Growing food is more than just a fad. It’s how we’ve become as successful as we have as a species.
The human capacity to secure food has allowed us to become the apex species we are today!
It’s no wonder you’re hankering to grow your own veggies, it’s in your DNA!
You were born to garden!
But, our modern living arrangements seem to be a major limiting factor to the capacity to fulfil these agrarian dreams. Small yards and balconies are often all we have to work with.
But, do not despair! Because, as much as we were made to grow them, plants were made to grow. We just need to let them!
Knowing which vegetables will grow well in confined spaces, what soil they need, and how much light they need to thrive are vital first steps to creating a prosperous mini-farm in the middle of the city.
And that’s where we step in.
Let’s take a walk through the pot plants, and see what we can grow.
Vegetables that grow well in containers or pots are characterised by their hardiness, robustness, short harvest time and low maintenance needs.
We’ve broken up our list based on the ways each container veggie grows.
From plants that grow up, plants that grow down and plants that bush out, there’s at least one vegetable that you can successfully grow on this list!
Vegetables that grow up:
These vegetables are noticed by their stems, putting out multiple woody branches and leaves, upon which vegetables grow.
These plants are not only well suited to pots, but their produce is also excessively easy to manage. All you need to do is watch the vegetable as it ripens and then pick it off when it has ripened to your satisfaction.
You will need to protect your vegetables from other spying animal eyes though, and perhaps devise plans to remove container raiders.
Tomatoes are a very rewarding, hardy vegetable to have in your garden.
Due to their trailing, bushy nature, they will need some support to stop the heavy growing tomatoes from breaking the stems they are growing on.
Tomato cages, trellises or stakes in the ground will give your tomatoes the structures necessary for healthy growth. Remember that the larger the tomato variety, the bigger the pot it will need to sustain its growth.
Rosa or cherry tomatoes are especially good for small gardens as their growth is compact, they are quick to ripen and are visually very appealing!
Chilis & Sweet peppers
Chilis and Sweet Peppers are in the same family of plants and have very similar care needs. While these vegetables thrive in potted conditions, they will require warmth and plenty of sunshine to grow effectively.
Correct watering is also vital for the success of your Pepper plants. While they do not tolerate underwatering as well as other vegetables, waterlogged soil will simply destroy them!
Give these colourful vegetables the care they require and you can expect harvests off of them for seasons to come.
When planting eggplants, plant them in deep pots that retain moisture evenly. Alongside this, try to find varietals that are compact and lighter than your average store-bought eggplant.
Cultivars like Fairytale and Hansel grow well, are pretty to look at and will not break their stems because of their weight.
Vegetables that grow down:
Roots and tubers grow very well in containers or pots, given that you plant them with enough space to form and mature completely under the ground.
Giving these vegetables large, deep pots will allow them the space they need to grow well. It is a waiting game though and can be somewhat anxiety-producing at times. But, the treasure trove that awaits you when you do dig up these vegetables is astounding!
Plant your root vegetables early in the growing season, to give them the greatest chance of maturing.
Growing potatoes in pots is the easiest and most satisfying way to grow potatoes. A well-draining, deep pot is your go-to for potato planting. Potatoes are prone to fungus and blight, so keeping the soil moist but not soggy is a necessity. If you can find a pot specific for growing potatoes, by all means, use it!
You will need to keep covering the plant with soil as it grows, which can up the price of growing potatoes. But, a fresh potato plucked out the ground is outstanding, and worth the effort.
Onions are a kitchen stable, and as such are a worthy undertaking in your garden.
While brown, red and green onions might be a little too clunky in pots to ensure a viable harvest, there are varieties that have compact growth and are much easier to get a good yield from.
Species like the Tokyo Long White and the White Lisbon (cultivars of your humble spring onion) grow in long, compact stalks and will allow you a much larger harvest.
These species also grow much faster than their larger, bulbar cousins, and are quite lovely to watch grow.
Radishes are happy to grow in even the smallest pot and are able to thrive in less than ideal lighting conditions.
They are a crowd favourite for small gardens, and cultivars like the Cherry Bell grow in shade or sun. What’s more, these delicious little vegetables will be ready to harvest in three weeks!
Vegetables that bush out:
Bring on the leaves!
Leafy vegetables have shallow root systems, making them ideal for long, shallow, rectangular pots, commonly found on window sills and balconies.
These vegetables also grow quickly and have the potential to give you multiple harvests, making them highly rewarding vegetables to grow in your confined space.
The undisputed patio garden hero!
Lettuce is best grown in spring or early summer. If you want to ensure a full season harvest, it’s best to keep your lettuce out of the direct sun. Giving your lettuce a shallow, wide pot and dappled light will have you snacking on greens all summer long.
And let’s not forget about the variety!
Lettuce is an umbrella term for a host of exciting and tasty leafy vegetables. Plant a mix of these in your pots for variety, flavour combinations and aesthetics. It will also mean that you can snack on one type of lettuce while you let another recover from harvesting.
Arugula, Cos, Romaine and Butter lettuce are all excellent choices for your potted vegetable garden.
Like all other leafy greens, Spinach grows well in shallow pots placed in semi-shade.
When choosing your shallow pot, make sure it’s quite wide. Your spinach will want to grow outwards and will get bushier over time. Choose baby spinach cultivars to get the sweetest and most crisp Spinach leaves possible.
What soil should you use?
All the love in the world cannot save a plant that is planted in bad soil.
For your pots, it is best to choose a well-aerated potting mix from a reputable nursery. These potting mixes are made of peat moss, compost and bark chips for nutrition, as well as vermiculite or perlite for aeration.
They are generally sterile and free of weeds of harmful fungi.
Why not just dig up some soil and go for it though?
The answer is complex but starts with how easily garden soil compacts when it’s placed in a pot. This compaction will make your soil soggy and waterlogged, even when it appears dry on the surface.
Waterlogged soil is fatal to all vegetables, and should be avoided at all costs.
Next is the issue of pests. When you dig up the soil, you are digging up all the microorganisms that go with it. And, while a healthy soil microbiome is great, pests will kill your plants before they have time to make any vegetables at all!
Filling your pots:
Start by layering drainage stones in the bottom of your pot. These will assist in drainage and aeration of your soil, mimic a natural environment and save you money on the soil by taking up space.
Next, fill your pot with soil. If you are using seedlings, measure the depth of your seedlings in the pot before filling it, to ensure you have enough space to cover the seedlings’ roots completely.
If you are planting from seed, fill your pot to your required depth, poke holes into the top of the soil (with a good distance between them) and plant away!
Once you’ve planted your seedlings or your seeds, give your pots a really thorough watering. It is better to water plants early in the morning or later in the afternoon, to avoid the scorching heat of the day evaporating the moisture from the soil as it lands.
Go forth and Garden
Having a small outside space should not be what holds back your vegetable garden dreams.
The secret to success is knowing the types of pots to buy, the types of soil to fill them with, and the types of vegetable plants to grow inside them.
Whether they grow up, down or out, there’s a vegetable that you can grow today.
Contact Andy if you want a landscaper to design your vegetable garden.
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