5 easy-to-grow edibles for container gardening
So what are the best vegetables (and fruit) to grow in containers? Some crops are more suited than others to grow in small spaces. We’ll reveal our top crops, focusing on five delicious, easy-to-grow edibles that will give you plenty to pick!
Most edibles can be grown in pots, but if we had to pick the best crops to grow this way these five would be top of the list:
Strawberries can be grown in all sorts of containers, from purpose-bought strawberry planters, to guttering and even hanging baskets. Use a rich, moisture-retentive potting soil and mix some organic fertilizer into the potting soil before planting.
Strawberries in containers should escape the attention of most slugs, but you will probably still need to net the fruits against birds. Make sure birds can’t get under any netting you use. Mulch the top of your container with straw or gravel to keep the fruits clean and the roots moist and cool.
Like strawberries, tomatoes need plenty of nutrients and consistent moisture. Use a potting mix that includes loam, which will help it hold moisture for longer.
Bush tomatoes and smaller tumbling varieties are best for pots and hanging baskets. They don’t need any pruning or pinching out as they grow. Plant a few marigolds with your tomatoes for color and to help repel aphids.
Closely related eggplant and peppers also grow well in containers.
3. Salad Leaves
Shallow-rooted salad leaves are quick and easy to grow, and make perfect container crops. Harvest the whole plant all at once, or pick leaves as and when you need them over several weeks.
Sow a new pot of salad leaves every few weeks for a continuous supply. In fall, protect the plants with row cover fabric or move the pots into a cold frame to keep the harvests coming.
There are lots of different kinds of salad leaves with a range of leaf shapes, colors, flavors and textures, from lettuce to arugula, mizuna and mustard.
Carrots are best grown in tall containers to keep them out of reach of the low-flying carrot fly.
Sow from spring through summer. Mix the tiny seeds with sand to help space them out as you sow, and thin out seedlings after they’ve germinated to give them enough space.
Harvest the biggest roots first and allow smaller ones to continue to grow for longer.
5. Swiss Chard
Prolific leafy Swiss chard is available in a range of eye-catching stem colors, making it a real head-turner when grown in a container.
In spring sow chard in plug trays then transplant into your containers, or sow directly into the containers, spacing the plants at least six inches apart. Harvesting starts about three months after sowing. Pick little and often for a long season of harvest, and keep plants well fed and watered in dry weather. Continue to harvest chard throughout fall, and even over winter in milder areas.
Keep container plants well-watered in dry weather and feed regularly with a liquid fertilizer during the growing season. High-potassium tomato feed will help tomatoes and strawberries to fruit well. A general-purpose feed such as liquid seaweed is suitable for most other potted crops. Most crops like plenty of sun, but leafy salads and chard may prefer partial shade in hotter regions.
See the Almanac Growing Guides for these five crops and many more!
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I'd like to try growing strawberries in guttering. It's not that I don't have gardening room to spare, but vertical gardening seems like it mitigates a lot of issues with strawberries. And I like to try different things :-) Before I put the effort into setting it up, I have a question about wintering them over. I'm in zone 7, eastern Tennessee. How does one mulch a gutter garden? I suppose I can heap some hay or straw on top, which will protect the crowns, but will the roots be OK? Or is there something else I should plan to do?
I'm trying some bush beans in containers for the first time. I've done really well with cucumbers in the past.
I am going to try to grow red beets in grow bags this year. I tried potatoes twice but had no luck. Thanks
Just love everything I get from your daily webpage. Being in South Africa, we are winter now but still so enjoy everything you have to offer. Barbara