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Growing Vegetables in Pots: Vegetable Container Gardening for Beginners
Growing vegetables does not mean you have to have a massive yard or even a yard at all! You can successfully grow many vegetables in pots. It’s an easy, fun, and fantastic way to maximize your outdoor growing area. If you are growing vegetables in pots, there are some key things to consider. As a beginner, you want to make sure you understand the easiest vegetables to grow in pots, how to fill your containers, and how to water and fertilize your potted vegetables. In this blog, you will learn all that and more!
Easy Vegetables to Grow in Pots
When growing vegetables in pots, you want to make sure to choose crops that will do well in a pot or container. Some vegetables are naturally easier to grow in pots than others. Here are some examples of vegetables that are perfect for beginners to grow in pots.
Growing Tomatoes in Pots
Despite tomato plants often being unruly and large, they make our list of easy vegetables for beginners to grow in pots. Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetable crops grown by gardeners, so it’s no wonder there are hundreds of tomato varieties explicitly bred for growing in containers! When choosing tomatoes to grow in a pot, make sure you look for determinate, bush, or dwarf varieties. These varieties will not get as big and unruly as their indeterminate cousins. A variety such as our Tasmanian Chocolate tomato does wonderfully in a container because it is a bush tomato variety. Even though it grows small and compact, it will give you loads of tomatoes! Most potted tomatoes enjoy a pot size of at least 20″ deep and benefit from an even larger pot size if possible. If you only have a small pot or container available, you can grow the Tiny Tim tomato. This super small tomato plant can be grown in a small pot on a patio! Other great tomato varieties for growing in containers are our Goldie tomato, Brandywine Saladette, and our Granny’s Choice tomato. You can shop all our compact, determinate tomato varieties here!
Growing Peppers in Pots
Peppers are great vegetables for growing in containers! Many varieties are small and compact, giving you tons of peppers in a small space! When growing peppers in pots, make sure you select a pot that is at least 20″ deep. Keep in mind, the smaller the pot or container, the more quickly your pepper plant will dry out. We recommend growing only one pepper plant per 20″ pot, so that the plant can utilize as much soil space as possible. Excellent pepper varieties to grow in containers are sweet peppers like our Yolo, Merlot, and Lunchbox. Hot peppers do exceptionally well in containers, too, because the peppers are small. A small amount of really hot peppers are all you need for a recipe! Shop all our hot peppers here!
Growing Radishes and Other Root Crops in Pots
When looking for easy vegetables to grow in containers, root crops are a great choice! Radishes are a super easy vegetable to grow in pots or small containers. They don’t need much soil space to be happy and can be grown in shallow pots on a balcony or patio. Radishes such as our watermelon radish are hard to find in stores and look amazing in recipes. Other root crops like beets and carrots also do exceptionally well in pots or containers. If growing root crops in a container, make sure you fill the container with a high-quality, light potting mix for the best results. Learn more about filling your pots or containers below in the Best Soil for Growing Vegetables in Pots section.
Growing Lettuces and Greens in Pots
Nothing is tastier than freshly cut greens from your garden! Lettuces and most greens do not require tons of soil space to grow. You can grow them in shallow pots on a patio or balcony. Mixed greens like our Mesclun mix can be harvested 3-4 times in a season using the cut-and-come-again method. Greens like arugula thrive when you harvest them heavily and often. You can watch a video here of us showing you this harvesting method. All lettuce varieties can easily be grown in a pot. Shop all our varieties now!
As a beginner growing vegetables in pots, your most important decision is to make sure you choose vegetable varieties that do well in containers. We have listed easy common crops to grow in containers, but this is not an exhaustive list. You can grow almost any vegetable crop in a container if the container is large enough, and the variety is well suited to growing in a pot or container. Remember to consider size and growth habits when choosing vegetable varieties to grow in a pot. If you are unsure of what varieties do well in containers, we have researched for you. Shop all our container varieties here.
Best Soil for Growing Vegetables in Pots
When growing vegetables in pots, it is essential to fill your containers with high-quality potting mix and good compost. Potting mix is formulated specifically for growing plants in a potted culture and will help facilitate proper drainage and airflow. Light, fluffy potting mix allows for root crops to form with ease and for the roots of other crops to quickly grow throughout the container. Adding compost to your containers will help ensure your pots have healthy microbiology present in natural soil.
Additionally, compost helps to safeguard against drying out. Compost can hold onto moisture 2-3 times longer than other soil particles and will help prevent your containers from becoming too dry between watering. You can mix compost into your potting mix at a 10-20% ratio. Adding mulch around your plants on the top of the soil is another consideration for growing vegetables in pots. This also helps prevent drying out and keeps the soil cooler in hot climates. For Zones 9 and 10, this is essential. Keep in mind that if you place your potted plants on hot concrete, they will dry out faster.
Best Watering Practices for Growing Vegetables in Pots
We often find that beginning gardeners do not understand the best watering methods for growing vegetables in pots or containers. Because of this, potted vegetables are often left to dry out between waterings or are left saturated in stagnate water. Both of these practices will cause your potted plants to suffer and will diminish yield and fruit quality. The best method for watering your potted plants is to allow water to be sucked up from a bottom saucer or tray. By watering this way, the plant can slowly take in water and become wholly saturated throughout all parts of the pot. Doing so also prevents foliar diseases that are common with overhead watering practices.
If your soil is completely wet and water is still sitting in your saucer, dump that water so that your potted plant is not sitting in rotting, stagnant water. This method, called bottom watering, is our preferred method for watering starts in the greenhouse and our potted plants. Another benefit to this watering practice is that you save water. If you let your plant dry out completely and water it from the top down, you will see that water runs through the soil very quickly, and the soil captures very little moisture. By having a saucer or bottom tray to catch the water, your plants will be happier, and you will save water. That’s a win-win!
Best Fertilizer Practices for Growing Vegetables in Pots
When growing vegetables in pots, it is essential to understand that your potted plant is restricted to the nutrients that you add to the pot. Even if you use potting mix and compost, those may not have enough nutrients for your plant to thrive. We recommend using an organic granular fertilizer that you mix into the potting mix used to fill the pot. Read the measuring directions on the product to estimate how much to use. The benefits of using an organic granular fertilizer are that most quality brands will have micronutrients and beneficial bacteria in the fertilizer, which will help your plants thrive in the potted culture. You can also use a liquid organic fertilizer during the growing season. Either way, make sure your hungry vegetable plants are getting fed!
As you can see, there are just a few key things you know to be successful at growing vegetables in pots or containers as a beginner. Make sure you choose appropriate plant types and varieties, add quality potting mix and compost to your containers, and practice good watering habits. With these tips, you will be filling your kitchen with organic produce straight from your container garden.