Best Vegetables for Container Gardening at Home
Container gardening is an excellent way to produce safe and quality food in space-limited and deteriorated soil health conditions. Production of vegetables in the containers is an ideal way to minimize the problems associated with biotic and abiotic stresses. The concept of urban agriculture is being promoted throughout the globe as people are more concerned about the safety and quality of foods. Containers can be easily placed in the windowsills, balconies, rooftops, and terraces for growing vegetables. Therefore, this article is mainly focused to provide a basic understanding of the best vegetables to grow in containers.
The minimum requirement of container depth to grow tomatoes is about 12 inches, but some variation is possible according to the type of variety. Tomatoes are one of the most commonly grown vegetables in containers as they can grow, develop, and reproduce well in the containers. Growers can easily produce 10 pounds of tomatoes grown in the containers by providing optimal growing conditions.
Tomatoes require good sunlight for growth and development and therefore containers must be placed on a sunny windowsill or roof terrace. As these plants grow well in sunny conditions, growers must be careful about watering and should not let the soil/grow media get dry.
Tomatoes grow best in well-aerated, moisture-retaining, well-drained, organic matter-containing, fertile and sandy loam soil. Growers should maintain the acidic pH level of the soil between 6-6.8 and must add the recommended dose of potassium and phosphorus in the container soil to get maximum and good quality products.
Containers should have a minimum of about 6 inches depth to grow spinach. Spinach can grow well in partial shade and thus growers can place containers anywhere near the windowsills, balconies, or terraces. Spinach has shallow roots and therefore there are no specific requirements for using deep containers. However, growers should select a wide container to allow plant growth in all directions.
The best soil for spinach would be for the soil to have a neutral pH. The addition of very acidic and very basic substances should be avoided. Although spinach does not belong to the category of heavy feeder plants, the addition of organic matter and potting mix can greatly improve its yield and quality. Moreover, spinich is not susceptible to pests and diseases, so it requires minimal care and management.
When growing beans in containers, containers or pots should have at least 12 inches of minimum depth to support the rooting structure and growth of beans. These plants produce attractive foliage and beautiful flowers and can beautify growing spaces while providing food at the same time.
There are two major kinds of growth habits of beans. They are bushy and climbing beans and growers can select the desirable variety according to their available spaces and growing conditions. Bushy beans do not require any additional support but climbing beans need support in the form of trellis or poles.
Beans belong to the category of nitrogen-fixing plants and therefore there is no requirement of adding more nitrogenous fertilizers. However, growers should test their soil to get an idea about the fertilizer requirements of the soil being used in the containers.
Squash plants are very easy to grow in summer and growers can obtain plentiful produce by optimal management and the right care. Containers can be placed in patios, balconies, rooftops, and terraces. The best production of squash can be obtained in fertile and sandy soil with a pH range between 6-6.5.
Growers must remove all trash and rocks from the soil that is to be used in the container. A good portion of organic matter should be mixed in the top 8-12 inches of the soil. Squash plants need full sunlight to grow and therefore containers must be placed in the place where plants can get at least six hours of sunlight per day.
Growing eggplants in the containers is pretty easy but these plants are more prone to garden pests and insects. Eggplants need high temperature and good sunlight both at day and night time and therefore can be ideally grown in the summer. People living in warmer climates can grow eggplants all year round in containers.
Eggplants can grow best in the soil having a pH between 5.5-7.2. The use of sandy loam, fertile, and well-drained soil is an ideal choice to support the maximum growth and development of eggplants. However, these are heavy feeder plants and require a good dose of organic and inorganic fertilizers. Use of organic fertilizers is a more eco-friendly, healthy, and sustainable choice.
Cucumber plants are heavy feeders and therefore their production in containers requires more management and care. Cucumber plants can be easily grown in medium to larger size containers but these containers must be placed in full sun conditions. The best growth of cucumbers can be obtained by using well-drained, loose, and sandy loam soil in the containers.
The depth of containers should be adequate to support their good growth and establishment. Gravel, debris, rocks, and weeds must be removed from the soil to eliminate the chances of hindrances for rooting development.
Carrots are cool-season vegetables and grow well in moist soil. Growers must water plants regularly as under irrigation or over-irrigation can cause problems. Carrots can be easily grown in containers as there are no requirements for more space. Use of good quality sandy, and loamy soil and compost application is an ideal choice to grow carrots in containers as carrots grow in the downward direction. If there is the formation of a hardpan or crust in the container soil it can negatively affect the carrot growth and production.
Carrots need full sunlight so the containers should be placed at balconies, or terraces where carrots can receive good lighting. Placement of containers in partial shade or full shade conditions should be avoided as the absence of sunlight can affect color and taste development.
Pea plants require moderate climatic conditions and can be ideally grown in the containers as their growth does not require deep containers. Pea plants do not require too much care and attention and the containers can be easily placed in the balconies or patios.
The selection of bushy or dwarf varieties is essentially important for container gardening. However, growers must place the containers in full sun conditions. While it is important to carefully schedule the irrigation intervals so that plants can be protected from the stresses associated with overirrigation and under irrigation.
Asian greens can be easily grown in containers as these plants do not require full sunny conditions. Growers must place the containers at a location where growing plants can receive sunlight. Containers must be placed at sunny spots in the early morning and dusky conditions. The container should be kept moist and organic fertilizers should be added to improve the quality and health of the soil in the container.
Radishes have quick-growing nature and can be easily grown in containers. These containers can have less depth but should be wider to allow their growth in all dimensions. It is important to maintain 3-4 inches of space among individual plants for better growth and development.
Radishes grow well by proper exposure to sunlight for at least six hours a day but have good potential to tolerate shade to some extent. The best growth of radishes can be observed in the deep, well-drained, fertile, and organic matter containing sandy soils. Growers can also amend the heavy soils by the addition of composting and grow mix if light sandy soil is not available in the surroundings.
Chilies and Peppers
Both chilies and peppers are easy to manage and super productive plants for home gardening and can easily grow well in containers. These plants survive well in warm, and sunny places so the placement of these containers in shaded conditions should be avoided. The container must have at least 12 inches of depth to support the growth of chilies and peppers.
Chilies and peppers grow well in well-drained, fertile, and optimal moisture-retaining soils. However, the addition of manure and compost is essentially important to improve the overall structure, fertility, and production potential of the soil being used in the container.
Lettuce plants have quick-growing nature and growers can harvest leafy green and good quality products many times throughout the year. Lettuce is a cool-season crop and grows well in cooler temperatures. The selection of a wide container than the deeper one helps to support the excellent support of lettuce plants. A space of about four inches should be maintained among the individual plants to support better growth and development.
Potatoes can easily grow well in containers, but their growth requires a lot of soil for mounding. Container growing offers the easiest mounding and growers can get the best production followed by optimal care and management. Potatoes require full sunny conditions so the placement of containers in the partial or fully shaded conditions should be avoided.
Potatoes need nutrient-rich soil and well-drained conditions for better growth and production. Growing potatoes in containers reduce the chances of disease development and fungal attacks. The use of larger containers is essentially important to ensure good drainage so growers should be careful about the selection of containers. Containers must be placed at a location where growing plants can receive about six to eight hours of sunlight.
Swiss Chard and Beetroots
Swiss chard and beetroots are from the same family of plants but one of them is grown from the roots and the other is grown from the leaves. Both these plants can be easily grown in the containers by the addition of compost only. The seeds of beetroots are clusters of four or five seeds so multiple plants can be produced by sowing only one seed.
Beetroots should be grown in smaller containers as their growth in the larger containers can cause an unpleasant and woody taste. Chard is a very productive plant and can produce good quality and nutritional dense leaves. Growers must provide good space among individual plants and only one plant should be grown in the five-liter container.
Kale is a nutritional-rich vegetable and is a well-known plant to survive extreme cold and winter temperatures. There are different varieties of growing kale in the containers and pots and growers can select the best possible according to growing conditions and personal preferences. Kale responds well to added manure and compost, so the use of organic fertilizers and quality compost is greatly recommended.
Kale should be planted at least 6 inches deep and 6 inches apart to allow good rooting development and plant growth. Immediate watering is required after plantation followed by light irrigation two to three times a week. Kale is an annual plant and requires partial sunny conditions so the direct placement of containers in the intense heat and sunlight should be avoided.
Broccoli is a good vegetable for container gardening and is a cold-hardy plant so it must be immediately planted after the frost. It can be grown in 5-gallon sized container and should be planted at least 12 inches apart and six to eight inches deep. Broccoli is an annual plant and requires partial sunny conditions so containers should not be placed in high-temperature places and full sunny conditions.
Kohlrabi can be easily grown in 5-liter sized containers. Kohlabi is a cool-season crop and can be planted in the spring. Kohlrabi also requires partial sun conditions so growers must be careful with the selection of the right site to place containers. The containers should be at least 6 inches deep but should have good width. Selection of good quality organic soil, potting mix, and the right variety are essentially important to produce quality yield.
Compost is the best fertilizer for the kohlrabi plants and helps to improve quality and quantity by multiple times. Compost provides nutrients both to the plants and microorganisms and greatly helps to improve soil structure for supporting good growth. However granular fertilizers can also be added to the growing media during the mixing process. Furthermore, the direct contact of synthetic fertilizers with the seeds and delicate plant seedlings should be avoided as it can cause injuries and killing.
Parsley grows well in partially shaded and sunny conditions. Growers must select a pot with good depth and up to 300 mm width to ensure good growth and development of parsley. This plant grows well in the soil having a pH range between 6-7, good drainage, and fertility. The addition of organic matter and potting mix is always a good approach to improve soil structure and plant production potential. Growers could use loamy soils in the container but if loamy soil is not available, compost and grow mix can be added to improve soil quality.
Tips and FAQ for Container Gardening
What type of container should I use to plant vegetables?
Larger growing plants always need more space to grow their roots and stems. So the selection of large and wide pots is a good choice to promote growth and development. Moreover, these containers must be placed at places where stems can get enough space to grow their height and width.
The use of small-sized containers should be avoided as these containers cannot retain good moisture during the hot summer days and thus plants have to suffer from water stress.
There are no strict and hard and fast rules for the selection of containers and growers can use anything that can retain the soil.
Some commonly used containers for vegetable gardening include troughs, tubs, boxes, baskets, buckets, and barrels.
Growers must dig optimally sized holes in the bottom of containers to ensure drainage.
The use of clay pots or containers is more good choice than plastic containers. However, the structure of a plastic pot can be used to make a clay pot.
Black-colored pots absorb more heat so the black color should only be used for the sun and heat-loving plants.
Containers must be placed in properly ventilated areas to ensure good aeration.
Container soil needs more fertilization than gardening or lawn soil so compost and liquid fertilizers must be added to reduce the soil fertility losses.
1-2 inches layer of stones of coarse gravels must be added in the bottom of containers.
The addition of trellis or plant support should be considered for the climbing plants.
Cement containers are durable but expensive so growers should only consider cement containers if they are planning to go for container gardening in the future also.
The use of the wooden container is essentially important to grow plants that need more space and add significant beauty to the gardens.
Using plastic containers is a cheaper option but their quality will be affected after a few months or years of use.
Ceramic glazed containers can hold more moisture than the other containers and do not get hot in the presence of excessive heat. These are more expensive but the one-time investment can add significant beauty to the home, and growers do not have to worry about buying new containers again and again.