By Matt Gibson
There are many people that would love to start a vegetable garden but simply don’t have the outdoor space to do it. These days, many people live in apartments and high rises and simply don’t have any outdoor space to work with for gardening. Luckily, gardeners are no longer relegated to building raised beds or starting in-ground gardens, and there are a wide variety of vegetables that are well-suited to container gardening.
Growing vegetables in containers gives you the option of creating a vegetable garden on your balcony or patio, or even indoors near a sunny window. Keeping your vegetables in containers also allows gardeners the freedom of being able to pull their crops indoors when the weather gets too cold.
Just about every vegetable that you could ever want to grow outdoors in a garden can also be grown in a container garden on your balcony, and your vegetables will thrive in containers as well, as long as you provide the proper growing conditions and care, and select a container that is large enough to house the plant comfortably, and allows plenty of space for its roots to expand as it matures.
In this article, we’ll tell you which vegetables are great for growing in pots in a balcony or patio garden setup, go over each vegetables basic growing preferences, highlight the best varieties of each vegetable for container gardening, and finally, we’ll give a few tips and pointers about starting your own balcony vegetable garden.
8 Vegetables That Are Perfect For Containers And Balcony Gardens
Tomatoes are some of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers. As long as you have a location that receives at least five to six hours of sunlight per day, you can grow tomatoes in your balcony container garden with ease. If you have limited space, try growing a dwarf variety, or cherry tomatoes instead of one of the larger tomato varieties. Tomato varieties that are well suited to container gardening include Patio Princess, BushSteak, Sweetheart of the Patio, Tumbler, and Glacier.
For more on how to grow tomatoes in containers, click here.
Pole beans and bush beans are both well-suited to container gardens. All you need is a spot that gets lots of sunlight, a pot that is at least one foot deep, and a trellis-like structure for the vines to grow on (for climbing varieties), and you can expect to see a good crop of beans that are ready to harvest within just a few short weeks. Good bush bean varieties to grow in containers include Bush Blue Lake, or Contender. For pole beans which are well-suited to containers, try Cherokee Trail of Tears. For green bean varieties that grow well in pots, try out Mascotte Green Beans.
Aside from tomatoes and radishes, peppers are the easiest vegetable to grow in containers, and they are voracious producers as well. You will need to provide a large, deep pot, preferably at least one foot deep for ideal growth. Keep your peppers in full sun and start providing fertilizer when the plant flowers until it is done producing fruit. The best pepper plants for containers are Jalapeno, Yellow Spice Jalapeno, Early Jalapeno, Shishito, Poblano, Bolivian Rainbow, Numex Twilight, Fushimi, and Devil’s Tongue peppers.
To learn more about growing hot or sweet pepper plants in containers, click here.
Radishes are super fast growers and perfect vegetables for container gardening. They even grow well in small containers. Use a container that is at least six inches deep for small radish varieties, and at least 10 inches deep for larger varieties. If you are planting radishes in a wide container with lots of surface space, you can grow more than one radish plant per container. Just space each plant out at least two inches to give each plant plenty of room to grow into. Depending on the variety, you should be ready to harvest your radishes between 24 and 60 days from planting. Just about any radish variety aside from the extremely large cultivars, are perfect for containers.
To learn more about growing radishes, click here.
Carrots are easy to grow in containers as long as you select the right varieties. You want to pick carrots that are short instead of the standard carrot types, as the standard carrot varieties need more room for their roots to grow. Also, make sure to select a container that is deep enough to support their long taproots. Avoid overwatering and keep foliage dry to avoid issues with mildew. The best carrot varieties for pots are Romeo, Tonda di Parigi, and Little Finger.
For more on how to grow carrots in containers, click here.
Pretty much all varieties of peas are good for container gardening, but dwarf varieties and bush varieties are preferred, especially if you are limited on space for your vegetable garden. Peas enjoy moist soil and cool weather and containers that are six to 12 inches deep depending on the cultivar. If your container is at least one foot in diameter, you can fit four to six pea plants in it comfortably. The best peas for container gardening are Peas-in-a-Pot, Tom Thumb, Snowbird, and Little SnapPea Crunch.
To learn more about growing peas, click here.
Eggplants are fairly large vegetables, but as long as you provide at least a five gallon pot that is wide enough to provide plenty of room for each eggplant you grow, they will perform very well in pots on your balcony. Eggplants require six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day and regular fertilization. Eggplant plants require support when they start producing fruit, so make sure to remember to provide stakes or cages to help support the weight of the heavy eggplant fruits. The best varieties of eggplant for container gardening are Fairy Tale, Bambino, Crescent Moon, Hansel, and Gretel.
To learn more about growing eggplants, click here.
Beets are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers. They don’t need especially large pots, and they are extremely fast growing vegetables. Select a container that is at least eight to ten inches deep and make sure to use a very-well draining, compost-rich soil. The best beet varieties for container gardening are Bull’s Blood, Detroit Dark Red, and Early Wonder.
To learn more about growing beets in pots, click here.
Tips for Growing Vegetables in Pots On Your Balcony
- Do not use soil from the ground when growing in containers, as it is typically heavy and may cause drainage issues, and it may contain pests or soil-borne diseases that could hurt your crops. Instead, use potting soil, preferably potting soil that is specifically formulated for vegetables. A top of the line, organic potting soil is ideal, and feel free to mix in some well-rotted compost, or worm castings to increase the organic matter and improve water retention and drainage.
- Make sure that your balcony gets plenty of sunlight, as the majority of vegetables and herbs enjoy at least eight hours of sunlight per day. If your balcony or patio area doesn’t get that much sun, you will need to adjust what you are growing in that area. A handful of root vegetables, like carrots and radishes, as well as leafy greens like lettuce, chard, and kale, only need four to six hours of sunlight to thrive. Look for a spot on the porch, deck, or driveway area that does get eight hours of sun for your other vegetables and herbs that thrive in full sun conditions.
- Make sure that you have a water source nearby, as vegetables are very thirsty plants and they will need a lot of water during the growing season to develop plenty of fruit for harvests. Having a water source nearby will keep you from having to lug watering cans full of water for long distances to keep your plants hydrated.
- Take a look above the location where you are planning on keeping your containers for your vegetable garden and try to avoid placing them under the awning of your balcony or right up against the house. Making sure your plants have access to rainfall can cut a lot of work out of caring for your plants, as you won’t need to manually water them after a heavy rain, as long as they are in a position where they are receiving that rainfall whenever it comes along.
- Pick containers that are large enough to support the root systems of the plants that you are wanting to grow and large enough so that the plants have plenty of room to grow to full size without needing to be repotted. Make sure that the containers that you choose have ample drainage. Here is a quick guide to selecting the right size pots for the vegetables and herbs that you want to grow:
One to two gallon containers (for small plants) – Leafy greens like lettuce, kale, chard, collards, and spinach. Other plants that work for one to two gallon containers include grape and cherry tomatoes, kohlrabi, and individual herb plants.
Five to eight gallon containers (for medium plants) – Most brassicas fit into this size container, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, as well as medium-sized tomato plants, okra, and bush-style cucumber plants.
Eight to ten gallon containers (for large plants) – Most large vegetables will fit into these size containers, including peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, tomatillos, large tomatoes, and bush type winter squash varieties.
Ten to fifteen gallon containers (for extra large plants) – These extra large containers will suffice for individual plants of extra large tomatoes, winter squash, pumpkins, and artichokes.
- Good companion plants for pairing up veggies in extra large containers or for growing near to each other in separate containers:
- Plant beans with carrots and squash, or pair beans with eggplants.
- Plant tomatoes with basil, garlic, and onions.
- Pair lettuce with herb plants like basil, rosemary, and thyme.
- Plant spinach with chard and onions.
- Avoid planting these plants near one another, even in separate containers:
- Keep bean plants away from onion and garlic.
- Keep carrots away from dill or fennel.
- Don’t plant tomatoes near squash or potatoes.
- Don’t plant onions near beans or peas.
Starting your own vegetable garden on your balcony or patio space is fun and easy. Growing vegetables in containers can be nearly as prolific as growing them directly in the ground, and container gardening can drastically reduce issues with pests and soil-borne diseases. If you have a balcony or patio with ample space and plenty of sunlight, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start your own container garden today.