Small Space Preparedness – Grow A Garden in Containers

container gardening

As someone who writes several articles a week about self-sufficiency, prepping and disasters; you may think that your friendly (and dare I say witty?) admin is sitting in the ultimate prepper compound with acres of food and wild game right outside his window.


In fact, I currently live in a very small, yet very inexpensive apartment. Many preppers might scoff at the idea of living in a 600sq ft. apartment, and truth be told, it’s definitely cramped and presents many challenges. However, living in a cheap apartment allows me to save a lot of money; money that will one day help me put down a large cash down payment on my dream homestead.

Living in an apartment as a prepper obviously has its downsides, space being the biggest one. The biggest setback I’ve found with living in an apartment is that I simply don’t have my own land. I can’t go out and relax in my backyard while the kids play; I can’t install rain catchment systems, raise any sort of livestock or do a lot of other preparedness projects that require s good amount of space. In fact for a while, I was pretty bummed thinking that I’d have to wait years before I could really start producing any of my own fruits and vegetables from a garden.

A while back I started reading more about growing a garden out of containers. It changed everything. Even living in a small apartment, I’ve found that it is very possible to produce tons of fresh, healthy foods right from my own small balcony. Today we’re going to look at container gardening in a little more detail, what plants will do the best and produce the most out of containers and how container gardening may very well be better than a conventional in-ground garden in many ways.


10 fruits and vegetables that will grow very well on your balcony

Potatoes – Potatoes are a great choice for container gardening. You could use pots or tubs to grow them in, but potatoes will grow just fine even in a plastic bag. The trick to growing potatoes in a container is to make sure that they NEVER dry out. This means that in the summer months you will probably need to do supplemental watering up to twice a day.

Peppers – Peppers are some of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers. A few tips for growing peppers in containers: Peppers grow vertically and do much better when you use a trellis or other support material. Peppers are heavy feeders. Using rich compost or an organic fertilizer will greatly increase your yield. Pepper plants require more water in the early season than the late season.

Tomatoes – One of the most popular container gardening plants, tomatoes are relatively easy to grow as long as you keep the secret of good tomatoes in mind. Tomatoes require a lot of light to do well, typically 6 or more hours of sunlight per day. This means you will need to determine how much light your small area is getting every day. If it’s not at least 6 hours of direct sunlight, your yields will be small and you should consider growing something else that doesn’t require as much direct light.

Blueberries – Blueberries require a little more planning and attention to do well in containers, but are some of the best tasting and nutritious berries you can grow. Blueberries like acidic soil. This shouldn’t be a problem for the container gardener as you can tweak the soil’s PH level in a confined area like a container very easily without affecting your other plants. Blueberries also require warm summers to ripen well.

Strawberries – If you are growing food in containers, strawberries should be on your list. They’re delicious and they’re ridiculously expensive at the store. Many gardeners get frustrated with strawberries, expecting a large yield right away. That’s not how strawberries work. Strawberries require time. In fact, for the first 2 seasons, you may see very little production at all; this is normal. Just keep doing what you’re doing. As long as you keep the plants moist you’ll have an abundant source of delicious strawberries within a few seasons.     

Lettuces – Lettuces are a great choice for container gardening because most of the varieties prefer shade during the summer. Many apartment gardeners struggle with gardening because they’re confined to a small space and pretty much have to live with whatever sun exposure that spot will give them. If your spot has a lot of shade, lettuce is perfect for you.

Hops – If you’re interested in brewing your own beer, hops is a great plant to grow. If you have a dog, keep them away from your garden (a good idea anyway) because hops plants are extremely toxic to dogs. Hops are also a great plant because after the harvest, simply cut the vine down to around 3 ft. and next year, the entire growing process starts over again. Self-sufficient beer… it’s a wonderful thing.
Radishes – Radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers. If you’re looking to get small children into gardening, have them grow some of their own radishes. They can thrive in a good variety of light conditions, aren’t nutrient hogs and don’t take very long to start producing food. Who knows, if the kids are growing their own radishes, they might just be interested in eating them too!

Green Onions – Green Onions are very easy to grow in containers. Simply cut the root off from the rest of the onion and stick it in your soil. There’s not much too green onions. They grow fast, abundantly and have a good yield.

Carrots – Much like potatoes, carrots are easy to grow in containers. The biggest thing to keep in mind with carrots is the makeup of your soil. Carrots hate big lumps or stones in their soil. Be careful when planting carrots that the soil is light and free of any stones. Carrots aren’t very fussy and don’t need a supplemental nutrients, in fact, you might do more harm than good by adding them.  


How container gardening can actually be BETTER than a conventional garden

Although my hopes are to someday have that ideal, big, outdoor garden using natural soil that I’ve worked hard to improve and will produce enough food to feed a small army, this experience with container gardening has shown that container gardening has a place on any homestead.

Container gardening has so many advantages to it that it would be silly to not integrate it into a well-rounded gardening plan.


  • With container gardening, you can make small micro-soil environments that would take literally years to do in an actual garden. Blueberries are a prime example; there are a lot of places in the country where you’re simply not going to be able to plant a traditional blueberry bush. The soil is just not acidic enough. Using a container, you can very easily adjust the PH of the soil to accommodate this plant.
  • Many gardeners have plants that they’d love to grow but don’t simply because of how invasive they are. There are several plant varieties that will completely take over a garden and require a lot of work to hold back. Using a container, you don’t have to worry about them negatively affecting your other plants.
  • Light conditions – One drawback to the conventional garden is that it can’t be moved. There are a few small things you can do to manipulate sunlight exposure, but once you’ve decided on a spot, you’re kind of stuck with the light conditions of that area. With containers, you can move the plants wherever you need to in order to get the optimal sunlight conditions for plants that may not do as well with the light going to the rest of our garden.


Gardening is one of the most important prepping skills you could possibly learn. As preppers we talk a lot about firearms, food storage and disaster response. These things are very important; but without food, without knowing a way to procure your own food, you’ll always be relying on someone or something else for your survival. You will literally NEVER be self-sufficient or truly prepared for any sort of serious disaster scenario.

So this next season, go out and get some starter plants, some containers and read everything you can about container gardening. Get started, experiment and LEARN. We may not be living in the apocalypse quite yet, but if that day ever comes, you’re going to be glad you did.

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