Garden & Landscape Tips

Little Bing tomato.
Little Bing tomato
Photo courtesy Ball Horticulture

Many people who would like to grow summer vegetables think they are out of luck because they don’t have a sunny yard. They may live in an apartment or condo with a only a balcony or patio, or they may only have a porch stoop with just enough sun for their favorite summer tomatoes and peppers. Maybe they have a heavily shaded yard, with only a few spots of sun between shrubs or perennials.

The solution for foodies and all others who love fresh-picked veggies is to grow edible plants in a pot. In recent years, plant breeders have introduced several compact new varieties of many vegetables, that meet the small-space requirement and produce good quantities of tasty veggies worthy of any summer table.

Where can you find them? Check with your local garden centers first for these plants, but because several are very new introductions, they may be difficult to find. Other sources are provided below.

Little Bing tomato

A sweet, cherry tomato, Little Bing was bred for growing in a container. It is disease resistant and high production, sporting dozens of 1-inch round, red tomatoes all summer on 2-foot tall plants. Little Bing’s productive nature makes it attractive when mixed in with ornamental plants, either in a pot or in the ground. You can find this 2018 introduction at Jung Seed, and seeds at Amazon.

Candy Cane Red pepper.
Candy Cane Red pepper
Photo courtesy Ball Horticulture

Candy Cane Red pepper

A 2018 introduction, Candy Cane pepper has green- and red -striped fruit with green–and-white variegated foliage. The sweet fruit turns from green and white stripes to solid red as it matures. Crispy, thin-walled with an elongated shape, Candy Cane is considered a snacking pepper because it can be eaten out of hand at any time, no matter the color.

Variegated foliage and striped peppers make this an attractive plant mixed in with perennials or other ornamental plantings. At about 2 feet tall it does not need staking, and thrives in a container or in the ground. Seeds may be found online at Harris Seed, and seeds and plants at Jung Seed.

Patio Baby eggplant.
Patio Baby eggplant
Photo courtesy All-America Selections

Patio Baby eggplant

The highly prolific Patio Baby eggplant is another veggie bred for   containers or other small spaces. It produces 25 to 50, 2- to 3-inch long, dark purple, egg-shaped fruits in a season. This 2014 All-America Selections winner grows about 22 inches tall, a perfect size for a pot. Bonnie Plants grows Patio Baby eggplant; look for plants at big box stores and garden centers that carry that brand. Territorial Seed has seed, and Burpee has plants and seeds.

Container tips

  • For best results, containers for peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant should be a 5-gallon size. For apartment and condo dwellers, consider Smart Pots, which are made of lightweight spun, recycled plastic material, are reusable and collapsible for easy storage. They also are available at Amazon.
  • Use a high-quality well-drained potting mix, tailored for containers.
  • Follow the instructions on the seed packet or plant tag for proper planting time, depth, and other growing details.
  • Make sure you will be able to provide water regularly to the pots.
  • Fertilize according to label directions. Consider using Natural Start by GreenView Tomato Vegetable & Herb Food (10-7-7). Rich in natural and organic nutrients, use it every 4-6 weeks for a more bountiful harvest.
  • Harvest the vegetables routinely, to encourage the plants to keep producing.
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