Don’t think you have enough room for an edible garden? Try growing veggies and herbs in containers! There is no such thing as foolproof edibles gardening, but growing vegetables and herbs in containers comes close by reducing the problems posed by space challenges, weather, weeds, and critters.
Another wonderful benefit of container gardening is that you do not need a vast space or in-ground garden patch to tend to. Some of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers are from the nightshade family like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant, as well as fast-growing crops like peas and lettuce.
The Three Rules Of Container Gardening Are
- Select pots with drainage holes.
- Bigger is better, as larger pots hold more soil so dry out less quickly.
- Use potting mix, not garden soil, as potting mixes are lightweight and drain well.
Reasons To Grow Edibles In Containers
Pots are obviously not just for city dwellers – they can also offer a valuable alternative if your soil is too poor to grow in, and can often be much more accessible to growers with physical differences and disabilities.
Space an issue? If you don’t have a large yard and need to grow food in a small footprint … then growing edibles in containers is for you. You can enjoy homegrown food on your patio, deck, balcony or wherever you get enough sun for the vegetables you like and want to grow.
Did You Know … Choose varieties bred to be container-friendly and compact in size. When flipping through seed catalogs or shopping for seedlings at your local nursery, look for descriptions like “bush,” “dwarf” and “patio.”
Growing vegetables in containers is an easy way to enjoy fresh food without the hassles of pulling weeds or tilling the soil. All you need is a suitable pot, good soil, and sun!
10 Edibles To Grow In Containers:
Peas: If kids turn up their noses at peas, it’s because they’ve never had them freshly picked from the garden. With the crunchiness giving way to the sweetness, you’d almost think you were eating fruit! Put tall supports in the container when planting seedlings. Water frequently, and keep them fertilized.
Tomatoes: Like peas, tomatoes need a support system. Use a rod or tomato cage to keep your plants upright. Cherry and roma tomatoes especially do well in containers.
Carrots: Easy to grow and care for carrots are fun to grow. Use a container that’s double the depth your variety will grow. Flower Chick loves the “Little Finger Variety” for bite size, sweet baby carrots.
Radishes: Containers don’t have to be that large for this spring and fall vegetable. Don’t forget—the tops are edible too!
- Eggplant: When planning which variety to buy, know that many eggplants are fairly sensitive to cool temperatures (lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit). They are just as happy in a container as in a garden bed.
- Summer squash: Choose bush varieties rather than the sprawling vine varieties. One plant can fill a 24-inch pot quickly, so don’t crowd your seeds or seedlings. A trellis in the pot will supply support for the fruit and allow air to flow around the plant.
- Leafy greens: Spinach and leaf lettuce are among the many greens that you can snip to eat one day and then snip again a few days later. Grow the cool-season crops in spring or fall. They also tolerate partial shade.
- Peppers:Try traditional bell peppers, or spice it up with hot peppers that are perfect for making homemade salsa. Pepper plants are brittle and do best with some staking or support to prevent branches from breaking.
- Cucumbers: When growing cucumbers in limited space, focus on bush varieties, which grow 2 to 3 feet long. Plant them at the edge of raised beds or grow them up tomato cages.
- Broccoli: Mini and sprouting varieties can be grown in tight quarters to yield plenty of florets. Each plant produces one central “head”, which is actually a cluster of unopened flowers, that should be harvested while the flower buds are still tightly closed.
Did You Know … Squash is an easy vegetable to grow, and squash blossoms are beautiful, delicate edibles.
The Best Vegetables for Containers
Vegetables that are ideally suited for growing in containers include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green onions, beans, lettuce, squash, radishes, parsley and pole beans. And don’t forget herbs!
Here are the minimum soil depths for healthy growth. Keep in mind that you can get by with less depth if you use a self-watering planter.
- 4-5″: chives, lettuce, radishes, other salad greens, basil, coriander
- 6-7″: bush beans, garlic, kohlrabi, onions, Asian greens, peas, mint, thyme
- 8-9″: pole beans, carrots, chard, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, leeks, peppers, spinach, parsley, rosemary
- 10-12″: beets, broccoli, okra, potatoes, sweet corn, summer squash, dill, lemongrass
Plant Combinations and Companion Planting
When combining several different types of plants in one pot, it’s best to match plants that have a similar need for water and fertilizer. For example, rosemary, which likes hot and relatively dry conditions, would not be a good match with water-hungry cucumbers. To maximize space, you might want to combine a trailing plant with an upright plant.
Some container gardens feature plants that help each other to grow better. These plant combos are known as companion garden plants. The thought behind companion plants is that one may have a scent or color that repels or helps disguise its partner from pests. In other cases, a companion garden plant may attract beneficial insects, which eat any problem pests that arrive.
Did You Know … Productive gardening isn’t all about cramming in as many vegetables as you can. If you haven’t got plenty of insect-attracting flowers mixed in too, you’re missing out on one of the most important elements of any garden: nature’s army of pollinators and beneficial insects.
Some plants actually grow better when grown near a compatible companion. On the other hand, some plants don’t seem to grow as well when paired with certain plants. Sometimes the reasons are simple (carrots, dill and fennel are all in the same plant family and will compete for the same nutrients) but others are more mysterious. The list below offers good plant combinations — as well as combinations to avoid …
Combinations To Try:
- Beans, Carrots, and Squash
- Eggplant and Beans
- Tomatoes, Basil, and Onions
- Lettuce and Herbs
- Spinach, Chard, and Onions
- Tomatoes, Basil, and Carrots
- Cucumbers and Lettuce
Combinations to Avoid:
- Beans, Onions, and Garlic
- Carrots with Dill or Fennel
- Tomatoes or Squash with Potatoes
- Onions with Beans and Peas
Why Grow Edibles in Containers?
Just because you live in an apartment or a neighborhood where you cannot have gardens in the ground does not mean you cannot have those lavish tomatoes you have always wanted. You can successfully grow your heart’s desire with container gardening.
If you don’t have a large yard and need to grow food in a small footprint … then growing edibles in containers is for you. You can enjoy homegrown food on your patio, deck, balcony or wherever you get enough sun for the vegetables you like to eat and want to grow.
Dwarf fruit trees grow well in containers too! Read more about the popular varieties … plus fruit tree growing tips here.
Main benefits of these 10 edibles to grow in containers? You’ll save money, eat locally, eat healthier, and shrink your carbon footprint!