With all container grown vegetables you want to go for varieties that are “suitable for close spacing“, sometimes described as “mini-veg“.
The simple answer is anything you like as long as the pot is big enough! The easiest thing to start with is probably some salad crops and culinary herbs. Not only are these edible but they are also decorative.
Most herbs are slow growing but a word of warning about mint. The mints are vigorous and invasive so they will soon fill any pot and overcome other herbs. The trick is to keep them constrained in a 4″ pot sunk into the larger pot with your other herbs so the roots can not take over. Just leave the edge of the pot proud of the soil surface.
Suitable lettuce varieties would be Tom Thumb or Little Gem or you could sow a mixed baby leaf collection and make your salads more varied. See Lettuce & Salad Leaves in the Allotment Shop
Interplant with some salad onions and radish and you have the makings of a really fresh salad.
You can get some really nice clean young carrots from a container. My favourite variety for container growing was Amsterdam Forcing Sweet young carrots go well in a salad or just wash and steam them to go with a hot meal. Try station sowing about 5 seeds to the station and thinning or just scatter the seeds and use the thinnings whole in salads. See Carrots in the Allotment Shop
You can get a surprising amount from growing in pots or even just plastic sacks. It’s important to feed well and one trick I heard was to plant one seed potato per pot. When ready, take the plant from the pot, remove a meal from the plant and replace in the pot. Leave for a month (continuing to feed and water) and there will be another meal in the pot. With a number of pots you can take from one and then the next, giving you a meal every day.
It’s well worth using fast first early varieties such as Arran Pilot, Swift or Rocket and you might like to try a second early like Charlotte, a salad potato
Broad, French & Runner Beans
Most dwarf French beans will perform well in a pot but for broad beans you need a dwarf variety such as The Sutton and for the runner beans a variety such as Hestia I have grown normal runner beans in a very large tub but the dwarf varieties are far more sensible. See Runner Beans in the Allotment Shop
Any ordinary variety should be fine but you will need to keep the point where the leaves meet the shaft collared to get a good blanch as you will not be able to deep plant in a hole.
I’ve not tried ordinary onions because I doubt they are worth it in a limited space but I can see no reason why you shouldn’t be able to grow them.
Try something like April or Chirimen F1 or F1 Hispi or Pixie which are ideal for close spacing and container growing. I have seen 3 grown from a 12″ diameter bowl! See Cabbage in the Allotment Shop
You can try Avalanche F1 particularly for solid miniature heads. See Cauliflowers
For beetroot try Pablo F1 and for turnips try Arcoat or Snowball See Beetroot
Tomatoes are often grown in pots or growbags on a patio but you can do really well with them in a hanging basket. Try the Balconi Collection from T&M or our favourite Gartenpearle (Garden Pearl) See Tomatoes in the Allotment Shop
Making the Most of Your Containers
It seems a reasonable assumption that if you are growing in containers you are short of space and want to maximise the crops you take. The trick to this is successional sowing.
A coldframe or some sort of shelter will enable you to start ahead of the season. For example; take the humble lettuce. You can take a seed tray with 24 pockets and sow into the first 8 sections. In two or three weeks sow into the second and after another few weeks into the third. Pinch out excess to end up with one plant per pocket and when space appears transplant the plug.
This way you always have crops ready to plant out and replace your last meal.
Useful Links in the Allotment Shop:
Container Pot & Patio Growing, Flowers, Vegetables, Fruit & Herbs – Information & Advice
- Container Gardening – Container Vegetable Growing
- Container Gardening – General Advice Guide & Tips
- Container Gardening – Protecting Your Plants & Crops From Pests
- Growing Tables for Vegetables, Fruit & Herbs
- The Basics Of How to Plant Container Gardens
- What Vegetables Can You Grow in Containers?
- Winter Care of Container Fruit Trees