The best vegetables for container gardening
The best vegetables for container gardening are ones that are shallow-rooted and don’t spread out much. They are good companions, and can potentially grow vertically.
Container gardening is all about variety, and fitting things in that can be squeezed a bit, but still give you a full yield. I like to mix vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers. attracting pollinators and allowing for some natural pest control. All the benefits of a full garden, just in a tiny space.
We’ll begin below by examining the specific vegetables and then will also talk about the many container garden options we have in terms of vessels. That means, how much can we fit into one pot, a barrel, a 2’x3′ raised bed, or perhaps just a windowsill.
What are the best vegetables to grow in a small space?
- Bunching onions
- Parsley and cilantro
- Swiss chard
- Pole beans
Each of the above plants grows fairly well in a pot because as mentioned, they have shallow roots, and don’t take up much soil space. Kale for example can get quite tall, but the base of the plant is small, so that’s a great plant to have at the back or center of your small space.
Peas have a very tiny spread when it comes to their space in the soil, and they can climb! These are great to wrap up a stake or pole, growing well beside lettuce and parsley.
To add some color and attract pollinators, pansies and calendula are great options for container gardens. Calendula is edible, medicinal, and can repel some insects.
While I do recommend shying away from root veggies, radishes are shallow and fast-growing vegetables that you can sneak into a container garden well. French breakfast radishes in particular, being more oblong are a great fit.
The above list is not conclusive, but I hope that you’ll be expanded into thinking that you have more plant options than you may realize.
Some very fun tiny container gardens are indoor herb gardens – I even made one for Well+Good once here!
Different Types Of Container Gardens & What To Look For
Of course, there are endless containers that you can use for your small garden adventure. The most famous being pots, wine barrels, small garden boxes, and perhaps dresser drawers thanks to Ron Finley.
The basic principle that you’ll need to know and employ is that of how much space each plant needs. I always squish mine closer together than any book will tell you. However, this is something you’ll learn or can Google if you must.
Soil for container gardens
The beset soil that I’ve found is high quality potting soil. I like the Fox Farm brand because it has great compost materials in it. If you have potting soil laying around that you’re not sure of, but want to use, try adding worm castings and some compost to freshen it up. Just be sure that your soil does have some perlite (the little white gritty pieces in potting soil) and vermiculite in it to help things drain well and get good airflow.
In one square foot, with the above container garden plant list, you can fit about 4-5 plants. So, a pot that is 12″ in diameter can host five plants giving you such a fun mix.
When it comes to depth, a minimum of 12″ is preferred, but 18″ is ideal in my opinion. You want to make sure that your container has drainage holes and I also recommend a little screen at the base of your pot, as well as a small layer of rock that helps the soil not compact and disallow water and airflow. I’d say in a 12″ pot, about 2″ be rock at the base.
I installed a 2 foot by 3 foot garden in a raised bed in Venice and we fit 21 plants in there! It was amazing and so doable – my client was making green goddess dressing, pico de gallo, and all the things with her tiny perfect little garden box.
Feel free to get creative with your container garden, and truly do not worry much about the actual vessel. My parents use old peach buckets that they hang off their porch, and I see people repurposing old wheelbarrows and the like – you could seriously grow lettuce out of an old tophat – and actually, I think that’d be quite cute!
How to Arrange Your Plants in a Container Garden
Arranging and placing your plants in a container garden will depend on what you’re growing in and where you’re placing it. The great news is that many container gardens are mobile! So you can move them around based on sunlight. I recently created an edible arrangement in some large urn-style pots that I have in the middle of my backyard, so I followed the classic method of “thriller, filler, spiller”. The tallest plants being my thriller (kale), the medium-height and bushier plants being my fillers, and some nasturtium as my spiller. You know I can’t avoid using nasturtium as much as possible.
If you have a container that is against a wall, then I recommend your tall plants in the back and fillers in the front or at an edge that they can spill over. I also like to place colorful things throughout the mid-section of an arrangement (even a planted arrangement) to create some dimension and depth.
I hope this encourages you to get out and start growing even the tiniest of gardens. There is so much fun to be had and so many yummy veggies and herbs to grow! If you have any questions at all, leave them in the comments.