Best Vegetables to Grow in Containers
Utilizing containers for growing vegetables generally means you are short on space or don’t have a suitable space to grow conventionally and are looking for a way to grow as much as you can in what space you do have available.
It makes perfect sense to grow as much as you can so that you can reap all the benefits of home grown vegetables; the superb taste, the convenience, the cost savings etc. and most of all reducing the amount of toxic pesticides in your diet.
Working with limited space means you have to make smart choices when it comes to what you will actually grow.
The best things to grow are things that produce over a long period of time. As an example you will be able to harvest indeterminate tomatoes for weeks. In the greenery department things that produce over a long period may be referred to as “cut and come again.” You are harvesting only part of the plant at a time while it keeps on growing and producing more. In many cases this actually encourages the plant to produce more. With things like spinach or kale you are just harvesting the outside leaves each time rather than harvesting the whole plant. Spinach and Kale will resprout though if you do cut off the whole plant about 2-3’’ above the ground level but I prefer to use them leaf by leaf. You can start using things like lettuce and spinach when they are quite small.
Sometimes when things get to the end of their production and start to go to seed you can cut them off and they will come away at the bottom and give you a few more shoots to use but generally once they start to go to seed that is what they want to keep doing.
Things like cauliflower are just one offs rather than broccoli that will keep on sprouting smaller heads over quite a period of time once you have harvested the main head. To me broccoli is a better choice if space is short.
Growing faster maturing vegetables makes good use of space as it means less time occupying a container while you are waiting to be able to start harvesting. Things like spinach or kale where you aren’t waiting for a head or heart to form are good.
Generally smaller varieties are recommended for container growing, you will often find “suitable for containers/ patios” or whatever written on the seed packets or plant labels. It really depends on the size of your container; if your container is big enough you can grow larger varieties.
Climbing plants or plants that can be trained to grow up are great to grow in containers because you are making use of otherwise wasted vertical space. Beans and Zucchini or Summer Squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers are all great to grow vertically. Bear in mind that they do need to be given supports of some sort to grow up. If they are left to their own devices without training up they will probably still produce but can become quite unruly and take up a lot of space if it is at a premium.
Different plants grow in different seasons unless you are lucky enough to grow things year round in your climate.
It doesn’t matter if a plant is suitable for containers or not if it is grown in the wrong season or in an unsuitable climate it isn’t going to produce for you! Generally there are warm season crops and cool season crops but it all depends on your actual climate. Seed packets and plant labels have valuable information to help you make the right choice.
I have put together a simple method to help anyone get started growing their own vegetables in containers.