The term "mini-squash" can be confusing because there are a few hybrid varieties bred to stay fairly small in size and weight and there also are varieties that can simply be picked when they are still tiny, although their flavor, texture and appearance are fully developed. Most summer squash varieties such as the yellow crookneck squash, zucchini and many of the scalloped-edge pattypan hybrids can be picked when they are still tiny and they will be tasty and fully edible.
Choosing Your Squash Type(s)
Squash, whether soft-skinned summer varieties or hard-shelled fall and winter types, are great choices for container gardening. Choosing a variety and a container carefully will augment your chances of success and, besides reaping fresh produce for the kitchen, squash plants offer lovely foliage and beautiful flowers to enhance a garden, patio or balcony area.
Some squash plant varieties maintain a fairly upright shape while others trail and produce vines. While the trailings make for lovely draping over a pot edge, the weight of the actual squash produced can create a dilemma both in look and practicality; if the vegetable is too big or heavy, it can actually cause a vine that's hanging to snap from the weight.
Mini-squash specifically bred for tiny size--some examples include the honey bear winter squash, the Jack Be Little pumpkin and almost all varieties of pattypan summer squashes--are great choices as are almost all varieties of zucchini and yellow crookneck squashes they produce fruit fairly close to the primary plant. A mix of upright and slightly trailing squash varieties make for an eye-pleasing container.
Choosing Your Container
The choice of container is infinite--glazed pot, whiskey barrel, clay pot, coffee can. But all containers will need adequate drainage and the actual container will need to be placed in a locale that offers full sun for the squash to ripen. Almost all squash grown in a container will require 6- to 8-inch minimum root depth and room for trailing varieties such as delicata, spaghetti and acorn to expand beyond the container itself.
Choosing Starter Plants Seed
Most nurseries and warehouse stores offer seedling plants or squash starts of favorite varieties such as zucchini and crookneck. Typically offered in packs of two, four or six, vegetable starts offer a quick way to get a container garden going quickly. Seedlings or starter plants of more exotic varieties of squash, including heirloom types, can often be found at larger farmers markets and there are dozens of squash varieties available if you are willing to grow from seed.