Fine Gardening magazine

Patio Vegetables to Grow

If you have a sunny spot but not much space, try growing vegetables in pots

by Sylvia Thompson

My gardening efforts are confined to what I can fit on a patio, which is in full sun. Can you tell me what vegetable varieties can be grown in a pot?
Ken Aberlee, San Luis Obispo, California

Tomatoes in pots
'Tiny Tim' tomato plants are a good bet for containers.
Sylvia Thompson replies: Any kitchen-garden plant can be grown in a container as long as you meet the plant's needs. All things being equal, container-grown plants mature at the same rate as those in the ground -- sometimes sooner. As long as roots have ample room, any shape and any material may be used, although metal gets hot, as do containers in dark colors. The simplest soil mix -- straight garden soil doesn't drain -- is equal parts humusy garden soil, compost, sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite, and sharp sand. Place screening over the drainage holes to guard against slugs. Let the soil just dry out between waterings and fertilize more lightly but more frequently than if the plants were in the ground.

Experiment with growing intensively; plant more vegetables to a pot than the label indicates. Be playful by mixing vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. Half barrels make lovely mini gardens, providing all plants have similar requirements. And don't forget to hang a garden in baskets in the air: cherry tomatoes, Malabar spinach, and strawberries, for starters.

The best container vegetables
There are many great vegetables that can be grown
in containers. Here are just a few of my favorites.

25-gallon pots
Burpee's 'Fourth of July' potato collection
'Oregon Spring' tomatoes
'Table Gold' winter squash
'Tom Thumb' popcorn

5-gallon pots
'Tiny Tim' cherry tomatoes
'Salad Bush' cucumbers
'Little Fingers' eggplant
'Miniature Red Bell' pepper
'Sugar Baby' watermelon

3-gallon pots
'Tom Thumb' lettuce
'Golden' beets
'Cherry Belle' radishes
Mustard greens
'Tokyo Cross' turnips

1- to 2-gallon pots
'Touchon' carrots
'Evergreen White Bunching' scallions

Sylvia Thompson is the author of The Kitchen Garden.

Photo: Boyd Hagen

From Fine Gardening #69, p. 16
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