By Matt Gibson
Growing vegetables in containers is fun and easy, but many vegetables take a long time to mature. If you just can’t wait to see some results, check out this list of fast growing container vegetables. The majority of the following vegetables develop so quickly, they are ready for harvesting in as little as two months time.
Lettuce is one of the fastest and easiest garden vegetables to grow. Lettuce is an easy going plant that doesn’t get too fussy about its growing conditions. It also has a shallow root system, so it’s great for small shaded areas in the garden. Lettuce grows voraciously in the spring and fall in most climates. You can even start lettuce early in the season, as its seedlings can withstand light frosts. In the spring, lettuce can be started two weeks before the last frost and in the fall, you can start it eight weeks before the final frost date. Position your lettuce containers in partial shade and use a loamy, slightly acidic to neutral potting soil.
Arugula is not only a fast growing vegetable that is well suited to container growing, it seems to perform equally well in the spring and fall as it does in the summer. Though arugula is a cool season crop, it is also slow to bolt, so you can start your arugula plants early and enjoy it all throughout the growing season, starting it early in the spring and harvesting throughout the spring and summer. You can also plant it again in the fall to harvest throughout the fall and into winter until the first hard freeze. Place your arugula pots in full sun and use a standard potting soil with a neutral pH. Be sure to use a pot with sufficient drainage.
Well suited to containers, spinach is an easy to grow green leafy vegetable that grows well in both sunny and shady locations. Spinach is Spinach can even be grown indoors on a sunny windowsill. Select a container that is at least six to eight inches tall and fill it with a well-draining, humus-rich potting soil with a neutral pH. Plant spinach on the first day of spring and again in the fall. In warmer climates, spinach can even be grown during the winter. Spinach is one of the best sources of vitamins A, B, and C, and is also higher in iron and calcium than most of its leafy green cousins. Spinach and lettuce have very similar preferences and care instructions.
Beetroots are ready to harvest just 45 days after planting. Beet greens (which are often discarded even though they are packed with nutrients) can be harvested in just two to three weeks. Beets are a root vegetable, so it may come as a surprise to learn that they are well-suited to container gardening, or that they don’t even require especially large containers to develop sizable beets. However, beets don’t need as much space as you might think. In actuality, a single beet plant only needs a container that is at least six to eight inches deep. Place your beet containers in a bright, sunny location in slightly acidic to neutral soil. Beets prefer a loamy, sandy substrate. Beets will produce better roots in full sun, but they will tolerate partial sun as well.
Radishes are among the quickest growing vegetable crops and are well-suited to small pots (at least six inches deep) due to their shallow root system. Depending on the variety, radish harvests can be taken within 24-60 days after sowing. To enjoy fresh radishes throughout the growing season, plant new crops every two to three weeks. Place your radish containers in full sunlight in a loamy, sandy potting soil with a neutral pH. Keep your radish planters free of weeds and keep the soil moist through the entire growing season. Radishes need plenty of space to grow to full size, so unless you are using a container with a large surface area, plant only one radish plant per pot.
Bok choy is an excellent choice for a shady spot in the veggie garden. This plant doesn’t need a lot of sunlight to thrive and can grow well with only three to four hours of sunlight each day. Water regularly so that the soil remains moist at all times. Amend the soil by raking in some general purpose organic fertilizer along with a generous serving of well-rotted compost prior to planting. Do not feed during the season or use chemical fertilizers on Bok choy plants. Bok choy (and many other Asian greens) are perfect for container gardens on shady patios and porches. Place your bok choy containers in partial shade in a spot that gets between 3-5 hours of sunlight per day. Bok choy will survive in full sun, but it will thrive in partial shade. It especially enjoys a humus rich soil that is well-draining, and between 6.5 and 7.0 pH.
Peas are quick producers in the vegetable garden and they will grow well in pots. If you provide your pea plants with their ideal growing environment, they will produce harvestable crops within just two months of growth. Plant your peas first things in spring, as soon as the ground is workable. English peas, snow peas, and snap peas are all especially good fresh off the vine. They have a short growing season, but they are prolific producers during the spring. Place your pea containers in full sunlight locations in a very well draining potting soil that is made with lots of organic material. Treat the soil with bonemeal and wood ashes before planting. Provide a support or trellis for climbing and vining varieties.
Scallions can grow to a harvestable size between 60 and 120 days depending on the variety. You will have better luck planting scallions in soil in a small container than you will directly in water, especially if they are in a full sun location. Scallions prefer a rich, well draining, loamy or sandy substrate. Feed the soil with a high nitrogen feed, like fish emulsion. Scallions will grow up to three feet high if left in the ground to reach full maturity, but they are usually harvested well before they reach that size. Place your scallions in a full sun location and use a rich, sandy or loamy, fast draining potting mix.
These fast growing vegetables will all grow well in a container garden. They are all quite easy to grow, and they are all great producers that you will be able to harvest and put to use in the kitchen, saving you money on groceries, and adding a burst of rich, nutritious food to your daily diet. If you want to grow plants that are truly rewarding in a tangible sense, these are the first ones you should grow.