For the urban gardeners, cultivating crops often means using containers and window boxes along apartment balconies or small rooftop plots. This means that urban gardeners often seek plants that will grow well in containers as well as produce an abundant supply of produce. Choosing plants that bear throughout the growing season and can be used in many different ways is ideal for gardeners wanting to make the most of a small space.
Basil is an easy and rewarding herb that is often grown in containers. According to the West Virginia University Extension, basil grows as large as 18 inches with broad green leaves. There are many different types of basil plants, including Thai varieties as well as purple leafed plants. However, the type of basil most commonly grown in gardens across the United States is sweet basil, the typical basil used in pesto and other basil dishes. This herb is native to India yet is closely associated with Italian cuisine. It is often paired with tomato dishes, but can be used in soups as well as many other dishes. Basil is ideal for containers and nontraditional garden space because it adapts easily to a wide variety of soil conditions. To keep the plant compact, WVU recommends pinching the stems back.
Tomatoes are a staple in gardens big and small. In addition to bearing fruit rich in vitamins A and C, tomatoes are easily adaptable and will produce all season long. Tomatoes can be grown in a variety of garden spaces, including containers and window boxes. Because tomatoes have a tendency to vine they are also popular for hanging baskets. For hanging baskets and window boxes, choose smaller tomatoes, such as the Roma variety, or cherry tomatoes, such as Sweet 100, because the fruit will not break off the vines. However, larger more traditional tomatoes are grown in traditional containers with support from stakes.
Strawberries are exceptional nontraditional garden plants. They grow well in compact spaces and provide attractive green foliage and small white flowers in addition to fruit. According to the University of Illinois Extension, normal strawberry plants only produce fruit in the spring. However, ever-bearing varieties produce throughout much of the summer. In addition UIE suggests using strawberry pots, a specific pot that has a series of holes along the sides that allows for several plants to be rooted within the same pot.