A well-tended container garden can provide a gardener with a full and bountiful harvest beyond tomatoes and other simple salad vegetables. While just about any vegetable can be grown in a container, there are some plants more suited to pots than others. Choosing the right plants will help to ensure a successful harvest.
The edible nightshade family contains some of the most popular home garden vegetables, and the ones best suited for containers: tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. A single plant can thrive in a 14- or 16-inch diameter pot, or 5 gallon bucket. A large barrel planter can house three plants if well cared for. Even if all you have available is a hanging basket, you can enjoy an ample harvest of cherry tomatoes and chili peppers.
Cucumber and Summer Squash
Fairly similar in growing requirements, cucumber and summer squash, such as yellow squash or zucchini, are perfectly suited for container growing because they don't require a great deal of space. A square foot of soil will suffice for a single plant. Sow directly into containers because these plants of the cucurbit family do not like being transplanted. Provide each plant with a tomato cage for climbing vines.
If you thought you couldn't grow root crops in a container garden, think again. Look for rectangular or square pots that are at minimum 12 inches wide and 14 to 16 inches deep. Alternately, convert large plastic storage containers by drilling drainage holes on the bottom. Choose varieties that grow less than 8 inches long, such as carrots, parsnips and radishes. Even if you only have a large window box, you can raise 3-inch long baby carrots. Plant in succession every 10 to 14 days for a continuous harvest.
Corn is another crop that most container gardeners automatically bypass, thinking it impossible. Large tub planters, such as half-barrel planters, make it possible to grow four or five stalks of corn in the container garden. Space the seeds approximately 4 inches from the edge of the planter in a circle. Alternately, use a 12-inch deep cheap plastic wading pool with sufficient drainage holes drilled in the bottom for a miniature corn field. Corn requires a lot of feeding and watering, but is otherwise low-maintenance. Corn stalks are not high-yielding plants, but having a few ears can be satisfying.
Loose-leaf lettuce, cress, mustard and spinach are just a few of the leafy-green plants that require shallow planters and only a few inches of space. A large window box or a few 8-inch plastic pots are all you need to have a bumper crop. A plant stand with multiple tiers or open shelves can triple or or quadruple your growing space.