Container Gardening Advice from a Non-Gardening Mama


I want to be a gardener. I really do. I want fruits, veggies and flowers galore! But, those things don’t tell me they’re hungry and thirsty a million times a day like my kids do. Also, we live in the city. It doesn’t make sense to take up valuable running/jumping/cartwheeling green space with a garden. So, I did what anyone would do when their garden dreams were squelched. I pouted, became grumpy, and complained to my husband. Then I went to Pinterest.

That’s when I discovered container gardens. Gardens, planted and maintained in a flower pot. What?! I can do that. I have a few flower pots lying around that I can test this on. I also have room on my deck, since these pots won’t take up much space. So, I tried it. 

And guess what? This will be my fourth year having a container garden. It’s amazing! It’s manageable! This non-gardening mama finally has her “garden.”

I did learn a few things along the way.

First, start small. That was hard for me. I wanted to jump right in and plant all of the veggies and fruits I could get my hands on. But, I also didn’t want to fail. I wanted this to work. So, I talked myself down and started small, with about three plants. 

Second, choose the right plants. Find out what plants are good for the area you live in. Look at the location you plan to house your pots. Check for sun or shade. That will help determine what you plant. And, plant only what you and your family will eat. Last year I planted cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, green and red peppers, romaine lettuce, and strawberries. I do not like tomatoes, but my daughter and husband do. So as long as they continue to eat those, I’ll keep planting them! 

Another tip: buy starter plants.

I would love to tell you I’ve planted seeds, kept them warm inside the house, loved them, watered them, talked to them. But I haven’t. I buy plants. I will always buy plants. It might be cheating a bit, but I know my weaknesses and growing veggies from seeds is not my strong suit. Check your local greenhouses and farmer’s markets – shop local!

My next piece of advice — don’t give up.

If a plant dies (which will most likely happen) try again. Choose a different type of plant next year. Move your pots to a new location. Experiment. We’re moms, we’re used to experimenting with our kids to see what works best. The same is true for this. At least plants won’t complain like our kids do when we change things up on them. I think I may branch out this year and add a new veggie to the mix. What’s the worst that could happen? It dies? Oh well. Try again. 

Finally, get your family involved!

This is huge. My daughter was so excited to eat the first tomato that she grew. She loves checking the plants every day and watering them. She is giddy to pick the ripe veggies. My sons are just starting to get into it. I can’t wait to have them help this year. I’m sure they won’t eat anything because, to them, veggies are the most wretched creations to ever come from this Earth. But, at least they can take part in this activity; even through clenched teeth and gagging noises.

So, from a mama who is definitely not a gardener, I hope you can find some space on your deck for a few pots of veggies and fruits this summer. It really is a fun, family-friendly summer activity with almost instant gratification (in about 1-3 months). Happy planting!


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