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  • W. H. Perron

The Best Vegetables to Grow in Containers


Grow your own food without a vegetable garden! You can harvest significant crops by growing vegetables in containers. It’s the perfect choice for balcony and patio gardens, small gardens with limited space or rented homes where you can’t dig over the garden beds.

Here are our top 12 vegetables to try in containers. You’ll be amazed how much food you can harvest from such a small space!

Beetroot

These are great container crops. To avoid an excess, sow a few seeds every couple of weeks and you’ll be harvesting them all through summer.

Soak the seeds in warm water for a few hours before sowing to speed up germination.

Popular varieties are Soldier, Red Ace, Touchstone Gold or Avalanche.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are very easy to grow in containers. You can also grow them vertically to maximize the space that you have available. Just let them vine up your deck railing or even the side of your house. Be sure to allow plenty of space for the vines and harvest regularly once they begin producing so that they don’t weigh the vines down and weaken them.

Tomatoes

Grow tomatoes in pots, grow bags and even hanging baskets! Bush or trailing varieties are best for containers.

Keep evenly watered to prevent the fruit from splitting and feed with a high-potash tomato fertilizer for even more tomatoes.

Radishes

Crispy, peppery radishes are great in salads and a good crop for beginner vegetables gardeners. They are trouble-free and ready to harvest in as little as a month.

Sow little and often for a continuous supply and water well.

Popular varieties are Poker, Early Scarlet Globe, Rover or Easter Egg.

Mesclum and leaf lettuce

These are the ultimate container crops. Try sowing a mix for a range of textures and flavours – there are loads to choose from.

Leaf lettuce are a cut and come again crop, meaning they keep growing as long as you keep harvesting the leaves. It couldn’t be easier.

Popular leaf lettuce varieties are New Red Fire, Grand Rapids, Eazyleaf Jeanine or Bergam's Green.

Popular Mesclum varieties are Mesclum Mix or the SimplySalad selection.

Potatoes

Many people think potato plants need room to grow, but what they actually need is deep soil. They will grow in long containers like barrels or plastic dustbins.

Try earlier varieties which will be harvested early in the season. Put up to three tubers in a 40L capacity container and earth up the soil around the plant as it grows.

Popular varieties are Chaleur, Yukon Gold or Norland.

Swiss chard

Swiss Chard is a stunning leafy green that is related to spinach and beetroot. It’s becoming more popular in the kitchen and its colourful stems make it a really attractive crop too – it even comes in rainbow varieties!

Sow seeds from late spring to summer but remember to thin out the seedlings to the distance on the packet.

Popular varieties are Silverado, Peppermint, Bali or Celebration.

Lettuce

Grow your own fresh salads with lettuce plants. Sow one or two at intervals so they don’t all mature at the same time.

You need rich soil that is kept really moist for lettuces to grow well. Water in the morning rather than the evening, and cut the head when the firm heart has formed.

There is a huge variety of different types of lettuce out there. Pick according to taste and growing season (spring/summer/autumn).

Butter head Lettuce produces a round head with a soft leaf. Popular varieties are Rhapsody, Buttercrunch or Edox.

Iceberg or Crisp head Lettuce produces a round, firm head with crispy leaves. Popular varietie PYB 7101.

Romaine Lettuce produces an oblong head with slightly crispy leaves. Famous varieties are Starhawk, Pomegranate Crunch or Paris Island.

Carrots

Like potatoes, carrots need deep soil to grow well, chose the short-rooted varieties that do well in containers.

Sow thinly (2-3cm apart) and water during dry periods. Be careful not to bruise or crush the foliage as the smell may attract the root-ruining pest, carrot fly.

Popular varieties are Altas, Little finger, Caracas, Navarino, Napoli or Nantes.

Hot peppers

More and more people are growing hot pepper plants because they have so many uses in the kitchen.

Chilli plants grow best under glass, in a greenhouse or on a windowsill, but they can survive outdoors in a warm, sheltered spot with strong sunlight. The warmer the conditions are, the spicier the chilies!

Popular varieties are Apache, Cayenetta, Early Jalapino, Loco, Time Bomb, Cheyenne or Basket of fire.

Shallot, onion and bunching onion

Shallot, onion and bunching onion are a great crop for containers because they don’t need deep soil. They are also extremely easy to grow.

Sow a few every couple of weeks from may until july for a long supply. Keep watered in dry weather.

Popular varieties are Picador (french shallot), Parade or Red Baron (bunching onion).

Spinach

Spinach is a great cut and come again crop for containers, and full of leafy green goodness. Fill a container with rich compost and put the spinach seedlings in a spot with light shade – too much hot sunlight will lead to bolting.

Water copiously in dry weather to prevent the spinach leaves from tasting bitter.

Popular varieties are Stanton or New Zealand.

Herbs

Kitchen herbs are the easiest edible plants to grow and deserve a spot on any container gardening list. Try thyme, chives, mint, sage, parsley, oregano and rosemary outdoors, and basil and coriander on the kitchen windowsill.

Always choose herbs you love to cook with and keep them by the kitchen or back door so you remember to use them.


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