Imagine sitting down for a picnic lunch and having your entire salad growing fresh in a container on the table. This is the idea behind tabletop vegetable gardens. These attractive planters are filled with a variety of small vegetable plants arranged in an eye-catching design. Tabletop gardens can look like a miniature garden plot in a dish and are often used as permanent centerpieces on patio and porch tables.
Investigate seed catalogs to find the smallest versions of your vegetables. Seed growers have developed dozens of very small plant varieties specifically for container and tabletop gardens. Choose tomatoes like Pixie, Patio or Tiny Tim for the smallest vines. Add smaller radishes like Cherry Belle or Scarlet Globe. Leaf lettuce is a useful addition that doesn't take too much room and can add a nice crunchy flavor to summer salads. Finish your selection off with something decorative like carrot, with its small size and lacy frond leaves.
Place a 2-inch layer of gravel in the bottom of your planting container. This helps the soil to drain and prevents water pooling in the bottom of your soil, which can cause root rot.
Add fresh potting soil to the planter on top of the gravel. Fill your planter until the level of the soil is 1 inch below the rim of the pot. This allows water to pool and soak into the soil rather than running off the edge.
Plant your seedlings with an eye towards how large the plants will eventually get. Place the largest plant in the center of the container, if the planter will be in the middle of a table. Put large plants in the rear if the planter will be against a wall. Arrange the other plant varieties in the container in descending size, going toward the outside.
Fill in the spaces in your container with small radish seeds, to take advantage of growing space before your main plants get larger. Radishes can be grown and harvested in about a month, so they won't interfere with the main crops you are growing.
Water your container garden with water-soluble fertilizer. Use this every two weeks on your planter to keep your vegetables growing at a healthy pace.