One of the questions most frequently asked by people when they first set out growing vegetables in containers, is which vegetables are most suitable?
The simplest answer is; virtually any type of vegetable or herb should fair well in a container as long as it has enough room. There are also ‘mini’ varieties of vegetables that have been specifically bred to do well in small spaces and look attractive.
Personally, even though I am gardening from a small patio area, I prefer to go for the full-size vegetables. They may be less aesthetically pleasing, but they will ultimately provide larger quantities of food than the mini versions.
My Tiny Patio at the start of this project….
For those of us growing vegetables in containers, below is a list of plants that will do particularly well in pots as long as they are given the right care.
The list below is constantly being added-to, as I write more detailed articles on each type. I hope they help with your container garden ideas.
Plants that grow well in containers are:
Often the first choice of most people when growing vegetables in containers, and one of the most popular growing fruits in the world.
You can also grow tomatoes upside down for more fun and a slightly higher yield.
Good soil, and getting the watering just right is the key to success.
Some people claim they have problems growing tomatoes, but this comprehensive article will put a permanent end to the low-yield blues! Click here for my page on growing Tomatoes. Also see my article titled: Five Great Tomato Growing Tips.
A great candidate for growing vegetables in containers. You can get a surprisingly large yield by growing them in tubs or even plastic bags (I use rubble bags and old (large) compost bags)
First early varieties are the best.
Click here for my page on growing Potatoes.
Surprisingly easy to grow and you can enjoy large yields in the right growing conditions, but don’t plant them out until early summer – they don’t like the cold!
Click here for my page on growing Cucumbers
Green Beans / Runner Beans
Expensive to buy in the supermarkets, cheap to grow! They drink water like it’s going out of fashion, but with the right soil, and some well-positioned canes, the results can be fabulous!
There are plenty of high-yielding varieties out there nowadays that will provide you with pounds and pounds of food as long as you stick to some simple rules which I have covered in a couple of different green-bean-growing articles. here and here.
Sugar buns and quikie varieties fair well in pots. They taste fantastic. Containers need to be deep. Personally I would only choose sweet corn If I had ample room to spare. They require full sun and a fair amount of your premium growing space for what will be a relatively small yield. There are many other higher yielding vegetables that will produce much more food per square foot in your premium growing areas than sweet corn.
Require full or partial sun, ideal for those areas of the garden that spend some of the time in shade. Some hybrid versions can be ready in as little as 30 days, plus you can cook the leaves as greens. Ideal candidates for the square foot gardening method, as are carrots (below).
Growing carrots is a very simple and straightforward process, But there are a couple of things you need to know. they do particularly well in containers, but they are also usually extremely cheap to buy. something worth bearing in mind when growing vegetables in containers if your space is limited and you could use the valuable space to grow more expensive vegetables instead.
Fabulously healthy berries high in antioxidants but need warm summers to ripen. They also require acid or ‘ericaceous’ soil and rain water (not tap water). Pine needles from a forest will help condition your soil. Click here for my page on growing blueberries.
Easy to grow. Can be grown from seed, or saved from a regular onion root section that you remove when cooking.
No-one growing vegetables in containers should be without at least one crop of these! Natures greatest desert! They need good quality compost – well-drained. Sacrificing the first years crop will bring strong abundant yields in the subsequent years. Use tomato feed and never let them dry out. Click here for my page on How to grow strawberries. Also, Click here for my page on growing strawberries from seeds.
Very popular grown in pots and window boxes. Slow germination time – requires heat, so use your airing cupboard! Also requires a rich soil.
Just like parsley, this is another herb that is popular grown in pots and window boxes. It hates the cold and frost will kill it off. Takes a couple of weeks to germinate from seed. Click here for my page on growing Basil.
Possibly one of the easiest and most fun vegetables to grow, on the planet. A great way to get the kids hooked on the wonderful hobby of growing vegetables in containers.
They like a firm bed and partial shade. Acid soil encourages club root and limits growth, so add lime when preparing the pot for transplanting.
When growing vegetables in containers, Lettuce is an excellent choice. Easy to grow. They prefer shade in the summer and a well-drained soil. Watering should be in the morning. Do not overcrowd and watch out for the aphids. Ideal candidates for the square foot gardening method.
Click here for my page on growing Lettuce.
Does well with well manured soil, but be careful not to over-water or over-feed.
Zucchini (or Courgette)
Part of the squash family. Fast-growing. Creates a large bushy spreading plant and big fruits. prefer warm soil (above 60 degrees F) Some support may be required for the resulting fruit if grown in a container.
If you are interested in making your own beer, then growing hops is perfectly ‘doable’ in containers. They are surprisingly easy to grow and as long as you give them the right light and food, they’ll see you proud.
Growing Peanuts in pots is also perfectly ‘doable’ and you can sprout the seeds from shop-brought peanut kernels!
Growing grapes does require a little prep work, but with the sweet fruit and the glorious colours of the leaves, its rewards are great. It’s also perfectly ‘doable’ to grow these in containers.
Plants that are NOT particularly well suited when growing vegetables in containers are:
Asparagus needs a lot of space and is not well suited to a small garden, especially if you intend to grow other food as well. If you do have the space, it is best grown in raised beds or direct the ground if your soil is good, but growing asparagus is not a particularly quick or easy task and you can be looking at 3 years preparation time before getting your first crop. However, Asparagus is a perennial plant so once established, it can go on producing food for as much as 20 years.
Click here for my full page on growing Asparagus, or click here for my brief summary page on how to grow asparagus.
Firstly, let there be no illusion, growing pumpkins requires space – a LOT of space! Even the smaller varieties can produce vines of significant length; therefore growing pumpkins is not a well suited task to a small garden.
Click here for my page on Pumpkin growing.
Also, if you do regularly use pumpkin, be sure to check out my Roasting Pumpkin Seeds page as well as taking a look at my the ‘Cinnasweet’ pumpkin seed recipe, and yet another article on How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds.
Rhubarb is quite possibly one of the simplest things in the world to grow, but it is a large spreading plant and definitely does not enjoy being couped up on a pot. Click here for my page on growing rhubarb.
Despite providing a food, Pomegranates grow on a large tree-like shrub which prefers a semi-desert, continental climate and lots of space.
Although the decorative scarlet flowers may bloom, it’s unlikely to bear any significant fruit if it’s grown in a pot, and needs to grow in the ground in order to be happy. Click here for my page on growing Pomegranates.
Fast Growing Trees
Some fast growing trees can provide food and herbal medicines such as the orange, willow, plum, hazelnut or Ginkgo, but if you do have enough space for a tree, I can’t stress enough the importance of choosing the right type….
There are plenty of other types of foods to consider when growing vegetables in containers that have not yet been listed here. As I said, this is a dynamic page and is constantly growing as I update, so be sure to check back often.