Growing vegetables in containers offers a great option for gardeners with limited ground space or poor soil. The best vegetables to grow in containers include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, leaf lettuce, onions and radishes. Make sure the plants receive at least 5 hours or more of full sun each day, and get ready to water the containers every day, especially on hot summer days.
Tomatoes need plenty of space to grow, so use 5 gallon containers. Varieties that grow well in containers include Tiny Tim, Pixie, Early Girl, Spring Giant and Small Fry. Most tomato plants come from nurseries as transplants, allowing gardeners to get a jump on the growing season with established plants. Transplant the tomatoes into the large container, planting one plant per container. Stake the plants using either a wire cage or wooden stakes gently tied to the plants. The support helps the tomatoes grow up and branch out so more fruit appears on the plant. Tomato plants require full sun with the juicy fruits maturing within 90 to 130 days depending on the type planted.
A variety of peppers grow well in containers, including Canape, Yolo Wonder, Keystone Resistant Giant, Hot Red Cherry and Jalapeno. Pepper plants grow from transplants bought at the nursery, or you can plant them as seeds. Plant seeds at least four to eight weeks prior to the date you plan to transplant them into the larger containers. Once the seedlings sport two to three sets of leaves, they're ready for transplanting to the large container. Move the containers into a sunny location, and within 90 to 120 days, enjoy tasty, crisp peppers.
A medium-sized container or window box works well for planting leaf lettuce. Most gardeners plant lettuce from seeds, then transplant the young plants three to four weeks later in the permanent containers. Lettuce varieties that thrive in containers include Buttercrunch, Salad Bowl, Romaine, Ruby, Bibb and Dark Green Boston. Lettuce grows in partial shade with the first leaves available for eating from 40 to 60 days from the date of seeding.
Not all cucumbers grow well in containers because of their vining habits. But varieties such as Burpless, Liberty, Early Pik, Crispy and Spacemaster thrive in containers. Plant cucumbers as transplants bought at the nursery or use seeds to start your own plants. If grown from seeds, transplant the small plants, one to a large 5-gallon container, three to four weeks after seeding. Add a wire cage to provide support for the plants so they spread out and produce more fruit. The first cucumbers mature between 50 to 70 days after seeding.