The First-Time Gardener: Container Food Gardening

All the know-how you need to grow veggies, fruits, herbs, and other edible plants in pots

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Pub Date 07 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 11 Jan 2024

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“Straightforward instructions, matrices, photos, and illustrations make this one of my new favorite gardening books.”  —Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor

Growing your own fresh, organic food in containers is a great way to begin your gardening journey! This friendly guide includes everything you need to know to get started.

What’s holding you back from growing your own food? Are you nervous about having enough space? Do you question whether or not you have the time to make it happen? Are the growing conditions you have a little questionable? Is your budget at a bare-bones minimum? Then container gardening is the answer to all of your concerns! With a minimal investment in time, money, and space, and The First-Time Gardener: Container Food Gardening at your side, start your very first garden in containers, instead of in the ground. You just may find you’re capable of growing fantastic yields in spite of all your initial hesitations.

Container gardens can take up as much or as little room as you’d like. They’re portable, so you can locate them wherever conditions are optimal for plant growth. And, you can grow just about any veggie in pots, as long as you have the right container, the right soil blend, and the right care tips. In these pages, author Pam Farley of lines the path to container food gardening success in clear, simple steps.

Not only will you learn how to get started, you’ll also discover: 
  • What size container you need for each different veggie 
  • Why filling the pot with the perfect soil blend matters so much
  • When to fertilize and how often to water 
  • Where to locate your container food garden for optimum production 
  • What to do if problems arise and how to fix them 
  • Tips for everything from staking and pruning your veggie plants to knowing when it’s time to harvest

Plus, find a dozen fully illustrated planting plans for themed container food gardens, including a Smoothie Greens Garden, a Spring Stir-Fry Garden, a Spaghetti Sauce Garden, a Salad Greens Garden, and many others.

No room? No problem. Lousy soil? Nothing to worry about. Not enough time? Think again. Growing food in containers is fun, easy, and perfect for beginners.

This book is part of The First-Time Gardener’s Guides series from Cool Springs Press, which also includes The First-Time Gardener: Raised Bed Gardening, The First-Time Gardener: Growing Plants and Flowers, and The First-Time Gardener: Growing Vegetables. Each book in The First-Time Gardener’s Guides series is aimed at beginner gardeners and offers clear, fact-based information that’s presented in a friendly and accessible way, including step-by-step instructions and full-color illustrations throughout.
“Straightforward instructions, matrices, photos, and illustrations make this one of my new favorite gardening books.”  —Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor

Growing your own fresh, organic food in containers...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780760378137
PRICE $26.99 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

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Average rating from 29 members

Featured Reviews

I'm a novice gardener and have not been successful with containers to date. There is so much information on the internet that it can be overwhelming. So I appreciated the simple, straightforward content and layout of this novel. It covered everything one needs to try container gardening but not too much information. I also appreciate recommendations for what foods to try.

Please note that I read and reviewed this title in January/February in Minnesota. So I have been unable to actually practice the strategies and directions contained therein. But I have renewed confidence to try come the spring and summer.

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This book was really handy. I have gardened before, but I don't consider myself super knowledgeable. But this is laid out in way that makes you feel confident and secure in your efforts to sustain your family from your own back yard. It really is for any level of gardener.

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A beautiful book, filled with practical and down-to-earth (in pots) information for anyone interested in producing their own food. Great disposition, layout and illustrations.

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This has a lot of great information for all levels of container gardeners! While it's probably not something you're going to just sit down and read cover to cover it seems like it'd be a great reference to have on your shelf.

Farley does a good job of breaking down the book into different section like water, container types, soil etc. She also gives handy charts for common plants so you can quickly look up what size container you may need for a plan you're looking to grow. She also gives fun combinations for containers that had my wheels spinning about what I could do in some of my half barrel planters!

There are a lot of pictures to accompany the words as well. I appreciated that it was accessible for all levels of gardener.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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A great addition to anyone’s gardening library! It covers the full scope of container gardening, from what to look for in pots and seeds to planting guides, soil guides, and troubleshooting. This might seem small, but my favorite parts were the detailed photo instructions of both transplanting seedlings and direct seeding into pots. It struck me that, for a beginner gardener, there are not many books that show a photo progression for the steps of actually putting a plant in a pot. There are lots of descriptions with sparse illustrations, but the process remains obscure unless you SEE the steps either working alongside an experienced gardener or very detailed photos. Excellent book and would highly recommend for anyone starting a container garden. Also! Definitely Kid-friendly/Homeschooler-approved!

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I love container gardening, and this is a perfect book for anyone interested in the subject. It gives all the dos and don'ts of container gardening, and tells the full story of how to do it and be successful. This with great pictures makes it the perfect read!

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Very easy-to-read guide on basically everything to do with planting veggies and fruits, and with step-by-step instructions. The visual aids are clear and helpful, and the text being in tables or coloured boxes really helps keep your focus on what you are reading or draws your attention to the important information you might need. Great gift for a friend or family member who has begun the journey of gardening, or even for oneself.

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Brilliant photographs showing the actual plants grown. I want to grow chard now I have seen the container grown plant. Tables of information eg for a variety of herbs - which seeds, container size, seed or start, sun, water, fertiliser, when to harvest. Almost guaranteed success. Probably the best container gardening book I have experienced. I hate recipe books that you realise the recipes have not been tried and tested. This book has a photograph of plants that really have been grown throughout the season. I certainly feel that we can do the same. This book is Inspirational and informative.

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I have a container garden that I started 3 years ago and this book helped me with some new tips and ideas for this upcoming spring that I'm anxious to try. This was really helpful.
I just reviewed The First-Time Gardener: Container Food Gardening by Pamela Farley. #TheFirstTimeGardenerContainerFoodGardening #NetGalley
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I am SO impressed with this book. I never thought of creating themed container garden space, such as a spaghetti sauce garden or a fruit garden. The diagrams showing how those could be laid out in the container were helpful for my visualization. I loved the section of bad bugs and good bugs, how to fertilize, mulching, and more. I’m giving this book five stars because of its through inclusion of topics and content.

However, I may need a “6-star” book, or maybe “7-stars”. Last year, my first attempt at container gardening was an abysmal failure. Yield: one small tomato. I need this book to go just a step further so I’m not looking up YouTube videos for more information. I need to amend soil? I suspect that involves more than what is deceived within the book. What about harsh weather like heat or too much rain- what then? I wish the publish had provided this fantastic author with more pages. I bet she has the answer.

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If you've ever thought how good it would be to be able to pop out into the garden and pick some fruit and vegetables for a meal – but realised that you wouldn't know where to start, this is the book you need. It's comprehensive: you'll cover everything from why you should grow your own food, what you're going to grow, what you'll grow it in (both containers and soil), where you'll put these containers, how you'll water and fertilise them and you finish the main part of the book with a handy section on troubleshooting. There's also a good glossary. So, is it any good?

I came to this book from a strange direction. We recently moved house. I left behind a massive raised vegetable bed, fruit bushes in containers and a greenhouse which kept us in tomatoes and cucumbers. I needed three freezers to store all the excess produce. Then we moved. I now have a stunning formal garden, the sort that makes you think that you need to be a grown-up gardener to do it justice but you don't know if you're that grown up. There's a big disadvantage though: there is nowhere to grow food. I've now relocated the bin area and I'm going to grow some food there in containers – but I'm having to start from basics.

I was hooked by the first picture I saw: a container of vegetables, interplanted with herbs and flowers. It's practical and beautiful. That's a good start. It also assumes that you know very little and explains many of the terms which other books assume you understand. If it's not explained in the glossary, you can contact the author via her website. There's advice about what you should look for when buying plants which are gold dust. By the time you're through this section, you feel confident.

Grow what you like to eat might seem obvious advice but you'd be surprised how few gardeners follow it. There's an excellent quick planting guide which tells you all you need to know about planting – the container size, when to plant, sun or not, water and fertilizer requirements and when to harvest. It covers fruit, herbs and vegetables and by the time you've worked your way through it, your mouth will be watering. For more gold dust, have a look at the section on companion – and repellent – planting. There are some one-sentence gems: kids who grow vegetables love to eat vegetables. There are some lovely examples of what they could grow that are also decorative.

If you wouldn't eat out of it, don't grow in it is excellent advice when choosing containers, but this isn't a book that's precious about what you use as a planter. Size and drainage matter but upcycling is encouraged. I liked the advice on which containers to avoid - and why - but I was particularly impressed by the (simple) idea of how to winterise your containers. Moving onto what you put into the containers, I'm now going to make my own potting soil: it has got to be better than some of the stuff I spend money on.

My new area for the container-grown food is protected from the prevailing westerly winds, sheltered from the north and open to the south and east. I've now got a list of plants which will thrive in each of the areas. From being a problem, this is now starting to feel like fun. I've also got the watering sorted out – and a water butt appropriately placed.

You're also going to learn about pollinators and how we can attract them. How about a bee bath? Fertilising has always been a bit hit and miss for me, but Pamela Farley gives us a simple guide which takes all the mystery out of the subject. She's equally good on mulches: not all are created equal.

The final section is on troubleshooting, with the best advice being 'don't panic'. This book was a quick, easy read but it's one which I know I'm going to return to time and time again. I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.

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The First-Time Gardener: Container Food Gardening; All the know-how you need to grow veggies, fruits, herbs, and other edible plants in pots by Pam Farley was wonderful! I am planning my first garden this year and this was the perfect book.

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"Container Food Gardening" is a gardening book for beginners. It started with basics like step-by-step illustrated instructions for planting a seed or transplanting a seedling. The author also provided the basics for container food gardening, like what size of container to use for different plants, what types of fruits and veggies grow well in containers, how much soil is needed for the various sizes of containers, and the different types of container materials. She also suggested different plant combinations for a larger container, like an herbal mix or a "spaghetti sauce" or "salad greens" garden. She then covered preparing repurposed containers (disinfecting, adding drainage holes, etc.), where to put the containers (considering sun, wind, buildings creating microclimates), how and when to water (with troubleshooting tips), what type of potting mix to get (or make your own), choosing and using fertilizers, mulch, and soil amendments, and troubleshooting plant, insect, and animal problems. A least half of the book was pictures of various container gardens, demonstrations of how to do something, or illustrations of the suggested gardens, mulches, etc. Overall, I'd recommend this book, especially to first-time gardeners interested in container gardening.

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“To the brand new gardeners all over the world: You Got This! May your harvests be spectacular and your troubles few.” - this book

The author has a website, if you want to check it out. This book is a “how to” for container gardening and has some of the most beautiful illustrations I’ve seen. The book answers a lot of questions for newbies and I loved the “quick planting guide” that’s just for the containers. With that the author explains everything and provides a chart for “companion plants.” And there is a “theme” pots section that has great ideas that I’m definitely going to try. And some troubleshooting. I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a good resource.
Thanks Quarto Publishing Group via NetGalley.

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I would like to thank Quarto Publishing Group for providing me with an ARC.

I have been container growing for a few years and have some great success. This book seemed interesting, and it never hurts to see if I can learn something new. I think this book is great for those who are just starting out or those who have been gardening for a while. This book is easy to read with some great images. It is easy to navigate and has some great information.

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Great pictures, simplifies gardening excellent for beginners, please see full review on Goodreads which I have already posted. I enjoyed this book I wish I had gotten a paper copy. It's great

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I started my first container garden last year with only mild success. Looking up gardening tips on the internet brought a mixed variety of results. So, I was happy to find this book that is all about container gardening and is written for a beginning gardener.

This book is divided into chapters covering everything from types of containers, types of soils, types of plants, amount of sunlight, watering plants, good versus bad insects, and issues to watch for. There is a glossary at the end of the book along with an index so it's easy to find information specific to your needs. The author also shares her website so that you can message her with any additional questions about container gardening you may have. There are pages of pot designs focused on different themes so that you can plant based on your interests. For example, there is a container design for kids, one for salsa, one for tomato sauce, one for smoothie vegetables, and many other fun combinations.

I learned a lot from this book and have a much better idea of how to set up my container garden this spring. I was blessed with an eARC of this book via #NetGally and #CoolSpringsPress and will be looking to buy a hard copy of the book as soon as it is published so that I have it for regular reference. If you are looking to start a container garden, I highly recommend this book. It is well-organized and easy to follow.

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Being basically a first time container gardener this past summer, I really enjoyed learning new advice, tips and tricks for this coming garden. I loved the descriptions and information from container size suggestions to dirt/soil recommendations to placement. I am excited to try out what I have learned this summer!

Thank you to Pamela Farley, Quarto Publishing Group, and NetGalley for allowing my to read an advance copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest review.

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The First-Time Gardener: Container Food Gardening is a good guide for those starting out with growing their own vegetables, fruits, and herbs in pots. It is separated into the following sections, which I have listed with some highlights of important information contained within.

Why Grow Your Own Food?: Lists information on freshness, variety, health, environmental impact, advantages to container gardening, plants vs. seeds; types of seeds and how to plant

Decide What to Grow: Highlights such topics as grow what you like, think long term, planting guides, best plants to grow

Choose Your Containers: What containers to use and how, container size, benefits and pitfalls to upcycling containers

Container Gardening Soil: How to choose type of soil, how to make your own

Sun and Location: Goes into topics like sun vs. shade, how placement affects yield

Watering: When and how to water, attracting pollinators

Fertilizing and Soil: How to amend soil, different types, how to apply fertilizers

Troubleshooting: Issues such as plant problems, insect problems, and animal problems

Overall, The First-Time Gardener: Container Food Gardening has great photographs, colorful pages, and is well laid out. There are good text boxes scattered throughout, highlighting different problems or issues readers might have so they can be easily seen on the page. I would definitely recommend this guide to all looking to container garden.

Disclaimer: I was given an Advanced Reader's Copy by NetGalley and the publisher. The decision to read and review this book was completely my own.

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This is a very well laid out book about container gardening, suitable for the complete beginner. There are clear photos and interesting tips. I particularly liked the section on fertilisers, as this is something I don't tend to do. Also the watering section was helpful. The planting guides would be very helpful to beginners. The 'Planting Recipes' section was really interesting, I'm definitely going to try a few of those!

Thank you to Net Galley and the publishers for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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