Vegetable gardens are a great way to get fresh, healthy food from your own backyard. What could be more fresh that picking a ripe heirloom tomato from your small apartment garden, slicing it up and eating it on a sandwich… all within five minutes of picking it! Growing great organic vegetables is easy and very rewarding. Once you take a bite into a freshly picked vegetable from your own vegetable garden, you’ll know that your work throughout the growing season was worth it.
Many vegetables will grow in apartment vegetable gardens. Some vegetables require a lot of space or large plant containers (or they can be grown in sturdy plastic bags), but many vegetables can be grown in smaller containers. Below are 10 of the best container plants for small vegetable gardens. Click on the vegetable’s name to learn more about the plant’s care needs. To learn about more plants that thrive in containers, peruse BalconyContainerGardening.com’s Plant Fact Sheets.
1. Beans. Beans are one of the easiest plants to grow in small vegetable gardens. It grows very fast and climbs up a support pole or trellis, which you’ll need to provide it. Beans are ready to harvest from seven to 13 weeks after planting. Watch out for pests. Cabbage looper caterpillars will eat your beans within days if you let them!
2. Beets. Not only are all parts of the beet edible, its attractive foliage (some varieties have red foliage) brings beauty to vegetable gardens. Beet plant care is easy: Use a deep plant container (more than 1 foot deep) and use a beet variety that does well in containers, such as ‘Mini Ball’ or ‘Baby Bal.’
3. Carrots. Almost everyone loves carrots, so they are a perfect candidate for small-space vegetable gardens. Plant carrots in cooler weather (between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit) and use a 1-foot-deep (or deeper) plant container. Smaller varieties grow best in containers, including Parmex, Oxheart or Little Finger.
4. Peppers. Peppers are great for container vegetable gardens because they stay small and still produce great-tasting, fresh food. Japaleno peppers and bell peppers grow well as potted plants in 3-gallon plant pots, so they don’t take up much space in small vegetable gardens.
5. Lettuce. Lettuce varieties that grow best in container vegetable gardens black-seeded Simpson, red sails, salad bowl, Tom Thumb, green ice and little gem. Harvest the outside lettuce leaves from vegetable gardens as you use them, or harvest the whole lettuce head at once. For the best taste, pick your lettuce right before you eat it for freshness and best taste, harvest it before it begins producing seeds.
6. Potatoes. Easy and delicious, the potato is the perfect food for small vegetable gardens. If given light and a large enough place to grow, you should have a few tasty potatoes in just four to eight weeks. Grow potato plants in large, deep plant containers, a durable plastic tub or even a large, sturdy bag. Potatoes, unfortunately, will attract many insect pests (such as aphids and tomato hornworm caterpillars) to vegetable gardens. And many diseases will kill the potato plant off or make them inedible.
7. Radishes. Radishes are so easy to grow and mature so quickly that they are great for impatient gardeners. With more than 250 varieties, there is a flavor, color and size to fit all vegetable gardens.
8. Spinach. Spinach is a nutritious, cool-weather plant that will give you food within 40 to 45 days after planting in vegetable gardens. Spinach is a great plant for shade and grows best in cooler weather.
9. Swiss Chard. Often grown as an ornamental plant, Swiss chard is also a great food to grow in vegetable gardens. Chard varieties can have red, pink, yellow or orange stems (but you will want to eat the ones with white stems). Swiss chard is one of the healthiest vegetables you can grow in vegetable gardens. It provides vitamins A, C and K, minerals, fiber and protein.
10. Tomatoes. Tomatoes are probably the favorite plant to grow in vegetable gardens. There are so many heirloom varieties that you could grow a different type every year for the rest of your life. After you’ve picked one of your own tomatoes straight from your vegetable garden, you’ll never look at a grocery store tomato in the same way again!