I have also grown herbs, lettuce, peas and potatoes and flowering plants in them, all with huge success.

Video - Making an Herb Garden in a Reusable Grocery Bag

4. Straw Bales

container gardening picture of straw bale garden.
Photograph © Kerry Michaels

One of the many advantages of growing a straw bale garden is that it allows you to grow a vegetable garden on any surface. Have a sunny driveway? Plant your garden right on top of it.  Making a straw bale garden is also one of the easiest and least expensive ways to get a fairly big growing space without digging a garden. I like the look of it, but it is distinctly, as my kids would call it, “farm,” looking. By the end of the season, as the bales kind of disintegrate, the garden looks more than a little casual.

Step by step instructions for making a straw bale garden.

5. Large Baskets

container gardening picture of lettuce basket
Photograph © Kerry Michaels

I use a lot of large baskets for outdoor containers, particularly for herbs. If you haunt second hand stores and yard sales you can find lots of big baskets for very little money. I find most baskets weather well, even those that are painted - some becoming even more interesting as they age. I have several ways of preparing baskets – either lining them with moss, or more often, to help retain water, I line them with a lightweight plastic bag – making large holes in the bottom of the bag for drainage.

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