10 Great Vegetables to Grow In Containers

  • 01 of 11

    A Few Words about Growing Vegetables in Containers

    photo of basket of tomatoes
    Tomato Harvest. Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    There is no such thing as a fool-proof vegetable and there are no guarantees with any kind of gardening. The weather, critters, and mistakes can make container gardening, well... interesting.

    The larger the container, the more potting soil it will hold so the more margin for error you will have. A large volume of soil will hold moisture for longer and nutrition for your plants.

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  • 02 of 11

    Tomatoes

    Container Tomatoes
    Photo © Kerry Michaels

    You could almost start and end this discussion with tomatoes. They are overwhelmingly the favorite vegetable for gardeners to grow. Growing tomatoes in containers is easy and incredibly satisfying - there really is nothing better than eating a tomato from your garden that is still warm from the sun.

    There are many ways of growing tomatoes - every gardener has their favorite - you can even grow them upside-down. There are a few things that you will need to know, no matter which of the millions of varieties of tomato that you decide to grow.

    Tomatoes need great soil, plenty of sun and consistent watering. Most tomatoes also are happiest in big containers and will need staking, to keep the heavy fruit from bending and breaking the vines.

    If you are buying tomato seedlings, look for short, stocky plants that don’t have blossoms yet. Tomatoes don’t like to be cold so don’t be tempted to put them out too early, they will just become stressed and won’t grow as well. Your soil should be at least 55 F during the day and nighttime temperatures shouldn’t go below 40 F. Make sure to harden off seedlings well before you plant them.

    When planting tomato seedlings, plant them deep – much deeper than you would most plants.

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  • 03 of 11

    Peas in Pots

    sugar snap pea
    Photo © Kerry Michaels

    Peas are a great cool weather vegetable and stop producing when it gets too warm. They can be planted in early spring and then again when it gets cool in the fall. Peas are perfect for succession planting – plant them in early spring and then when it gets warm, and they are finished producing, pull them out and plant something else in that container.

    They actually improve your soil, by adding nitrogen to it, so your next batch of plants will have a leg up. Peas are also one of the best vegetables to grow with children. They are fast growers and super easy.

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  • 04 of 11

    Potatoes

    Pototatoes
    Photo © Kerry Michaels

    Potatoes are one of my favorite things to grow in containers - freshly picked potatoes taste totally different than the potatoes you buy. While it does take some effort to grow ​potatoes in containers, as well as a fair amount of soil and water, the rewards are fantastic. If you have never had a freshly dug potato, you are in for a total treat. They are also a great vegetable to grow with kids.

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  • 05 of 11

    Squash

    container gardening picture of zucchini
    Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    To be honest, I don’t grow too much squash, because it is really cheap and abundant at farmers markets and local groceries. Neighbors give it away by the bundle; there are some really cool varieties of squash that you can grow, that are hard to find in the grocery store. Squash is an easy vegetable to grow and squash blossoms are beautiful and edible and expensive to buy.

    Most squash takes up a lot of space and will need a fairly large container, lots of light, good soil and consistent watering and feeding.

    If you are going to grow winter squash in a container, make sure the variety you choose is not one of the giants, whose fruit can weigh in at well over 20 pounds.

    Honeybear is an award-winning smaller variety of acorn squash and there are even tiny pumpkins you can grow.

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  • 06 of 11

    Lettuce and Salad Greens

    Lettuce
    Photo © Kerry Michaels

    Growing lettuce and other salad greens in containers is my idea of heaven. It’s easy, fast and gives you a bang for your gardening buck. You also don't need as much sun as most vegetables need to get a great crop, and it is super easy to grow from seeds.

    There are all kinds of great salad green and mesclun mixes you can buy that are great for containers. Some are so beautiful, you can also use them in decorative pots, like Johnny's Elegance Greens Mix and Hudson Vally Seed Library's Meclun Mix.

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  • 07 of 11

    Peppers Hot and Sweet

    Both hot and sweet peppers can be spectacularly beautiful, especially orange and purple sweet peppers in containers. They thrive in grow boxes but can be grown in any large container, with lots of sun, good drainage, and consistent watering.

    Hot peppers come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They range in hotness from mild to searing (measured on the Scoville Scale).
     

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  • 08 of 11

    Cucumbers in Pots

    Photo of a Diva Cucumber
    Photo © Kerry Michaels

    Cucumbers are another popular vegetable to grow in containers, and for good reason. They are crisper and tastier when freshly picked and they are pretty easy to grow.

    You can grow almost any cucumber in a container, but they vary widely in taste and disease resistance.

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  • 09 of 11

    Radishes

    French Breakfast Radish
    Photograph © Kerry Michael

    Radishes are container vegetable gardening heaven for me. They grow ridiculously quickly and some varieties are gorgeous. Radishes can be grown in full sun to part shade. They don't like to get too hot though.

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  • 10 of 11

    Growing Arugula in Pots

    While the spicy taste of the arugula leaves can be tasty, the flowers are what knock my taste buds out. They are sweet and spicy at the same time and are also beautiful. While some may not care for the texture of some edible flowers, arugula has a completely delightful texture and is really easy to grow.

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  • 11 of 11

    Eggplant in Pots is Easy and Beautiful

    Fairytale Eggplant
    Photograph © Kerry Michaels

    Eggplant is one of those great vegetables that also works as an ornamental. Some small varieties are very pretty and easy to grow. The flowers are gorgeous, as is the foliage.

    Some strong eggplants to grow are ‘fairytale,’ and 'Hansel' which are both compact plants with beautiful and tasty fruit (and yes, eggplant is technically a fruit). You can pick them as babies or wait until they get a little larger. They are both thin-skinned so no need to peel before you cook them.