What Containers Are Safe To Grow Vegetables In?

Growing your own vegetables at home is the first step to living a more frugal, self-sufficient lifestyle. It is easy to accomplish, budget-friendly, and fun for the entire family. 

But, what do you do when you’re not quite ready to grow a traditional garden or space is limited?

Container gardening is one of the easiest ways to begin growing your own vegetables at home when you’re limited on space. You can grow the vegetables just about anywhere; it’s easy to maintain and perfect for beginner gardeners. 

In this article, we will discuss:

  • How to choose the best containers for growing vegetables?
  • Are plastic containers safe for growing vegetables?
  • Are fabric pots safe for growing vegetables?
  • What are a few inexpensive containers to use in vegetable gardening?

Whether you’re a beginner gardener or a seasoned expert, anyone can grow vegetables at home. Keep reading to learn what containers are safe to grow vegetables in.

Vegetables and herbs growing in containers

Best Containers for Growing Vegetables

Whether you choose to use inexpensive household items, plastics, or more decorative, costly garden pots, determine what type of containers to use for your home garden before planting.

When choosing what container to use for your urban garden, avoid using containers previously used to store chemicals, materials contaminated with lead and asbestos, or treated wood.

Is it Safe to Grow Vegetables in Plastic Containers?

Plastic containers are often used in vegetable gardening, and there are several options to choose from when planting.

Plastic garden pots, plastic storage containers, and plastic 5-gallon buckets are commonly used. Additionally, many grow bags are also made of plastic.

What Number Plastic is Safe for Growing Food?

Numbers and symbols are used to identify the chemical makeup of the plastic. The number is surrounded by a triangle and can usually be found on the bottom of the plastic container.

The identification system helps determine what plastics are safe to use with food. 

  • 1- Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
  • 2- High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
  • 3- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • 4- Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
  • 5- Polypropylene (PP)
  • 6- Polystyrene PS Expanded Polystyrene EPS (PS)
  • 7- Other
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Which Plastic Containers Are Safe for Growing Vegetables?

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), several types of plastics are deemed safe to use with food and can be used for growing vegetables.

  • High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) – High-density polyethylene is a plastic used when making water bottles, milk jugs, and buckets. It is one of the most versatile types of plastics known for its durability and high melting point. 
  • Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) – Low-density polyethylene is another common plastic used in trash bags and water bottles. This type of plastic is lightweight, water-resistant, and durable.
  • Polypropylene (PP) -Polypropylene is a strong plastic commonly used for making food containers. Of all the plastics used for container gardening, containers made from polypropylene are considered one of the safest.

Is it Toxic to Grow Vegetables in Plastic Containers?

While most plastics are safe to use in growing vegetables, some types of plastic should never be used in your home garden.

  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) – PVC is very toxic, releasing fumes and could be dangerous for your vegetables.
  • Polystyrene (PS) – Polystyrene is generally used to make plastic utensils and egg cartons. Referred to as styrofoam, PS is known to cause certain types of cancer.
  • Polyethylene Terephthalate – This type of plastic is only suitable for one-time use. Extreme heat and weather elements can cause this plastic to break down.

Is Black Plastic Safe for Vegetable Garden?

Yes, black plastic is safe to use in vegetable gardens. 

Black plastic is commonly used in plastic sheeting that protects plants from weather elements, weeds, and other harmful substances like treated wood garden boxes.

Is it Safe to Grow Vegetables in Storage Containers?

Storage containers are generally safe to use when growing vegetables. However, before using storage containers for your garden container, ensure it is made with an approved material and safe to use with food.

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Is it Safe to Grow Vegetables in Home Depot Buckets?

Home Depot buckets are safe to grow vegetables as long as you know how the bucket is made. Most plastic buckets are made using high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and have an identification number of 2.

What Pots Are Safe for Growing Food?

There are several types of garden pots to choose from when it comes to growing vegetables. Most are inexpensive, can be found at the local plant store, and are often reusable.

  • Plastic pots
  • Ceramic pots
  • Clay pots
  • Fabric Pots

Is it Safe to Grow Vegetables in Ceramic Pots?

Ceramic pots are often used in landscaping but can also be used in vegetable gardening. They are easy to use and can be placed anywhere with enough sun, whether on a patio, window sill, or balcony.

Are Fabric Pots Safe for Growing Vegetables?

One of the more expensive containers used in modern vegetable gardening is fabric pots. Using fabric pots to grow vegetables is a reasonably new concept but has increased in popularity in recent years. 

Most fabric pots are made from sturdy, breathable fabric like felt. They range in sizes from 2-gallons to 100-gallons and a known to last for many years. 

They are environmentally friendly, easy to use, and beneficial for the plant. Typically, the plant roots will grow toward the sides of the pot, becoming twined together and root-bound.

However, with a fabric pot, when the plant roots reach the sides of the pot, they will dry out and die. When the roots die off, the plant continues to grow lateral roots allowing for a more sturdy plant.

Best Size Containers for Growing Vegetables

Containers should be the right size, have the proper depth, and allow for adequate drainage to promote healthy vegetable growth.

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Smaller pants require the container to be at least two gallons in volume and be four to six inches in depth. Larger plants require more room. These plants need a five-gallon or more container about 12-18 inches deep.

Cheap Containers To Grow Vegetables

Whether growing vegetables in regular household containers or affordable containers found at thrift stores, there are plenty of cheap containers to grow vegetables in.

  • Milk jugs, water bottles, and coffee cans
  • Baskets
  • Kitchenware
  • Old tree stumps and wheelbarrows
  • Wooden pallet planters

Food Safe Containers for Growing Vegetables

There are several suitable containers used for growing vegetables, and almost any vegetable can be grown using a container. Many gardeners use plastic, whether a 5-gallon plastic bucket, plastic storage containers, or regular plastic garden pots.

 Clay and ceramic pots, fabric pots, and wooden planter boxes also work well.

5 Vessels that can be Used for Container Gardening

These are the top 5 vessels used for container gardening.

  • Plastic Garden Pots – While traditional plastic garden pots may not be the fanciest, they work wonders in urban gardens.
  • Clay or Terracotta Pots – Clay pots are quite porous and may require extra watering. However, the clay will help draw out the water from the soil, which often prevents root rot. 
  • Ceramic Pots – Ceramic garden pots are more decorative than any other type of pot. They are typically made of clay, then finished with a glaze to help retain moisture. 
  • Wooden Planter Boxes – Wooden planter boxes are generally safe for growing vegetables. However, make sure to use non-treated wood. 
  • Grow Bags – Grow bags work well when planting vegetables that do not have a deep root system like tomatoes.