Summer veggies in pots

Tips from Sunset's test garden help you grow your favorite crops in containers

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Best summer vegetables for containers

You can plant 10 to 20 beans, three eggplants or peppers, or two cucumbers in a single large container. But don't plant more than one squash or tomato seedling per pot. Around the edges of the container, you can tuck in a few edible companions like basil.

BEANS. Both bush and pole types take well to containers. To support pole beans, put a trellis at the rear of the container or form a tepee with bamboo poles. Try bush- or pole-type 'Blue Lake'. We trained 'Dwarf Bees' runner beans up a wire obelisk (shown above right).

CUCUMBERS. We grew 'Lemon' and 'Marketmore 86' cukes up a trellis (shown above left) , tying the vines to the trellis as they grew. Neither variety produced as well as those grown in the ground.

EGGPLANT. We grew 'Ichiban', an Oriental type, in the same container as sweet peppers; it bore beautiful small eggplants. Another one to try is 'Bambino', which produces walnut-size fruits.

PEPPERS. Try 'California Wonder' and 'Sun Bell' sweet peppers. Among the hot chilies, 'Habañero' does especially well in pots.

SUMMER SQUASH. Try a compact bush type like 'Eight Ball' or 'Spacemiser' zucchini, or train a climbing kind like 'Tromboncino' or 'Zucchetta Rampicante' on a trellis.

TOMATOES. Grow a tomato plant in a cage or train it up a trellis set in the container. Allow the plant to produce from one to three strong vertical leaders, tying them to the support as they climb. We've had good luck with the slicer type 'Black Krim', cherry types including 'Sun Gold' and 'Sweet Million', and the bush-type 'Roma' paste tomato.

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