potting plant with sage

Container Gardening

Top crops for pots... ha ha ha!!

Vegetables in Containers

No ground to garden? Grow summer veggies on the patio... then you can pick 'em as you're coming or going!!

Growing vegetables has been known to bring out the farmer in folks. You till the soil and tend the plants, then reap the rewards when the plants bear fruit.

Even if you don't have much gardening space or sunny ground, you can still experience the pleasure of harvesting your own vine-ripened tomatoes and other crops. All you need is a generous-size container, good potting soil, and a patio, deck, or corner that gets at least six hours of full sun a day.

Here are the top crops for pots, and how to grow them.

Beans

Carrots

Cucumbers

Eggplant

Peppers

Potato

Squash

Tomato

Growing Beans in Containers

Pot depth: 14-16 in. 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'.

Growing Carrots in Containers

Pot depth: 9-14 in.

Soil temperature: At least 55°.

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.

Growing Cucumbers in Containers

Pot depth: 18 in.

Soil temperature: At least 70°.

Spacing: One plant per pot.

Bush types like 'Bush Champion' and disease-resistant 'Salad Bush' take up half the space of trailing types. 'Lemon' cuke (shown) also bears well on a trellis.

Growing Eggplant in Containers

Pot depth: 14-16 in.

Soil temperature: At least 70°.

Spacing: One or two plants per pot.

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.

Growing Peppers in Containers

Pot depth: 14-16 in.

Soil temperature: At least 60°.

Spacing: One or two plants per pot.

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.

Yes you can Grow Potatoes in Containers

Pot depth: 18 in.

Soil temperature: At least 45°.

Spacing: Plant tubers 6 in. apart.

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'

Growing Squash in Containers

Pot depth: 18 in.

Soil temperature: At least 60°.

Spacing: One plant per pot.

Summer squash is more productive than winter squash. Grow compact varieties like 'Gold Rush' yellow zucchini, 'Spacemiser' green zucchini, or 'Sunburst' scallopini (shown).

Grow Tomatoes in Containers

Pot depth: 18 in.

Soil temperature: At least 60°.

Spacing: One plant per pot.

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).

Choose the Right Container

Vegetables will grow in any container that provides drainage, but choosing the right size is critical. The larger the plant's root system, the deeper and wider the container should be. Pots made of thick plastic or glazed terra-cotta retain moisture well, as do wood tubs.

In hot climates, choose light-colored pots. Avoid small, unglazed terra-cotta pots; they dry out too quickly. Yet aNOTHER thing I learned in the desert!

SOURCES

Most nurseries and garden centers sell seeds and seedlings of common summer vegetables. For unusual varieties and potato tubers, try these specialists.

The Natural Gardening Company (707/766-9303) sells certified organic seeds, potato tubers, and seedlings of eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes.

Seeds of Change (888/762-7333) sells certified organic seeds, potato tubers, and seedlings of peppers and tomatoes.

Territorial Seed Company (541/942-9547) sells seeds, potato tubers, and seedlings of eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes.

All of earth is crammed with heaven,
And every bush aflame with God.
But only those who see take off their shoes.
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
     

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