I'm in Salt Lake City, and I started container gardening most because of my grandmother, who is 101 years old now. I wanted her to be able to see and harvest the tomatoes at her leisure, so I hung buckets from the trellis on her back porch. She has partial shade there due to a flowering vine that grows all over the trellis. I tried a variety of ways of growing the tomatoes, including growing them upside down, out a whole in the bottom.
The most impressive results came from using a standard 5 gallon bucket with the drain hole 2" from the bottom. The bottom was filled with straw up to the hole. The rest was filled with a mixture (no specific ratio) of compost, cheap potting soil, and garden soil as the grow media. The plants growing in these buckets grew far taller, bore fruit earlier, and seem much happier than any other tomatoes in my garden this year.
Right now, I am plumbing more buckets for next year with a makeshift 3/4" PVC bulkhead adapter (http://www.truetex.com/bulkhead.htm
) and a garden hose adapter (http://www.homedepot.com/p/Orbit-3-4-in-Slip-x-MHT-PVC-Hose-Fitting-53361/100119737
) so that I can collect and reuse the run-off from these buckets. I am also installing a catchment system with 330 gal IBCs, a submersible pump, a timer, and a drip irrigation system.
While not directly related to container gardening, I think mentioning our mulching method is very relevant. We bought straw from a local farmer for about $3/bale. We used the straw as a mulch everywhere. It was excellent at keeping moisture in the soil and reducing our need for watering. While we intend on establishing cover crops this fall to serve the same purpose, the straw was cheap and effective. The only unintended consequence was that the straw contained viable wheat, and we ended up with a lot of wheat growing in our potato bed this year.
We have also made efforts everywhere to grow anything anywhere to prevent exposed soil and to reduce the overall temperature of our property. Sunflowers, raspberries, strawberries, various vines, sunchokes, hens and chicks, and squash all spread nearly uncontrollably once established, and we just let them go unless we have another use for that section of the garden.
All of this is to address the issues of very hot summers, expensive municipal water, and direct intense sunlight. I hope some of this helps you survive next year.