,No Space? No Worries! Containers are the way to go! Not everyone has acres of yard or even enough space for a raised bed or two. Many city dwellers make do with a balcony or small patio, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the benefit of fresh grown vegetables, herbs and flowers. Container gardening is the latest trend in the urban landscape.

Container 1 - Edmonton Horticultural SocietyContainer 2 - Edmonton Horticultural SocietyTo plant a container garden, first decide what you hope to accomplish. Do you want tasty, fresh salad greens? Maybe some basil and tomatoes? Or perhaps you’re more the type to enjoy a colorful display of nasturtiums (great for garnishing a summer meal).

Choose a high quality potting soil designed to retain moisture, and consider a self-watering planter to make life easier. A self-watering container wicks water from below and needs to be refilled less frequently. There are several home-made designs available on the Internet.

Container 3 - Edmonton Horticultural SocietyContainer 4 - Edmonton Horticultural SocietyFor balcony gardening, beware the wind. Plant only those varieties that tolerate excessive wind and whichever light conditions you’re exposed to. Use a lightweight soil mixture. Be sure to secure the containers well, so they aren’t likely to fall over or, worse yet, blow away.

Although not everything will grow happily in a confined space, many seed companies have developed plants that thrive in containers. Any of the smaller varieties of cherry and grape tomatoes do well grown upright, as well as hanging upside down. I prefer the ‘Tumbler’, a cherry tomato with 2 inch fruit.

Peppers do well in containers and thrive in direct sunlight. Strawberries need a minimum 6 hours of sunlight daily, and the pot should be regularly rotated to even out their exposure. Corn makes a dramatic statement in a container, especially when combined with colorful flowers or leafy herbs.

Basil and oregano, mint, chives and parsley all do well in pots and can be interspersed among other plants to provide a nice scent. Grow them for culinary use or to make a lovely fresh herbal tea.

Container 5 - Edmonton Horticultural SocietyContainer 6 - Edmonton Horticultural SocietyFlowers that thrive in planters include marigolds, petunia, zinnia and too many others to mention. Choose a flowering plant that does well in the light conditions available: impatiens in the shade or asters in the sun. If you want more height or are trying to create some privacy, add morning glory or black-eyed Susan vine.


No matter your goal, container gardening can provide the satisfaction of lots of pleasure in a small space, adding a little zen to your summer in the city.

Text and photos by Jane Thrall