Growing vegetables in containers can solve so many problems. You have control over the soil and watering, they fit in small spaces like balconies and patios, and you can move them around to get the desired amount of sun.
This list from High-Value Veggies by Mel Bartholomew tells you which veggies do best in containers and the conditions they prefer. If sunshine is limited in your garden, also see Vegetables that Grow in the Shade.
If you’re like me, my best growing space is at a premium and I like to make the best use of it.
When it comes to growing vegetables, my number one tip is to grow what you love to eat. There’s no sense in using up prime space to grow things we don’t actually want to eat or will have a hard time giving away. Although I can justify growing some just for their beauty.
In High-Value Veggies, Mel Bartholomew takes it a step further and determines exactly which crops really pay off. It’s based on growing space, costs, and time required, versus the cost for the same items from your local grower or farmer’s market.
And no, you don’t have to do the math! It’s already calculated for you. The book is filled with helpful lists so you can make the best choices for your garden.
Fifty-nine of the most common vegetables are ranked, determining which ones give you the biggest bang (or freshly-canned tomato sauce) for your buck.
I enjoy a straight-forward, logical approach like this.
10 Best Vegetables for Containers
This list is provided with permission from Cool Springs Press.
Containers can be an incredibly efficient way to grow edibles, whether you’re using them to supplement a larger backyard garden or as a standalone garden. The beauty of containers is that you control all aspects of cultivation. It’s easier to know what’s in the soil, and simpler to detect and deal with problems such as pests and diseases as soon as they arise.
Containers are also mobile. This means you can move them to match the sun, adjusting for trees that leaf out over the season, or just for the movement of the sun in the sky over the course of a season, or as seasons change. You can even move sensitive crops indoors as need be—a great way to extend the growing season with a container garden.
That said, you should be careful when selecting containers for edibles. Some materials, such as the ubiquitous terra cotta, have drawbacks that may not serve vegetables well. For instance, unfinished terra cotta may leach water too quickly away from thirsty plants roots. Wood containers may have contained substances that left behind compounds harmful to plant roots. It pays to be careful about the containers you use.
You should also take the opportunity of choosing containers to find ones that suit the look of your backyard (or front yard, as the case may be). Containers can be an excellent way to beautify your outdoor spaces, and you can always paint or otherwise modify your containers to improve the style.
If you’re going to consume large amounts of the herbs you grow, such as basil, dedicating one container to a plant makes sense. However, if you’re looking for a small kitchen garden, you can use a larger container such as a half-barrel to grow smaller amounts assortment of your favorite herbs all in one place.
Related: Handy Sun Chart for Growing Herbs.
- Tomatoes thrive on controlled water, making containers ideal because you can easily check soil moisture and provide a consistent supply of water with drip irrigation or even a small hand-watering cup.
- Most will grow up inside a tomato cage quite handily, allowing for excellent air circulation and perfect positioning for ideal sunlight exposure.
3 BUSH BEAN
- Bush bean plants fill out the average large container and leave room for a support if necessary.
- Container planting also makes it easy to check for any pests and to harvest your crop when it’s ready.
Idea gallery: 20+ Ideas for Veggie Beds.
- Use a large, deep container, and continue covering the emerging sprouts with soil and you’ll wind up with a bumper crop of spuds.
- A container will also allow you to make sure there is nothing in the soil— disease or pest—that might attack the growing roots.
Free printable: How to store fruit and veggies.
- Use a trellis in a large container to grow eggplants up a support, offering them beneficial air circulation, ideal sun exposure, and easy harvesting.
6 BELL PEPPER
- Bell peppers—and other pepper plants for that matter—are ideal container plants.
- The bush will thrive and the container can be moved to the shade when the heat threatens to overwhelm the plant.
7 SWISS CHARD
- This is an ideal crop for a medium-sized container (a recycled 5-gallon bucket is ideal).
- This will accommodate the plant’s taproot and allow for a bushy top growth.
- Place the bucket right outside the kitchen door so that you can harvest leaves whenever you want to.
Got drought conditions? Here’s your best veggie list.
- Radishes are ideal for a child’s container garden.
- Use multicolored varieties to introduce children to the wonders of gardening and show them how to care for plants in a confined, easily manageable area.
- Use a large container and grow a salad garden.
- Mix and match different types of lettuce.
- An all-in-one container will allow you to snip as you go and make custom salads from whatever happens to be ripe.
- It will also keep the tasty greens out of the reach of snails and slugs.
- The rich, healthy, nutrient-packed greens do best in super-nutritious soil, which you can provide in one easy package by planting in a container.
- You can also keep this useful kitchen standard growing for as long as possible by keeping it in the sun and moving it inside to extend the season.