If you don’t have backyard space to plant vegetables you can easily grow them in pots. All you need are plant containers, potting soil, plant food, seeds or seedlings, and a little care. One of the most important things is choosing plants that are small enough to fit containers and that are easy to grow.  If you don’t have time to start plants from seeds, you can buy young plants and transplant them,  Make sure to check the label on seed packets and on young plants. It will tell you how much sun, water, space a plant needs, when to plant them and when to harvest.

You can add slow-release organic plant food and add it to the potting soil.  You can also use potting soil that contains plant food like compost and Miraclegro. In general I like to use a 14-inch wide pot for bushy plants like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers.  Carrots and radish need a depth of at least 10 inches to grow.  The leafy vegetables need a wider space of about 8-10 inches. If you see weeds, pull them out as they compete for nutrients and moisture with the plant.

Here are my top 10 vegetables that are easy to grow in pots:

Carrots

Plant carrots in early spring or fall.  You can sow seeds directly on the pot.  Use compost to amend the potting soil.  When seeds have sprouted, thin them to 2 inches apart.  Give them plenty of sun and keep the soil evenly moist.  If your potting soil does not have slow-release fertilizer in it, you can fertilize when the carrots are about 3 inches tall.  In 70-90 days the carrots are ready to harvest when they are about 1/2 inch thick and the color is bright.

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Salad Mixed Greens

Salad greens

Growing a mixed green salad garden is easy and quick. They do well in a pot because they like well-drained soil. Plant seeds or young plants in the spring. They need at least 6 hours of sun and regular watering.  This mixed greens container can be placed just outside your kitchen where you can easily snip off the leaves as you need them. It is best to harvest them while they are a few inches tall for good flavor.

Tomatoes

Eggplant in a pot

In the summer what could be better than munching on ripe tomatoes plucked out of your own garden? Tomatoes are heat-loving plants so plant them after the last frost in March-April. I like to use Dr. Earth organic fertilizer to keep plants  growing.  Support them with a stake and as it grows tie the main stem to the stake.  In the summer they can easily dry out in containers so make sure they get a good soaking everyday when the weather gets too hot.  The best small varieties I have tried are Super 100, Patio Princess, Fresh Salsa, Bush Early Girl Hybrid, Green Grape, and Sungold.

Radishes

Radishes

Radishes come in different colors like gold, white, black and deep purple.  These plants prefer cool weather so plant them in a sunny spot in early spring and fall.  Choose the small rounded variety that can be harvested easily.  Sow seeds in the potting soil at least 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart.  Harvest as soon as the harvest date on the seed packet.  If they overripen, they can become hollow inside.

Spinach

Spinach

Plant spinach in the cool of spring and fall. If the days get too warm, they can easily flower. You can plant seeds directly in the pot and make sure it gets full sun and regular watering.  As they grow bigger thin them out 3 inches apart.  When you see 6-8 leaves, it’s ready to harvest.  Cut off or pinch leaves on the outer side as you need them.

Swiss Chard

swiss chard

If you like spinach, you are going to like Swiss Chard.  It is a very attractive and leafy green vegetable popular in Mediterranean cooking. They have big glossy leaves and reddish-purple stems and veins. It is one of the most nutritious foods  because it contains antioxidants that regulate blood sugar. It is delicious sautéed with garlic and olive oil and in soups.  Try the very colorful variety “Rainbow Swiss Chard”.

Herbs

HerbsI can’t imagine cooking without herbs. The most commonly used to enhance flavor in food are parsley, basil, thyme, mint, oregano, sage, chives, cilantro and tarragon. Most herbs grow with very little care and they don’t need a very rich soil. Buy young plants or seeds.  You can mix young plants of smaller herbs like basil, chives, cilantro, mint, parsley and thyme.  Other herbs like rosemary, sage, tarragon, marjoram and oregano can be bushy so plant them individually.  Herbs prefer moderate moisture, light and well-drained soil.

Eggplant

eggplant

Eggplant is delicious grilled, in a creamy dip, or sautéed with tomatoes and zucchini.  It requires warm 70 degrees days to grow like tomatoes. Look for smaller fruit varieties.  Buy young plants and set them out in a sunny location.  Add slow-release fertilizer to the potting soil when you plant them. Harvest after 60-95 days when fruit is glossy and firm.

Peppers

Pepper in a pot

Sweet or spicy peppers thrive in containers.  They prefer a sunny location, enough moisture, and protection from windy conditions.  The sweet varieties like bell pepper prefer 70-75 degree temperatures.  The spicy pepper varieties prefer it slightly warmer, between 70-85 degrees.  Buy young plants and plant them in containers in spring after the last frost.  Keep soil evenly moist and get rid of weeds.  When leaves turn yellow, it’s time to harvest.

Zucchini

zucchini

Zucchini can grow happily in a potting soil with compost.  Pick the bush kind when planting. A 14-inch pot with a depth of 13 inches will be perfect for zucchini. Plant seeds or your plants in early spring when soil temperature is at least 60 degrees.  Zucchini needs a lot of space, so plant one single young plant in one container.  Add slow-release fertilizer in the potting soil, water it regularly and place it in a sunny spot. Avoid watering the leaves, stems or flowers.  They tend to be susceptible to mildew.  Harvest fruit when they are 4-6 inches long. They can be tough if they get bigger.

So there you have it, you can easily grow a lot of vegetables in pots as long as you choose the right varieties and make sure they get enough sun, water, and plant food.  You will enjoy the fruits of your labor come harvest time.