Growing vegetables in containers on a balcony or deck allows you to enjoy fresh vegetables even if you don't have space for a more traditional garden. You can move container-grown plants to take advantage of the best sunlight and can better control the amount of fertilizer and water they receive. It's also easier to protect vegetables growing in pots from predators such as deer and rabbits. Many types of vegetables are well-adapted to growing in pots.
Tomatoes are a favorite of home gardeners and do well in pots. Choose a large container such as a 5-gallon bucket and provide adequate drainage. Give each tomato plant its own container and provide support in the form of stakes or a tomato cage as the plant matures. Tomatoes need at least six hours of sunlight each day to bear fruit, and need lots of water. Since pots can dry out quickly, you may need to water daily during the hottest months. Tomatoes need regular feeding to produce their best.
Like tomatoes, peppers do well in containers. Choose sweet varieties such as banana or bell, or grow hot peppers such as chilis, jalepenos or habaneros. Peppers don't need staking, but they should be watered regularly and fed a fertilizer designed for vegetables.
Lettuce, kale, collards and chard grow well in containers in the cooler months of the year. You can plant seeds of these greens directly in the soil in the container of your choice, as soon as the danger of a hard freeze has passed. Greens grow rapidly and have shallow roots, so you can plant them in pots as little as 6 inches deep. Move the pots into a shady area as days warm to extend the growing season.
Broccoli and its relatives, brussels sprouts and cauliflower, grow well in containers if you provide plenty of water and fertilizer. Choose a larger container to allow for deep root development. These plants can be heavy feeders, so fertilize regularly. Monitor the plants for pests such as cabbage worms. Most of the time you can simply pick off the offending bugs.
Squash have deep roots and require lots of water, so choose a deep pot and one that allows room for this trailing plant to sprawl. A 5-gallon bucket is a good container for squash. Squash need to be pollinated to produce, so either plant several squash and arrange the pots close together, or use a small paintbrush to transfer pollen between the blossoms.
Containers eliminate the need for digging potatoes. When the potatoes are ready, simply dump the contents of the pot onto the ground and pick out the potatoes. Choose a very deep, tall pot. Start with 12 inches of soil in the bottom of the pot. Lay your seed potatoes on top of the soil and cover with another couple of inches of soil. When the resulting plants are about 6 inches tall, add more soil, leaving only the top leaves above the soil. Continue this process, adding more soil as the plant grows, until the pot is full. Water regularly and feed an all-purpose fertilizer. When the tops die back in the fall, your potatoes are ready.