Growing vegetables in containers is touted as something you do if you’re an urbanite without space for a “real” garden. People often turn to container gardening when back or knee pain make bending and digging too difficult, or when the soil is so poor that it’s incapable of supporting life.
How about growing vegetables in containers because it’s a rewarding, enjoyable activity? No excuse is required. More and more people are discovering that container gardening is a perfectly viable method for growing vegetable crops.
Container gardening is so popular these days that growers have created dwarf versions of even super-size plants (like watermelons).
In fact, some vegetables actually thrive in smaller accommodations.
1. Tomatoes are a little on the fussy side, and thus, they’re perfectly suited for containers. Growing tomatoes in containers makes it easier to monitor and control soil moisture, and it’s easy to move the plants to take advantage of warmth and sunlight. Cherry or grape varieties are ideal, but most types of tomatoes, including standard sizes, do well in pots measuring a minimum of 22 inches in diameter.
2. Lettuce has shallow roots and tends to grow best in containers that are not too deep. A small container on a front step is handy for easy snipping, while a larger container can accommodate a seed mix for colorful, flavorful salads. Move the pot to a shady spot on sunny afternoons.
3. Spinach needs rich soil, easy to provide in containers filled with a lightweight, compost-based potting mix. Locate the container where it’s sunny during the day and cool at night, and then harvest the power-packed leaves as needed.
4. Swiss chard is a durable, heat-tolerant plant that grows like crazy in containers. Harvest when the leaves are young and tender for the best flavor.
5. Potatoes are easy to plant and even easier to dig in containers, and you may be surprised how many spuds you can harvest. Try smaller varieties like Yukon gold or red Pontiac.
6. Eggplant is an attractive plant that thrives in containers, but you’ll probably have the best luck with compact varieties like Patio Baby, which produces plenty of mild-flavored, miniature fruit. Little Fingers, with clusters of three to six, long, narrow, deep purple eggplants, is yummy when harvested at finger-size.
7. Carrots do well in containers with a depth of at least 12 inches, or try short, round carrots for shallower pots. Thin the plants as they develop and enjoy the tender, finger-sized carrots. Varieties worth trying include Thumbelina or Short ‘N Sweet.
8. Cucumbers don’t tolerate cold and should be planted in early summer in most climates. Dwarf plants with compact vines are best suited for containers, but you’ll still need a trellis to support the vines. Consider Arkansas Little Leaf, Spacemaster, Fanfare or Patio King, or try your hand at small “lemon” cucumbers.
9. Radishes, dwarf veggies by their very nature, are easy to grow in containers. Their speedy growth and colorful appearance makes them the perfect vegetable for young gardeners.
10. Summer squash is one of those vegetables that seem ill-suited for containers, but compact varieties like Spacemiser zucchini or Sunburst scalloped squash perform amazingly well in pots.
What vegetables would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below: