Vegetables in pots is a great way to extend your growing space; and as backyard homesteaders we are always looking for that! There are lots of vegetables that will grow fantastically in pots and other containers. And many of them are rather pretty so I love having them on my back porch or even at the front door.
Our main growing method is raised beds – which really is just a large container, if you think about it. But because our backyard farm is limited in space, I am always looking for ways to use every inch. Over the years I have tried lots of different containers. I started with using self-watering containers made with 5 gallon buckets. These worked pretty well but only in cooler months. Once the Phoenix heat gets going that plastic heats up too much for the growing roots. I also don’t care for all those orange buckets on my porch.
These days I use fabric pots in all sizes to grow my vegetables in pots (though I still have some standard pots around for cooler times). I have found these have many benefits: prevents root bound because the roots get air, and when not in use they are easy enough to fold up and put away. Not to mention, even when filled with soil, they are light enough to move as needed. I do recommend the black fabric over the tan if you want them to look…well less dirty.
Whatever containers you choose, make sure there is drainage. The great part of using single containers over raised beds is you have ultimate control over the soil and making conditions for each vegetable nearly perfect in that space. Yes, you’re limited in the amount of containers your area will hold but YOU can literally grow vegetables in pots just about anywhere!
Vegetables in Pots the Best Veggies to Grow in Containers
Lettuce does extremely well in containers. You’ll want to choose pots that have a wider opening but you won’t need much depth. I prefer to grow leaf lettuces in my pots but you can do lettuce heads as well. Plant your seeds 4 – 6 inches apart and you can grow several varieties in the same container.
Kale is another veggie that does well in pots. Kale comes in a variety of colors and shapes which add beauty to any place they are grown. Kale needs at least a pot 12 inches in diameter. For large containers you can grow several plants in one pot; but they each need about a square foot in space to grow properly.
I have taken to grow my spinach exclusively in pots. It does beautifully! Since spinach is a slower growing veggie I prefer to grow it in containers and use bed space for other things. You’ll need a container no less than 6 inches deep, but you really don’t need much more depth than that either. You can grow 9 spinach plants in a square foot so don’t be afraid to put several in one pot.
When in comes to vegetables in pots my rainbow Swiss chard usually gets the most compliments on how pretty it is. And funny enough, many people don’t know this gorgeous plant is a veggie at all! With stunning bright colors you can plant your chard on the front porch of any HOA home, even when they forbid growing food (yes, some do). I have found that a 5 gallon container is just about perfect for growing Swiss chard and if it has a diameter of at least 12 inches I can put 4 plants in one pot.
Peppers of all sorts do great in containers. I have grown bell peppers, jalapenos and habeneros in containers with great success (sometimes more than I can use!). Because peppers are a warm season plant you definitely want to grow these in the fabric pots vs a plastic one that will heat up in rising temperatures. Bell peppers need at least a 12 inch deep pot, though I would probably go deeper; and only one plant per pot. Smaller pepper plants, like jalapenos, will need 2 or 3 gallons to be healthy.
Fresh onions are amazing and can grow quite well in pots on a porch or balcony. Choose containers with a 12 inch diameter or more and 10 – 12 inches deep. In that space you can grow about 16 green onion plants or 4 storage onions. Not bad for growing vegetables in pots…you’ve already got a great salad growing!
As far as growing vegetables in pots, potatoes are probably my favorite. If you know how to store them properly, you can keep your garden potatoes for months! I grow the in containers on my porch, and even between my raised beds. I prefer the containers to be tall vs wide; potatoes are typically grow in mounds or hills so a tall bag allows you to slowly add soil over newly sprouted greens. But make no mistake, I grow them in every available pot I have in my possession; and they do great! You can plant 3 or 4 seed potatoes in a 5 gallon pot.
Just like potatoes, this root veggie does quite well in pots. You’ll want a good depth of 6 inches minimum but 12 is better; and 12 inches in width as well. Just like in Square Foot Gardening, you can plant 16 carrots in a 1 foot x 1 foot container. Be patient with your carrots, they often don’t grow as fast and the seed package would have you believe. We love carrots so growing carrots in pots has helped to increase our overall harvest, and that’s a very good thing.
Cauliflower and Broccoli
Many cole crops can be grown in containers but I have found that cauliflower and broccoli have done the best for me. Your cauliflower and broccoli will do best in 4 or 5 gallon containers and only 1 plant per container. Remember after harvesting your main head from your broccoli you’ll have other, smaller, side shoots will appear for you to enjoy.
Another warm weather vegetable that you can grow in containers is zucchini and other squash plants. Zucchini gets big so you’ll want to place it in an area that it won’t be blocking a walking path or anything else. Give your zucchini no less than 5 gallons of soil to grow in and only 1 plant per container. I prefer to plant the bush type of squash in containers but if you have a vine type you might want to add a tomato cage to the container for support.
Tomatoes were the first thing I grew in pots. Sure technically they are fruit but I’m still including them because they do so well in containers. From cherry tomatoes to big beef stake be sure to give your tomato plants 5 gallons of soil. Again, here I prefer a deeper vs wider container for root stability. You’ll need to watch your water and don’t let them dry out; I recommend adding a little mulch over the soil to keep it moist. Then just give them good support and some regular pruning and enjoy the harvest. Growing tomatoes in pots make protecting them from birds a little easier too.
Whether you have an apartment balcony, a porch off your backdoor or just want a kitchen garden in addition to your large garden; vegetables in pots is a wonderful option!