Organic Vegetable Gardening in An Urban Setting

Vegetable Crops for Container Gardens

Almost any vegetable will grow fine in a container though some varieties do better or are more suited to our needs as urban and patio gardeners. Remember things like strawberries and cherry tomatoes make great hanging baskets as do peas and smaller cucumber varieties used for pickled gherkins. Remember when planting your containers to leave good drainage in the bottom so as not to drown your roots. Be careful when fertilizing your container garden. Most potting soils need some type of amendment to keep your vegetables healthy and happy but over fertilizing can kill your plant and increase the likelihood of pests and disease. Half strength of your favorite fertilizer is fine.



Table 1. Varieties for container-grown vegetables
Tomatoes:Patio, Pixie, Tiny Tim, Saladette, Toy Boy, Spring Giant, Tumbling Tom, Small Fry
Peppers:Yolo Wonder, Keystone Resistant Giant, Canape, (Hot) Red Cherry, Jalapeno
Eggplant:Florida Market, Black Beauty, Long Tom
Squash:Dixie, Gold Neck, Early Prolific Straightneck, (Green) Zucco, Diplomat, Senator
Leaf Lettuce:Buttercrunch, Salad Bowl, Romaine, Dark Green Boston, Ruby, Bibb
Green Onions:Beltsville Bunching, Crysal Wax, Evergreen Bunching
Green Beans:Topcrop, Greencrop, Contender, (Pole) Blue Lake, Kentucky Wonder
Radishes:Cherry Belle, Scarlet Globe, (White) Icicle
Parsley:Evergreen, Moss Curled
Cucumbers:Burpless, Liberty, Early Pik, Crispy, Salty


Table 2. Planting information for growing vegetables in containers
CropNumber of days for germinationNumber of weeks to optimum
age for transplanting
General size of containerAmount of light* requiredNumber of days from seeding to harvest
Lettuce, leaf6-83-4MediumPartial shade45-60
Onions6-86-8SmallPartial shade80-100
Parsley10-12-SmallPartial shade70-90
Radish4-6-SmallPartial shade20-60
*All vegetables grow best in full sunlight, but those indicated will also do well in partial shade.


Table 3. Common problems in container gardening
SymptomsCauseCorrective measures
Plants tall, spindly and unproductiveInsufficient lightMove container to area receiving more light
Excessive nitrogenReduce feeding intervals
Plants yellowing from bottom, lack vigor, poor colorExcessive waterReduce watering intervals; Check for good drainage
Low fertilityIncrease fertility level of base solution
Plants wilt although sufficient water presentPoor drainage and aerationUse mix containing higher percent organic matter; increase number of holes for drainage
Marginal burning or firing of the leavesHigh saltsLeach container with tap water at regular intervals
Plants stunted in growth; sickly, purplish colorLow temperatureRelocate container to warmer area
Low phosphateIncrease phosphate level in base solution
Holes in leaves, leaves distorted in shapeInsectsUse organic insecticide
Plant leaves with spots; dead dried areas, or powdery or rusty areasPlant diseasesRemove diseased areas where observed and use organic fungicide


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