There’s nothing better than looking out over your patio or backyard to check the progress of your potted garden while sipping a refreshing beverage and watching the sun go down. Growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs in containers is simple in San Diego’s weather, even for newbies. You can even get your green thumb fix indoors with a tray of microgreens, by sprouting mung beans in a jar, or raising oregano or thyme on a window ledge.

Pots and soil

Have fun finding inexpensive containers at garage sales or consider painting your own at a ceramics cafe. Make sure the pot is big enough for your plant’s root system by checking the instructions on tags attached to the tiny pots when you buy seedlings.

Most plants, such as tomatoes, need a whole pot to themselves, but two lettuces can share a container. Tomatoes have deep roots, so each needs a 15-gallon container, according to Armstrong Garden Centers in Carlsbad. Each pot needs a hole at the bottom where water can drain, and be sure to line them with landscape fabric so soil doesn’t leak out. Place small stones inside the bottom of the pot to aid with drainage before adding potting soil and compost. Remember, containers don’t have to be pots. You can use an old kettle or boot, upcycle a yogurt container, or use berry clamshells to grow sprouts in. Some vessels can hang from a trellis, attach to a wall, or sit in an ornamental feature on legs.

Sun and shade

Check tags to make sure you put the plants in the correct spots for their individual sunshine needs. Plants in containers will dry out quickly, so make sure to water them as needed. Plants in plastic pots will warm up quickly, but you can place the pots inside larger ceramic ones to buffer them from the heat. If in doubt, move containers around to give plants a reprieve from the sun.

Growing and eating food is easy and empowering any season. Share your harvest, trade seeds with friends, and before long, your thumb will start looking pretty darn green.

10 ingredients to grow in containers


Use this herb in salads, pesto, and brushcetta

Image: FreshSplash/iStock.


Stuff a branch into a batch of preserved lemons

Image: Zbynek Pospisil/iStock.


Grow bells for stuffing and smaller varieties for fermented chile pastes

Image: HeikeRau/iStock.


Slice and dice into salsas, gazpachos, stews, soups, sauces, and jams

Image: ChiccoDodiFC/iStock.


Muddle this hearty herb in a home-brewed tea or mojito

Image: -lvinst-/iStock.


Roast, mash, hash, fry, and savor

Image: Ivan Dsouza/iStock.


Delightful to have hanging around the breakfast table and for general nibbling

Image: AVNphotolab/iStock.


Whip into cilantro-lime dressing or chop with onion and garnish tacos

Image: Rike/iStock.


Zap spears in an air fryer, grate into salads, bake breads and muffins

Image: Denise Hasse/iStock.

Local Growers Resources

California Farm and Garden 

Geek out on edible landscaping in urban environments. 

Master Gardener Association of San Diego County 

Get answers to questions about gardening and pests free of charge.

San Diego Gardener 

This Facebook group led by Nan Sterman, host of A Growing Passion on KPBS TV, has over 16k members.

San Diego Horticultural Society 

Learn about the region’s 2100+ plant species and complex geography. 

Victory Gardens San Diego 

Take courses for home gardening, amazing for beginners.

Find more Gardening and Growing Resources.

Edible San Diego Issue 67 Fall 2022
Cover image: Lauren Di Matteo.

More to This Story

Potter's Paradise originally published in the fall 2022 issue.

Get more gardening inspiration in the companion story How to Design an Entirely Edible Urban Back Yard exclusively on

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