Some veggies are more suitable than others for container gardening
Lauren Bonar Swezey
August 6, 2004
Any vegetable that grows in the ground can be grown in a container. But some crops, such as corn and pumpkins, may not be worth the effort. You don’t have to stick with so-called patio (dwarf) varieties. Most standard-size vegetables are suitable for container culture. For beans and carrots, plan to sow seeds directly in the soil-filled container. Grow other types of vegetables from seed, or purchase ready-to-plant s. Eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes started from seed take about eight weeks to develop seedlings ready for transplanting.
Soil temperature (at planting time): At least 60°.
Spacing: Direct-sow seeds 2-3 in. apart.
Pole beans are more productive over the long run than bush beans (which produce their crop all at once). Train the 6- to 8-ft.-tall vines on a trellis or tepee made from bamboo poles. Try ‘Blue Lake Pole’, ‘Helda’ romano, or heirloom ‘Kentucky Wonder’.
Spacing: Direct-sow seeds 1/2-1 in. apart; thin seedlings 1-2 in. apart.
Choose a deep pot for carrots with long roots, such as ‘Nantes’ half-long type (7 in. long). Shallower pots are adequate for shorter carrots such as ‘Short ‘n Sweet’ or round ones like ‘Thumbelina’ (shown). Don’t let the soil dry out.
With their colorful fruits and attractive foliage, eggplants have outstanding ornamental value. Try ‘Black Beauty’, an American heirloom with bulbous, purple-black fruits, or ‘Little Fingers’ (shown), an Asian type with slim fruits.
Isa Foltin / Getty Images
Bell peppers are sweet and brightly flavored, with a refreshingly crisp texture when raw and a lusciously soft texture when cooked.
Quick idea No. 1: Sauté minced garlic and diced onion in olive oil. Add chopped bell peppers, tomatoes, and basil. Cook on low heat until the mixture is thickened and reduced by half. Serve over tofu, chicken, omelets, or toast.
Quick idea No. 2: Cut tops off peppers and seed them. Stuff with cooked bulgur, crumbled tofu, sautéed garlic and onion, olive oil, parsley, tomato, and mint. Bake until peppers are softened.
Choose from an amazing array of colors, shapes, and heat levels, from mildly spicy ‘Anaheim’ to searing hot ‘Thai Dragon’. Among sweet peppers, try ‘Ariane’ (shown), an orange bell, or ‘Giant Marconi’, a long, red one that’s great for grilling.
Potatoes are productive if there’s ample room for tubers to develop. Bury seed potatoes in an 8-in. layer of soil at the bottom of the pot. As plants grow, pile more soil up to the top set of leaves. Try small- to medium-size ‘All Blue’, ‘Red Pontiac’, or ‘Yukon Gold’.
Use small wire cages or stakes to support determinate types (2- to 3-ft.-tall varieties that produce their crop all at once); try ‘Bush Celebrity’. Use sturdy 5-ft.-tall cages for indeterminate types (tall kinds that produce fruits all season) such as ‘Early Girl’ (shown).