Almost any plant you take a fancy to will live in a container. Why just grow beautiful flowers? Try your hand at vegetables. There are all colors, shapes and kinds of vegetables that can be grown nicely in containers.
Swiss Chard comes in varieties with white or red stems and beautiful green leaves. Lettuce varieties have colors of near-yellow to rich greens with ruffled edges; others have globe shapes or are loose-leafed. Cabbages come in many shades, too. Or try a pot of mesclun not only does it taste great but the colors run from light green to rich burgundy.
You can add texture to your containers with the beautiful, airy foliage of carrots. Plant them in hanging basket for something different and add a few flowering annuals to the basket for a great display. Grow a zucchini. Try a cucumber or two on a trellis. Grow a few onions in your pots. And potatoes have rich green tops that will fill in nicely among your flowers.
Have fun planting your container gardens. Use your imagination and consider growing some different vegetables life is not all tomatoes and green peppers!
Bobbie Truell, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service
Live in an apartment? Have a small yard? Are you a new gardener who would like to grow vegetables at home but have little space for a garden? Start small-try container gardening.
Vegetables grown in containers can be surprisingly productive and especially satisfying to the grower, particularly if you have space considerations or you're just starting out. All you need is a nice sunny spot and a little preparation.
Almost any kind of container can be used, from flowerpots to buckets, tubs to hanging baskets. Less common gardening materials like metal or glass containers can also be used as long as they're prepared properly. (Paint metal containers on the inside with asphalt paint; paint glass containers on the outside with dark paint; all containers must have drainage holes.)
Fill containers with a good garden soil, which is readily available at home and garden centers. To start, select one or two of your favorite vegetables, such as tomatoes or peppers. Carrots, beans (especially bush forms of snap or lima), cucumbers, radishes-and even corn!-can be grown in containers. If you'd like to try tomatoes in hanging baskets, try 'Florida Basket' (which produces about one-inch fruit) or 'Floragold Basket' (yellow, cherry-sized tomato). Ask your nurseryman for fertilization and watering recommendations for the plants you've selected, and you're ready to go.
A few things to remember: Because space is limited in a container, position plants so they'll have plenty of room to grow. If you plan to combine more than one type of vegetable in a large container, be sure to group plants that have similar needs. Watering and feeding requirements may be quite different from plant.
Container soils tend to dry out quickly, and nutrients leach out of the soils more quickly than in ground soil. Keep in mind that watering and feeding may be required frequently, especially during the hottest summer months.
Limited space or experience doesn't have to stand in your way! Give it a try-there's little to lose and a lot to gain by growing fresh vegetables in your containers.
Jan Stella, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service