6 Best Veg To Grow In Containers

Growing in posts is great, if you are short on space, time or experience. This is why I will tell you which are the 6 best veg to grow in containers.

If you want to grow your own fruit or veg, but are short on space, then growing in pots is the answer.

But there are other reasons why you might want to grow your veg in containers. And there are many benefits too.

That’s why in this article, I will tell you the 6 best veg to grow in containers. You will never look back!

Advantages Of Growing In Pots

Before we look at the 6 best veg to grow in containers, let’s have a look at the advantages.

While many people grow in pots, because they don’t have much space. But there are other reasons why you might want to consider it.

Space

If you have a small garden, then growing your veg in containers is a great solution. 

But even if you have no garden at all, or indeed no outside space, you can still grow veg in pots.

So, if you have a small courtyard rather than a big garden with beds, you don’t have to forgo homegrown fruit and vegetables.

Balconies, conservatories, light windowsills or outside your front door are all suitable for growing vegetables in pots. And hanging baskets can be mounted on brackets on any wall.

The best veg for growing in containers won’t take up too much space, so you don’t have to worry about losing a room or overshadowing your small garden or windowsill.

Time

growing in containers can save time

Because container gardening has a smaller scale, it will take less time to tend to your plants.

It’s also much easier to maintain plants in pots than in a bed, because you can keep a better overview.

Also, by growing plants in pots you don’t have to waste your time digging. And weeding also takes much less time, as you won’t have to do it very often.

By growing your veg in containers, you will also find that you have fewer issues with pests, which means you spend less time dealing with them.

That means growing veg in containers is less maintenance heavy than growing in them in a vegetable patch or an allotment.

Ideal For Beginners

This is also the reason why it’s a great way to get into vegetable growing.

If you have never done it before, it is easier to keep on top of it and learn as you go.

It’s also a great project to do with children, as they can take ownership of their own potted plant and care for it.

Kids will enjoy the experience and learn a lot from it too.

Mobility

Post can be moved fairly easily. So if a plant doesn’t do well, you can move it quickly to a more suitable environment.

And if you move house, you can take your veggies with you.

But container gardening is also good for people with reduced mobility or restricted movements. Because you can adjust the height of pots, containers and hanging baskets to suit your needs.

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6 Best Veg To Grow In Containers

seedlings in pots

Now that we have looked at the advantages, let’s get down to it and look which is the best veg to grow in containers.

1. Potatoes

In my opinion, potatoes are the best veg to grow in containers. I never grow them any other way.

Although potato plants do need some care, they are very easy to grow and are ideal for a beginner.

And homegrown potatoes just taste so much better than any that you can buy in the supermarket.

If you grow potatoes in containers, as with any veg you grow in pots, the container is key.

The container has to be big enough for the plant. I recommend at least a 40 litre container. These bags are ideal, because you can check on your potatoes to see if they are big enough before you harvest them.

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These reusable grow bags also have drainage holes, which is vital for growing any plant in a pot.

Here is how you grow potatoes in a container:

  • Start planting in March for first early varieties
  • Put a layer of compost in your container
  • Put 4-5 seed potatoes on the compost
  • Cover with a thick layer of compost
  • Give it a good soak
  • Choose a sunny spot for them

Keep watering the container regularly, making sure you have moist soil. 

After a week or so, you should see the first green tips coming through the compost. When the shoots are 5-10cm high (a few inches), cover them with more soil, only leaving the tip of the plants showing. 

Keep watering the potato plants regularly.

Continue to do that until the container is almost full. This process is called hilling up, and it prevents the potatoes from getting sunlight, which will turn them green and make them poisonous. 

Once you have finished hilling up, here is how you care for your potatoes:

  • Potatoes are a thirsty crop, so regular watering is key, especially on hot, dry days
  • Once flowers appear, feed with a potash-rich liquid feed once a week
  • When the foliage starts to turn brown, the potatoes are ready to harvest

To find out more about how to grow potatoes in containers, read our complete guide.

2. Carrots

There is no doubt that carrots can be grown well in containers. Show growers use this method (using barrels as large pots), proving that carrots are one of the best veg to grow in containers.

While all carrots will grow well in pots, there are varieties that will work well for smaller pots. So if you don’t have space for larger containers, choose shorter varieties, such as Chantenay.

Carrots grow best in deep containers. These reusable growing bags work a treat and give your carrots all the space they need.

These bags also have drainage holes, which will keep the soil moist without it getting waterlogged.

Here is how you grow carrots in a grow bag or pot:

  • Start sowing your carrot seeds in mid-April, when there is no more risk of frost – indoors you can start earlier
  • Fill your container full of compost – or a mix of sand and compost
  • Sow your seeds 2cm (3/4 of an inch) deep and leave about 2.5cm (1in) between them
  • Give them a good soak

After about two weeks you should see the first shoots to come up.

Once the seedlings have come up, you need to thin them out. You want one seedling every 2.5cm (1in) to make sure they have enough space to grow. 

Depending on your choice of container, you can sow them in a circle or a row.

Here is how you care for your carrots:

  • Water in very dry conditions, but carrots don’t need too much water – overwatering can lead to small carrots
  • After 10 -12 weeks your carrots will be ready to harvest – you will see the root poking out of the soil

Find out more about growing carrots in our step-by-step guide.

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3. Garlic

Garlic is not only healthy and delicious, but it’s also one of the best veg to grow in containers. 

They don’t need much space, which means you can get a good crop from just one pot.

In terms of containers, you need one that is at least 20cm (7in) deep. These 5 gallon grow bags work well.

You can plant 5 garlic cloves in a grow bag like this. Leave around 10cm (4in) of space around each. 

This will ensure that they have enough space to grow into good-sized bulbs.

Whichever container you choose, make sure it has drainage holes. It’s especially important with garlic, as too wet soil can cause the bulbs to rot.

Here is how you grow garlic in pots:

  • Put a layer of stones in your chosen pot or container – this will ensure the water can drain away quickly
  • Fill the pot almost full of compost
  • Plant the cloves in autumn or winter – there are varieties that are planted in spring, just check your packet
  • Plant each clove about 2.5cm (1in) deep
  • Give the pot a good soak
  • Place the pot in a sunny, sheltered spot

Over winter nothing much will happen, at least not above soil level. So don’t worry that something went wrong. You should see the first shoots in April.

Here is how to care for your garlic plants:

  • Water in dry spells, but don’t overwater your garlic, as this could cause the cloves and bulbs to rot
  • Once you see the first shoots, feed with nitrogen-high liquid feed
  • Keep your pot weed free
  • From June onwards you can start harvesting your garlic – it’s ready when the leaves have turned yellow

Find out more about growing garlic in pots in our complete guide.

4. Tomatoes

Growing Tomatoes in a Hanging Basket

No container vegetable garden should miss tomatoes, because homegrown tomatoes are just unbeatable.

And the good news is that tomatoes are amongst the best veg to grow in containers.

While all tomato varieties, like Tumbling Tom, can be grown in pots, the bushy varieties work better, because they don’t need supporting. 

Tomatoes can also be grown in hanging baskets. To find out more, read our complete guide about growing tomatoes in a hanging basket.

With tomatoes, you can grow them from seed or buy a more mature tomato plant, a so-called plug plant.

While growing tomatoes from seeds is more work and needs more time, it is more cost-effective as seeds are much cheaper than plug plants, and you normally get enough for more than one year.

As with all vegetable crops grown in containers, it is important that you choose the right pot or grow bag.

Any of the growing reusable growing bags mentioned above will work. You need at least a 30cm (12in) pot per tomato plant.

Here is how you grow tomatoes in pots:

  • Sow tomato seeds from February in small pots
  • Fill the pot almost full of potting compost
  • Add 1-2 seeds per pot and cover lightly with compost
  • Give it a good soak – you shouldn’t have to water again until the seeds have germinated
  • Place the pots on a sunny windowsill 

After 7-10 days you should see the first shoots. Once the tomato seedlings are 2.5cm (1in) tall, it’s time to transplant them into a bigger pot. And water regularly.

When the seedling is 20 – 25cm (6-8in) tall, you can transplant it to its final pot.

Here is how to care for your tomato plant in a pot:

  • Place in a sunny and sheltered spot
  • Water regularly – this could be every day in hot weather, as pots will dry out quicker
  • If you have chosen a vine variety, tie the stems to canes to support them
  • Pinch out any side shoots that come up between two stems
  • Once flowering has started, feed regularly (about once a week) with tomato feed
  • Harvest tomatoes when they are ripe

If you want to know more about growing tomatoes, read our guide about growing tomatoes from seed.

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5. Runner Beans

runner bean flowers

No other crop thrives in containers like runner beans do, they are one of the best veg to grow in containers.

Not only can you get huge harvests from a single pot, but they will put on a display of beautiful delicate flowers for months.

Because runner beans are climbing plants, they will need support. You can buy pots that include a climbing structure for runner beans.

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  • Modern attractive pot design, in black and burnt gold, made of durable plastic. Ideal for growing climbing plants such as clematis or roses.

This post isn’t just practical, but once the runner bean plant flowers, it will look stunning.

You can also make a wigwam with canes to support your runner beans. But you will need a bigger pot, at least 75 cm (30in).

Here is how you grow runner beans in containers:

  • Sow from around mid-May if you want to put the container outside straight away
  • Fill the pot almost full of good quality compost
  • Sow the runner bean seeds 5cm (2in) deep
  • Give a good soak
  • Place in a sunny and sheltered spot

Top Tip: Half fill the pot with multipurpose compost, add two layers of newspaper and then fill to the top with compost. Runner beans are a hungry crop and need moisture to grow. The newspaper will hold the moisture, which will reduce the amount of watering required in the summer months.

Once the seedlings emerge, you need to think about supporting them. 

Here is how you support and care for your runner bean plants in pots:

  • Water regularly – especially once the plant has started to flower
  • Cover the soil with a thick layer of mulch to lock in moisture
  • When the plant has grown a bit, tie it loosely to the support you provided
  • Once the plant has reached the top of your support, remove the growing point
  • Harvest the pods when they are young – pick regularly to encourage the plant to continue to crop

If you want to know more about growing runner beans, read our complete guide.

6. Lettuce

One of the best veg to grow in containers simply because it is foolproof.

Not only is lettuce fast-growing, but it is also happy in small spaces, so ideal for being grown in a pot.

Another reason why lettuce is a great veg to grow is that it can be grown and harvested almost all year round.

While lettuce is not a fussy plant, it has rather long roots, so any container you use should be at least 15cm (6in) deep. 

But apart from that, this salad plant will be happy in any container.

And it doesn’t matter what type of lettuce you want to grow, they will thrive in a container.

Here is how to grow lettuce in pots:

  • Start sowing in March if you want to grow your lettuce outside
  • Fill your pot almost full of compost
  • Sow your seeds 1cm (just under 1/2in) and cover with a thin layer of compost
  • The spacing of your seeds will depend on the type of lettuce you grow – just check the seed packet
  • Give a good soak
  • Put in a sheltered spot but not into direct sunlight – lettuce prefer cooler temperatures

As lettuce is a fast-growing crop, it should germinate in one to two weeks.

Once the seedlings have come up, here is how to care for your lettuce plants:

  • Water regularly – especially in dry, hot weather
  • Put in a shady spot – lettuce will bolt if it gets too hot
  • Weed the container regularly
  • Harvest once the lettuce head is firm

If you want more details about growing lettuce, read our complete guide.

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Frequently Asked Questions

If you have not found the answer to your question in our guide about the best veg to grow in containers, check out our FAQ section.

How Often Should You Water Vegetables In Containers?

Caring For Your Comfrey Plants

When it comes to container vegetable gardening, there is one thing you have to remember: Soil in a pot will dry out quicker than in a bed.

This means that you have to water plants in a pot more often than in a vegetable patch.

How often you have to water your plants will depend on the following:

  • The plant itself – some plants like tomatoes or potatoes are thirsty plants, while others, like carrots and garlic, can easily be overwatered
  • The weather – if it’s hot and dry plants in containers will need more water, potentially might even need watering twice a day
  • The Position – if your container is in direct sunlight for most of the day, the soil will dry out quicker than if it’s in the shade

Most plants thrive best when they have moist soil, which is achieved by regular watering. This does not necessarily mean every day though.

The best way to keep all your plants happy is by grouping the ones with similar water needs together and creating different rotas.

If you only have a few pots, that won’t be difficult at all. With more pots, all it takes is a bit of organisation.

How Deep Do Containers Need To Be To Grow Vegetables?

This is a very good question, so I just had to include it in my guide about the best veg to grow in containers.

While it will depend on the vegetable that you want to grow, most plants will thrive in pots that are around 45cm (18in) deep. 

For some you will get away with less, for others, you will need containers that are even deeper.

If you are only just starting out, opt for deeper containers, as they will be suitable for a wider range of vegetables.

Now that you know the best veg to grow in containers, nothing stands in your way to creating your very own container vegetable garden. Happy Growing!

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