There is nothing quite as delicious as a home-grown vegetable. There's something special about the work you put in, the pleasure of watching your plants grow and produce fruit, and then the joy of the freshest veggies imaginable. But what if you don't have a big garden patch? What if all you can work with is a balcony or terrace? What vegetables can you grow in pots?
The good news is, there are many varieties of veggies that can be grown in pots! Here's a brief list:
- Green Beans
- Squash & Pumpkins
We'll look at each of these vegetables in more detail below. We'll share growing instructions and the varieties that work best for pots and containers. So please read on.
Tomato or Solanum Lycopersicum is one of the favorite plants for home gardeners to grow. They are wildly versatile and can be grown in pots, raised beds, hanging baskets, or even upside down.
Tomato plants typically have fuzzy mid-green stalks and leaves. The bloom that happens before the fruit is generally yellow followed by the start of the tomato. Tomatoes need regular watering, but too much moisture can cause rot and disease problems. For container tomatoes, an organic potting mix will give you a nice lightweight, nutritional soil that should work well.
Varieties to consider growing are Sungolds, Tumbling Toms, Yellow Pear, Burpees Pixie, and Big Boy Bush tomatoes.
Cucumbers come right after tomatoes in terms of ease of producing for home gardeners. We often think of cucumbers, or Cucumis Sativas, as vining plants that need lots of space, but there are many bush varieties that will work well for the container garden. Consider planting varieties like SaladBush, Patio Snacker, or Spacemaster cucumbers.
You may need to supply your cucumber plant with some bamboo stakes to climb on or just for a bit of extra strength when the vegetables begin to ripen. As for the care of your cucumber, it will need 6-8 hours of daily sunlight, moist soil, and the room to grow up a trellis or support of some type.
3. Green Beans
Green beans are so delicious when picked off the vine and eaten raw. So aren't we glad they can be grown in containers? Green beans, or Phaseolus Vulgaris, are a vining plant typically, but they also come in bush varieties.
You can use either type for containers, but the pole beans will need support or a trellis to climb in. The bush beans are more compact, but the beans require a bit more searching for on the plant. Pole beans will produce all season whereas bush beans tend to ripen close to the same time.
As for soil, your container beans like a high compost content potting soil. When your soil is dry 2 inches down from the surface, it's time to give your green beans a shot of liquid.
Bush variety of green beans make great container plants.
Lettuce, or Lactuca Sativa, is one of the fastest-growing vegetables you can start in a container. Some varieties grow in as little as 3-4 weeks as microgreens. Others, like iceberg lettuce, may take as many as 75 days from germination to harvest.
In general, lettuce needs some protection from the hot summer sun. It's also advisable to grow several varieties at once so that you can constantly be harvesting. As lettuce matures, it has a fairly shallow root structure, so it requires very regular watering. In general, loose-leaf lettuces are much easier to grow in containers than head lettuces are.
Here several varieties of loose-leaf lettuce are grown in the same container.
Peppers, or Capsicum, come in many different varieties for containers. From super hot and spicy chilis to more commonly eaten green peppers, they all will work in container gardening. Peppers like 6-8 hours of sunlight per day, and the more sun you can give them, the higher the yield of peppers. As with all vegetables, they need regular watering.
Peppers are not only delicious but they're beautiful in their pots as well.
Carrots, or, Daucus carota subsp. sativus, is not usually thought of as a container plant because of the need for the carrot to extend down into the soil by several inches for the longer varieties. But with a deep and wide enough pot (minimum of twelve inches deep) it's totally possible. Some common container varieties are Danvers, Nantes, and Chantenay carrots. Each of these types grows a carrot around six inches long.
Carrots are a cooler weather plant, so in the heat of summer, they'll do well with some shade. They also like a nice aerated soil that allows their root structure, the carrot itself, to find its way deep into the pot to ripen. Water them regularly and evenly to prevent the soil from drying out.
A simple plastic tub, if deep enough, works great for growing your container carrots.
Radishes, also known as Raphanus Sativus, are another great container vegetable. They come in many colorful varieties, and it's easy to grow several of them at once. If you sow new seeds every few weeks, then you'll have radishes spread out over your growing season. You might try a black radish, a watermelon radish, an elongated radish, like French breakfast, and a standard round radish, like cherry belle, for your container.
Radishes need a pot at least 6" deep for the round varieties, and if you choose to grow longer varieties like daikons, you'll need a 12" pot. They need 6-8 hours of sun per day, though they will survive with less (though your radishes won't grow as large). They prefer moist, well-drained soil.
Just like radishes, beetroot, or Beta Vulgaris, come in many colorful varieties, and it's easy to grow several of them at once. Spread out your sowing of seeds and you will spread out your yield. Good container varieties to grow in containers are Bull's Blood, Early Wonder, and Detroit Dark Red.
Unlike many other container plants, beets don't like to be moved around. So plant your seeds directly in the container they will mature in for harvest. Be sure and thin your seedlings as they germinate so that your beets will have plenty of room to grow and ripen.
Detroit Dark Red beets have a rich deep red color.
Turnips are another plant that ripens beneath the soil. Brassica rapa subsp. rapa comes in many different varieties, but they are all subspecies of the mustard family. Like radishes and beets, you can sow several varieties together and sow seeds every 1-2 weeks to have a continual harvest through the growing season.
For turnips, it's best to plant in the spring and the fall, as they are not big fans of hot weather. Plant them in containers at least a foot deep, and make sure you keep them evenly watered.
Some fun varieties of turnips to try and grow are Scarlet Queen, Gilfeather, and Golden Egg. These are all bright and colorful varieties. For a standard white variety try White Knight turnips.
10. Squash And Pumpkins
Squash and pumpkins are two of five plants in the Cucurbita family and two common vegetables that are grown for consumption. They are typically vining plants with rather large fruit which doesn't make them the obvious choice for container gardening. But with a large enough container (20-25 gallons) anything is possible.
With pumpkins, there are some smaller varieties like Spooktacular, Baby Bear, Baby Pam, and Small Sugar that produce under 5 pounds of fruit that can be grown in containers. You'll want to remove 2 out of every 3 blossoms to limit the fruit so that your container doesn't get overcrowded. And don't forget to water your pumpkins and squash regularly. They are a thirsty plant.
As for squash, think about bush varieties like Bush Acorn, Black Magic Zucchini, Bushkin Pumpkin, and Bush Crookneck.
Bush Pattypan Squash is another variety you can choose for container growing.
Spinach, like lettuce, is another fast-growing and delicious vegetable for the container garden. Spinach, or Spinacia oleracea, is another cool-weather vegetable that prefers to grow during the spring and the fall. As soon as the leaves are large enough to eat, they are ready to harvest and put into salads, soups, or your morning smoothie.
They are prone to bolt as they get larger, so be sure and keep on top of your harvest as spring days lengthen. Be sure to water regularly and provide them with a good plant nutrition base for optimum length of harvest.
Spinach is another leafy vegetable that comes in a variety of colors for added interest in the garden. Try Flamingo, Bloomsdale, and Red Kitten for an interesting assortment of color and texture.
Peas, or Pisum Sativum, are our final vegetable on the list for container gardening. This easy-to-grow plant is a hit with kids and adults alike, and it doesn't require a whole lot of work on your part.
They do need to be planted earlier in the season because once it gets too hot they'll stop producing. Peas, like beans and tomatoes, will need a bit of support in the form of a pot trellis or bamboo stake teepee to spread their tendrils. You have choices of variety, too. Sugar snap, English peas, and Snow peas will all work well in containers. Why not plant all three?
Peas like full sun and an even watering that doesn't dry out too much between waterings. Here sugar snap peas are produced in abundance as they climb up a well-placed trellis
So there you have it, a list of 12 vegetables you can grow in containers. Which ones surprised you? Which ones will you try? We've been working on a whole series of container gardening posts, so be sure and check out these other posts: