5 Top Fruits and Vegetables That Grow in Containers​

2022-06-15 11:20:13 By : Ms. Caster Wheel ZR

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by Susan Moeller, AARP, May 16, 2022

Auyanna McBride navigated gardening conditions in four countries when her husband was in the military, and she adapted even when she had only a postage stamp of outdoor space.

“I have been gardening for over 20 years, and one of the things I tell people is, it doesn’t matter the amount of space,” says McBride, an accountant and gardener who has settled in Hinesville, Georgia, with her retired husband and a lot of plants. “Many times we didn’t have a yard. We mainly stayed in apartment-style buildings, but I would figure out a way to grow.”

McBride became so adept that she now has her own YouTube channel, called Southern Entertaining. She offers videos, books and courses for growing vegetables and fruits in raised beds and containers like the ones that have overtaken most of her back yard.

“I could really fill up more,” she says. “Why not have containers on the patio?”

Experts like McBride say container gardening is not only an easy, portable way to jump into gardening but also an efficient use of whatever space you have, be it a yard, patio or sunny window. Almost any container will do, whether it’s a plastic 5-gallon bucket or a ceramic heirloom. Just make sure the container is the right size for the plant and has holes for drainage. If you’re growing food, make sure the container is lead-free.

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Ask at your garden center or extension service for recommendations for container plants; there are new varieties every year as growers develop varieties that produce more in a smaller space. Experts say the following five categories usually do well:

“They can just go in little plastic pots. You can even use those little window boxes,” Will says. A container also will control an herb like mint that can become invasive in a garden.

The right container variety will produce plenty, says Will, who got 23 pounds of tomatoes from one Tasmanian Chocolate heirloom tomato plant, a variety designed for containers.

Lettuce is “really easy,” says McBride, and it’s great for spring and fall. Other greens such as kale, small-headed cabbage varieties like Katrina, and baby bok choy also do well in containers.

Strawberry plants are inexpensive enough to treat as an annual, Will says, and can even be grown in hanging baskets. Growing them yourself also means you control pesticides and fertilizers, she adds. “Here in Iowa garden centers, you get a six-pack of strawberries for $12.99. But then those strawberries will produce generally more than $12.99 worth of what you would’ve bought in the store, and it’s right on your patio.”

Wade and McBride both grow fruit trees in containers, including apple, plum, peach, fig and citrus, although admittedly they use large containers. McBride also grows grapes. “We actually have a variety called Pixie Grapes. They’re bred for containers; we get a few clusters every year,” she says.

Susan Moeller is a contributing writer who covers lifestyle, health, finance and human-interest topics. A former newspaper reporter and editor, she also writes features and essays for the Boston Globe Magazine as well as her local NPR station, among other outlets.

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