Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

Mar 27
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Container Vegetable Garden


Beans are a perfect container gardening crop as they don’t take up much space. Beans come in two major categories, bush (12-24 inches tall) and pole types (5-8 feet tall). Bush varieties maintain a compact habit, while pole beans grow tall and require support to grow vertically. Both types can be used for container growing; however, we recommend bush types for their compact habit. You may fit 3 bush plants into a 2-gallon container or 3 pole plants into a 5-gallon container.

Container Bush Beans


For container growing, make sure to use a pot or planter that is at least 10 inches deep and can drain excess water. Use a light and fluffy soil mix that will easily allow the roots to expand and develop within the container. Beets grow well in zones 2-10 as they love cool weather (50-70F), with many being adaptable for container growing. For zones 7-10, use a cold frame to maintain ideal temperatures as long as possible from fall to spring. In the colder zones 2-6, they may be grown in the fall and spring months but should be brought inside if you want to grow during the winter. Beets also make good microgreens for indoor growing.

Bulls Blood, Detroit Dark Red, Red Ace, Early Wonder


Carrots are cool-season root vegetables that require plenty of moist and light soil for healthy development in containers. When growing carrots in containers, you will want to make sure you have a deep enough container. The larger the carrot variety matures, the larger the container is needed. Below you will find recommendations for both short and medium-length varieties, although any variety can be grown in a container with the right depth and soil type. Be sure your container is at least 2-4 inches deeper than your variety may mature to.


Cucumbers are generally categorized as slicing or pickling types. Below you will find compact varieties that are great for container gardens. Cucumbers have a natural compound called cucurbitacins that taste bitter and are reported to be linked to feelings of indigestion for some people. We have also included some burpless recommendations where this compound is found in smaller quantities leading to a less bitter flavor than other cucumbers. These recommendations are of the vining rather than compact habit requiring training onto a trellis support. These plants will provide bigger yields as well as larger plants.


Eggplants are an excellent summer container gardening crop. Remember, eggplant is ideally started indoors 7-9 weeks before transplanting. From there, it will be another 55-90 days (depending on variety) until they are mature. Containers that hold at least 5 gallons of soil should be used with at least 12-14 inches of space for each plant. Eggplants take up a similar amount of space to tomatoes.


Generally, any lettuce will grow well in containers. The key to growing good lettuce is making sure it has moist, well-draining soil and not too much water. Lettuce does not like its roots to be too wet. Because lettuce develops shallow roots, you can grow it in as small as a 6-inch pot. Lettuce is the perfect crop for growing in the spring and fall months or indoors all year long. Hot summer temperatures can cause lettuce to bolt and become bitter tasting.


Onions can easily be grown in containers. Make sure you allocate at least 3 inches per onion for root development. Your containers should also be at least 10 inches deep. Be sure to select a variety suitable for your location. Bulbing onions develop their roots based on the length of light in a day. You will find recommendations below based on each day-length category. Short-Day varieties grow best in southern regions from 25-35 degrees latitude. Intermediate-day varieties rest in the middle and overlap parts of the short-day and long-day regions from 32-42 degrees latitude. Long-day varieties grow best in northern regions from 37-47 degrees latitude. Bunching onions are not dependent on day-length as they do not develop a bulbing root. Make sure your container is at least 6 inches deep with good drainage for bunching varieties.


Peas are a great choice for container gardening as they have a shallow root system. They also grow best during the cool growing months letting you get an early start to the season. Use containers that are 8-12 inches deep and as long as you would like. The longer your container, the more you can plant. Peas germinate well in temperatures of 50-60F. While these varieties do well in containers, it can still be helpful to provide something for them to climb up. Something as simple as attaching some string to two posts will work.


Peppers grow well in containers. They are a warm-season vegetable that grow well during the hot summer months. Because they can take a white to mature compared to other vegetables, it is best to start them indoors 7-9 weeks before transplanting. Their days to maturity reflect the amount of time required after transplanting until maturity.


Radishes grow best during the cool growing months and can be sown once temperatures reach 50F. As one of the fastest vegetables to mature, they can easily be sown in succession for a steady harvest. Radishes have 3 categories including spring, winter, and sprouting. Spring radishes are those that you would traditionally find in a grocery store for fresh eating and are the fastest to mature. Winter types take longer to mature and develop an elongated shape. These typically store best, although only for a few weeks. Sprouting radishes are those that grow well as sprouts or microgreens from a few days to a couple of weeks. Spring and round winter varieties (like those mentioned below) should be grown in a container that is at least 6 inches deep and wide.


Tomatoes are one of the most popular summer crops as they grow well during the hot summer months. Below are some of the best container varieties for growing on patio and balcony gardens. Tomatoes come in many sizes, categorized as slicing (large and juicy), paste (oblong and meaty), salad (medium and juicy), and cherry (snack-sized). In addition to these categories, they are also categorized by how they mature. Indeterminate varieties come on throughout the season for a continual harvest. As these are continually growing, they are considered vining and require support. Determinate varieties mature all at once and usually have more of a bushing habit. This type is ideal for canning as you will have a large harvest all at once. Semi-determinate types have the smaller bushing habit of determinate varieties paired with the extended harvest of indeterminate types.

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