Having a small garden or limited time should not keep you from growing vegetables. Place pots on a sunny balcony, patio, windowsill or even your doorstep. Container gardening has the advantages of minimal weeding, few soil-borne diseases or pests, and the convenience of fresh food close at hand. Many vegetables will grow in containers if given at least six hours of sun each day, frequent watering and a steady supply of nutrients.
Tomatoes, from small, cherry varieties to full-sized slicers, can be grow in large containers. A single cherry tomato plant needs a pot that is at least 1 gallon; standard tomatoes need at least a 3-gallon pot per plant. Either seeds or transplants will thrive. Iowa State University Extension recommends standard varieties like 'Jetstar,' 'Super Bush' and 'Celebrity' and small varieties like 'Patio' or 'Pixie.'
Cucumbers require a pot with a minimum of 12 inches diameter. Cucumbers need lots of water to produce their water-filled fruits, so use a plastic pot to keep the soil moist longer than a clay pot. Plant seeds instead of transplants; cucumbers do not like to be moved once they begin to grow. Texas A&M University Extension recommends the 'Burpless,' 'Salty,' 'Crispy,' 'Early Pik' and 'Liberty' varieties.
Lettuce may be the easiest vegetable to grow in a pot. This salad favorite is shallow rooted, so it can use a smaller container. A pot with a minimum diameter of 6 inches is recommended by Don Janssen of the University of Nebraska Extension. Sow seeds fairly thickly in your pot, then thin as the seedlings grow. Lettuce needs a lightweight soil mix that will not hold too much moisture. Texas A&M University Extension recommends the varieties 'Ruby,' 'Bibb,' 'Romaine,' 'Buttercrunch' and 'Salad Bowl' for growing in pots.
Eggplant and Bell Pepper
Growing eggplants is similar to growing bell peppers. Both need a long, warm season to grow well, and both should be placed into containers as transplants. Use a pot with at least a 10-inch diameter to give the vegetables room to grow. For eggplants, Texas A&M University Extension recommends the 'Long Tom,' 'Black Beauty' and 'Florida Market' varieties. For peppers, try 'Keystone Resistant Giant' or 'Yolo Wonder.'