What to Put in the Container
When planning your container-garden layout, make a note of which vegetables can be planted early and which will do well later in the season; make sure the size of container will work for both types. A good rule to remember when growing vegetables in containers: When you take a plant out of your container, put another vegetable in its place. This way you will have a continuous supply of wonderful vegetables to harvest and enjoy.
The following are suitable vegetables to grow in containers:
To grow lettuce, spinach, salad greens, radishes, and green onions, you need a container approximately 8 to 10 inches wide and at least 6 inches deep. In this size container you could grow two or three of your leafy greens and up to a dozen radishes or green onions. For growing carrots, beets, peas, and beans—just remember your peas and beans will produce a better harvest if they are grown on a trellis or supported in some way—the best size container is approximately 12 to 16 inches wide and at least 10 inches deep. If you choose a rectangular container, you could make great use of the space by growing your peas and beans in the back and planting your root crops in front of them.
Larger vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbages, broccoli, peppers, potatoes, or dwarf corn, need a container at least 16 inches wide and with at least 18 inches of soil to grow well. For best results, use transplants when growing these vegetables (except for potatoes and corn). Grow only one of these plants in each container. To fill up the pot and make it look more attractive, plant lettuce or herbs around the base of the larger plant.
There are some plants, such as mint, comfrey, and borage, that you may like to have in your garden. However, these plants can quickly become invasive, so plant them into a pot and sink the pot into the ground. Keep the rim of the pot a few inches above ground level.
Consider the following tips in order to create a successful container garden.
Choose Dwarf Varieties
When choosing to grow in containers, look for dwarf varieties. These are vegetable plants that are smaller in size and therefore need less space to grow. Usually the root system needs less space as well, making these vegetables a great option for containers. There are many more dwarf varieties becoming available as the importance of growing some of your own food is becoming fashionable, and, for some, a necessity, especially those living in cities where space is limited. Check seed catalogs—often available for free at garden centers in your area.
If you want to grow a lot of vegetables on your balcony or patio, emphasize your vertical space by using trellises or fences. Grow vegetables that can be trained to grow upright such as snow peas, shelling peas, pole beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Choose attractive materials like bamboo, metal, or wood to make trellises or stakes for your plants.
Grow Early and Late Veggies in the Same Pot
Some vegetable plants grow better in the cool of spring or fall, whereas others are best planted when the weather is warmer. Vegetables will mature and be harvested at different times of the year, depending on how long they take to grow to maturity and how long they take to form ripe fruit or pods for you to eat. To make the most of your container: plant a crop of early maturing veggies such as radishes or baby salad greens in the early spring; then after they have been harvested, take out the old plants, add a little more soil mix, and plant your tomatoes or peppers with a few herbs like basil and parsley around them.