If you don’t have a vegetable plot there is no need for you to miss out on growing your own fruit and vegetables. Many varieties are suitable for growing in pots, grow-bags and even hanging baskets.
Look out for dwarf varieties when buying seed. If you are starting with young plants, many companies offer ‘patio collections’ that comprise varieties ideally suited to growing in pots.
A common mistake with container growing is to fill the pot nearly to the brim. If you do this then when you water your plants the pot will simply overflow leaving the plant still dry. Another common mistake is failing to follow the instructions for water retaining gel. A little goes a long way, if you use too much it will swell up and push the plant out of the pot.
Small Pots & Hanging Baskets
Chilli Peppers: Just 1 or 2 plants should be enough to provide all the chillies you need. The plants are attractive enough to grow in a pot and use as decoration on the patio table.
Sweet Peppers (Capsicums): Most varieties are small enough to fit in a small pot, look out for the variety ‘Redskin’ that has full size fruit on a compact plant.
Strawberries: You can grow these in hanging baskets, window boxes or tubs. Growing in pots actually makes it easier to keep them slug/snail free. I have a window box full of strawberries that is untroubled by slugs. I have 2 children’s sandcastle windmills in it to deter birds.
Herbs: Many herbs are suitable for growing in small pots, even on the window sill. Basil (the variety Purple Ruffles has unusual crinkled bronze leaves), chives, coriander, marjoram, mint, parsley, dwarf rosemary, sage and thyme can all be successfully grown in pots. Basil, chives, coriander and parsley all do well on a sunny window sill.
Mushrooms: Button mushroom and oyster mushroom kits are readily available. Oyster mushroom kits that use an old paper back book as the growing medium are available online. Great fun and very easy!
Radishes: These take up very little room, they can even be squeezed in near the edges of a pot containing something else.
Dwarf Tomato Plants: Be sure to select a dwarf plant, not just a standard size plant with small fruit! The variety ‘Tumbler’ works well in a good deep hanging basket. Other varieties to look out for include ‘Maskotka’ and ‘Red Robin’.
A 10 litre container is a good size, 15 litres is even better (about the size of a builder’s bucket.) Ideally the container should be over 15cm deep.
Beetroot: Remember each ‘seed’ is in fact a fruit with up to 4 seeds in it, so don’t sow them too close.
Carrots: Look out for round varieties and those bred for shallow soils such as ‘Chantenay Red Cored’.
Dwarf French Beans: These can be grown in pots or a good size hanging basket.
Lettuce and Salad Leaves: The extra slug protection that you can give pot grown salad leaves is a real advantage. Window boxes are ideal for cut and come again salad leaves.
Runner Beans: Make sure you can provide adequate support for the plants as they grow
Tomatoes: These grow well in pots or grow-bags. Bush varieties don’t need training but cordon varieties will need to be to be tied in to a cane. Make sure you can provide the needed support, a single cane in a grow bag will just fall over. Grow tubs are available that have lids with holes for canes, this gives more secure support and reduces watering.
Minimum 15 litres (builders bucket size).
Courgettes: Make sure you have plenty of space as the plant will likely be over 100cm wide.
Potatoes: Early varieties work best in containers, but you can grow any variety.
You don’t need super deep pots. Potato tubers are produces about 30cm/12″ below the ground. Planting them deeper doesn’t help.
Patio Fruit Trees: There are a wide variety of fruit trees especially for growing in containers. Plums, apples, pears, cherries, nectarines, apricots…….the list goes on. Check what the final size will be and whether regular pruning is required