How to Choose Containers for Growing Food


Container gardening has become a popular way to grow your own herbs and vegetables and, if you choose the right containers and take the right precautions, then growing your own food can be rewarding. It is, however, important to think about certain things before you choose your containers for food.

Since we are experts at helping large scale industries choose the right shipping and storing container based on their specific needs, we can help you determine the right one for your home garden. There is nothing we like more than seeing a new life being created out of containers that are no longer of use to their initial purpose. We also strongly believe in green solutions that allow us to recycle and reuse, rather than adding objects, such as bulk containers, to the landfill. 

Unlike growing plants for pleasure, growing food requires you to consider the fact that the food will be consumed by you and your family, and there are some considerations you need to keep in mind, like contaminants and safety.

Here are the most important aspects you need to consider when selecting a container for your home garden.

Container Type

 The first thing you need to study is the specific type of container. What is the container made of? Is it made of an organic substance, is it plastic or a manmade substance like metal? How porous is the container? Terracotta, wood, and plastic can be extremely porous, and this means that the container may still contain remnants of the substances that were stored in the container previously.

Metal containers can leach lead or other trace elements that can be harmful. It is important to realize that plants absorb minerals and nutrients from the soil. A nutrient-rich soil will produce nutrient-rich plants that will feed your family, but contaminants in the soil can also be absorbed. If your container is leaching a harmful substance, that substance can end up in the plants you grow, and these may then end up on your dinner table. 

Lead, for example, is toxic to humans. Asbestos can be harmful to your family’s health. Make sure the container cannot leach lead or release asbestos into your vegetables or into the environment. You should also take note of the paint or covering used on the container. Many older paints are lead-based paints, and these can leach lead into the soil as well.

It is therefore vital to do some homework on the containers you choose. Just because a container is organic, like wood or terracotta, does not mean it is healthy or that it does not contain contaminants that can harm your family, which is why it is also important to check the history of your container.

The Container’s History

 Once you know more about your container, if it is porous, you need to do some research on what the container has been used to store in the past. If it was used to store dangerous chemicals and the container is porous, then there is a high likelihood that the chemicals could have leached into the container, and that trace amounts of these chemicals can seep into the soil that your plants are growing in. This could affect the health of your vegetables and your family’s health if they eat the produce grown in these containers.

Make sure the container was not used to store harmful fungicides, pesticides, or other chemicals that can affect the health of your plants or your family. Just because a container was used on a farm, for example, does not guarantee that it will be safe for the purposes of growing food.

If your container is plastic, then you should take careful note of the markings on the plastic. Certain types of plastic are not suitable for food containers. There may be recycling marks on the container. Certain types of recycled plastic containers are suitable for food, but if the container has markings that include “V,” “PS,” or “Other,” then the container is most like not suitable for growing food.

If you are not sure about the container you are selecting, ask the seller for a material data sheet. This sheet contains information on the products used to create the container, and it will shed some light on whether the container is suitable for growing vegetables and food.

Using an Internal Container

If you are uncertain about whether the container you have chosen is suitable for your food, then you could choose to buy food-safe containers and use the second-hand containers for form rather than function. That way, you can take advantage of the great looks of the containers you have chosen without putting your family’s health at risk. Choose containers that are similar in size to the outer containers you have chosen, and then use mulch or bark chips to cover the top of the plants to hide the inner container.