MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - April 19, 2010) -  (Family Features) Having fresh, homegrown veggies and herbs may seem unreachable for many people because of time and space constraints. Fortunately, container gardens have rapidly become the gardens of choice for many busy Americans. All it takes is a bright sunny spot where you can put some pots or other containers, and bountiful produce is within reach.

Pick your plants.
Most herbs and vegetables are suitable for growing in containers and can be grown from seeds or purchased as seedlings. When choosing seedlings, remember to select short, stocky plants that are not in bloom yet. These will be able to devote more energy to root development, ensuring a healthier start.

Choose your containers. The containers you select will depend on what you grow and the space available. Whiskey barrels, five gallon plastic buckets, window boxes, wooden planters, ceramic or terra cotta pots, and planters made from recycled plastics work beautifully for container gardening. Make sure the container you select has drainage holes in the bottom.

All plants need adequate room for root development, but how much depth is needed varies from plant to plant. In general:

  • Herbs, green onions, lettuce and other small crops need only about five inches of soil to thrive. Choose pots at least 10 inches in diameter.
  • Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, beans, and cucumbers need a container with a diameter of at least 24 inches and at least 18 inches deep.

Add soil. Before adding your potting mix, place a small square of screen material or a handful of small rocks over the drainage hole. This will keep the soil from escaping the pot while still allowing water to drain properly. Fill containers with high-quality potting soils, such as Miracle-Gro Potting Mix or Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix, keeping the soil level to about three inches from the top.

Plant. Place your container where it will receive 6 to 8 hours of sun per day. If you choose to start with seeds, follow package directions for sowing. If you're planting seedlings or small plants, loosen up any roots that appear to be restricted or curled up around the bottom of the starter container. Dig out a small area in your pot for each plant, being sure to leave enough room between to allow for growth. A 24-inch pot can hold one tomato plant in the middle and a few herbs or greens around the edge. A 10-inch pot can nicely accommodate a few herbs, green onions, lettuce, or even a strawberry plant.

Water and feed. Immediately after planting, water fully until moisture is leaking out of the drainage holes in the bottom. Container gardens tend to dry out faster than the in-ground variety and the smaller the pot, the more often you will have to water. Make sure to check for soil dryness regularly to ensure that your plants are not wilting. You may need to water once or even twice a day when it's very warm. Follow up with regular feedings by using Miracle-Gro Watering Can Singles. Just pop one pre-measured packet into your watering can and mix with a gallon of water every two weeks.

You don't need to have a farm to grow delicious vegetables for your dinner and salads. With a minimal investment and some simple steps you can use spaces like patios, balconies, window boxes, and porches to create an incredible, edible garden.

For more great ideas and recipes visit: http://www.scotts.com/smg/brand/miraclegro/groouttoeat/.