The fact is, you don’t need a large space or garden to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Many think that an extensive garden is required to grow herbs, vegetables, and produce, but all you really need are some large pots and decent sun exposure to keep your container garden growing.
There are so many vegetables that grow in containers, from pots on your patio to window boxes outside your kitchen window. Even if your outside space is sleek, you can still grow something in a container garden.
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Some of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers are nightshades like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant, and fast-growing plants like peas and lettuce. Of course, there is no such thing as a foolproof vegetable garden, but the containerized vegetable garden comes close by reducing the threats of bad weather, pests and hungry animals.
Growing vegetables in containers is an easy way to enjoy fresh food without removing weeds or tilling the soil. All you need is a pot, good soil and sun!
Read on for eight fruits and vegetables to start with for an easy DIY container garden. You will really be amazed at what you can grow in a small space!
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First on the list: culinary herbs. Kitchen herbs are the easiest edible plants to grow and deserve a spot on every container garden list. For the novice gardener, planting fresh herbs is a great way to test your green thumb. Unlike succulents or shrubs, the success of these plants is particularly gratifying as they also work wonders in enhancing your cooking game.
Try thyme, chives, mint, sage, parsley, oregano, and rosemary outdoors, and basil and coriander on the kitchen window sill. Check out this post for more information on planting herbs and amazing recipes you can make with each one!
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Growing tomatoes in containers is easy and incredibly satisfying. You can grow tomatoes in pots, grow bags, and even hang baskets, but most tomatoes are happiest even in large containers and need to be staked out or put in a tomato cage (this extra support prevents the heavy fruits from bending and breaking the vines ).
Tips for planting tomatoes:
- When buying tomato seedlings, look for short, stocky plants that have not yet flowered.
- Tomatoes don’t like the cold, so don’t expose them too soon. If you are planting outdoors, be sure to harden the seedlings or gradually accustom them to outdoor life before planting them.
- When planting tomato seedlings, plant them deep – much deeper than most plants. They thrive in deep, moist soils with good drainage. Stick to one plant per pot.
- Keep dogs and cats away from this plant as the leaves are poisonous if ingested by pets.
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Did you know that freshly picked potatoes taste very different from the potatoes you would buy in a grocery store? They have a higher water content and a bitter, earthy taste that goes so well with other fresh spring ingredients. Many people think potato plants need a lot of space to grow, but what they actually need is deep soil. They grow well in long containers like barrels or plastic trash cans. Although growing potatoes requires a lot of soil and water, it’s worth taking your delicious spring and summer recipes to the next level.
Tips for planting potatoes:
- Potatoes are productive when there is enough space for tubers to develop. Bury seed potatoes in an 8-inch layer of soil at the bottom of the pot, 6-inches apart.
- As the plants grow, pile more soil up to the top of the leaves.
- I recommend trying small to medium-sized potatoes first – any blue, red, Pontiac, or Yukon gold potato is a safe choice for beginners.
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Zucchini (also called summer squash) is a great vegetable for gardeners in a small space. It’s almost guaranteed to grow, produce tons of vegetables all summer, and come in many fun shapes and colors. Grow compact varieties like Gold Rush Yellow Zucchini, Spacemiser Green Zucchini, or Sunburst Scallopini Zucchini.
Tips for planting summer squash:
- Plant one plant per 15 gallon pot or two plants in pots 20 inches or more in diameter.
- The ideal growing conditions include plenty of light (preferably full sun), good, rich soil, and even watering and feeding.
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Growing lettuce and other lettuce in containers is quick and perfect for small spaces, and you can even create your own vertical lettuce garden that looks so nice on a patio. If you’re a big salad eater, you’ll love growing your own fresh salad and conjuring up delicious recipes all summer long. There are some great lettuce and mesclun mixes you can buy for container gardens that taste great and look great in decorative pots.
Tips for planting lettuce:
- Sow a seed or two at intervals in a pot less than an inch deep so they don’t all ripen at the same time.
- You need rich soil that is kept very moist for the salads to grow well. Lettuce doesn’t need as much sunlight as other vegetables. So find a place with a few hours of sun a day – preferably in the morning, as the afternoon sun can scorch the plants, depending on how hot it gets in your area.
- Water in the morning, not in the evening, and cut the head when the solid heart is formed.
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Crispy, peppery radishes are great for salads and are a good crop for the beginner vegetable gardener. They’re trouble-free and grow ridiculously fast – most go from seed to harvest in just a month. They don’t take up a lot of space either – they can grow in containers 4 to 6 inches deep, making them perfect for someone who lives in an apartment. There are many varieties, which means you can choose your seeds based on their appearance and taste. I think radishes are so beautiful – a fresh and immediate decor boost for your kitchen! The tips of the radish greens are just as edible as the pods.
Tips for planting radish:
- Sow seeds about 1 cm deep and at least 1 cm apart. Do this little and often between March and August to ensure a continuous supply of radishes.
- Keep cool and water well. These plants don’t like getting too hot, but you can easily control this by placing the plant in the shade or adding water to cool it down.
- Harvest after about a month before they mature and become woody.
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Bell peppers can be spectacularly beautiful, especially orange and purple bell peppers in containers. Perfect for adding a sweet or fiery kick to a wide variety of dishes. Both hot and sweet peppers thrive in grow boxes, but can be grown in any large container with plenty of sun, good drainage, and even watering. Dry soil or excessively moist soil are disastrous for peppers. And the warmer the conditions, the spicier the chilies are!
Tips for planting pepper:
- Planting peppers in containers requires a pot that is at least 10-12 inches deep and wide with adequate drainage holes. You can grow up to 2-3 plants (smaller varieties) per container or one larger plant per container.
- Paprika loves the sun. The most productive pepper plants grow in warmth and heat. So keep them in a place where they can get at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. Make sure they are protected from strong winds.
- Good soil is the key to productive pepper plants. Buy the best potting soil that is well-drained, loose, and fertile, or make your own potting soil.
- Growing peppers need regular watering to keep the soil slightly moist, and the soil should never dry out completely. Water at the base of the plant. In addition, pepper plants suffer from overhydration. Therefore, make sure that your plants are not sitting in the water.
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Cucumbers are a fast growing vegetable that is commonly grown in containers. These water-loving plants work best in large plastic or ceramic pots that help the soil retain moisture. Growing cucumbers in containers is a great way to give them the warmth they love and need to thrive. There are two main types of cucumber: bush and wine. Either can grow in a container. Bush cucumbers tend to be shorter with lower yields. The fruits, six to eight inches long, have smooth, tender skin and sweet, crispy flesh. A grid or tomato cage is required for grapevine pickles.
Tips for planting cucumbers:
- Plant one plant per 12 inch pot or 2 plants in a larger container that is at least 18 inches in diameter.
- For larger planters, grow plants 8 to 10 inches in end spacing.
- They need warmth and do best in a location with full sun to partial shade in the afternoon.
- Grow in a well-drained pot filled with moist, fertilized soil.
This post was originally published on May 27, 2020 and has been updated since then.