3 easy vegetables to grow in pots
We present… the easiest veg for beginner gardeners to grow in pots and containers: tomatoes, potatoes and garlic.
How to grow vegetables at home
There’s nothing more rewarding (or delicious) than tucking into veggies grown by your own hand. Growing vegetables at home may seem daunting, but there are plenty of easy-to-grow plants that will do just fine, even under the care of a beginner gardener. What’s more, you don’t need any specific tools: just some roomy planters and peat-free compost.
Munching on your own homegrown delights isn’t just a point of pride. You’ll also score a heap of points from a sustainability point of view by reducing plastic use, lowering your carbon footprint and saying a big fat ‘no’ to nasty pesticides.
The easiest vegetables to grow in pots
Our top three, low-maintenance vegetables that are perfect for pots and containers are:
Short on space? These wholesome wonders are ideal for container gardening, so you can enjoy the good life, however big (or small) your patch. Add a pot of sweet peas into the picture and you’ll be living your best cottage garden life in no time.
How to grow your own tomatoes in a pot
When to sow tomatoes: April
When to harvest tomatoes: July - September
Providing you give them a sunny, sheltered spot, tomato plants are easy to grow, whether they’re in a window box or a patio planter.
There are two main types: bush tomatoes and cordon tomatoes. Bush tomatoes are far easier to grow as they don’t need much support, don’t need their side shoots pinching out and - best of all - they love life in a container.
You can start tomatoes off from seed in April or buy blight-resistant plug plants slightly later on. Plugs are small plants that have already been started off for you (*ahem* it’s not cheating - it’s improving your odds).
If you’re growing from seed, it’s best to start your tomatoes off on a sunny windowsill indoors and move the plants outside once they’re established. Follow the sowing instructions on the packet and you’ll be in safe hands.
When the plants are a few weeks old, pot them up into individual pots (or group one or two in a long trough) and gradually start to introduce them to The Great Outdoors, putting them out during the day and bringing them back in at night for a week, until they’re used to the temperature.
Then? You can treat them just the same as plug plants. Leave them outdoors and water them regularly. Pot them up into bigger containers when the roots have used up all the space. When the first flowers appear, spoil them with a dash of liquid feed twice a week and you’ll be tucking into tantalising toms at height of summer.
How to grow potatoes in a planter
When to chit potatoes: February - March
When to plant potatoes: April
When to harvest potatoes:
- Early potatoes: June - July
- Second early potatoes: July - August
- Maincrop potatoes: August - October
It’s a memorable moment in every gardener’s year: unearthing a tumble of soil-speckled potatoes never loses its magic. But the really special thing is that these tasty treasures are super easy to grow in containers on balconies, terraces and patios.
There are three types of potatoes:
- Early potatoes (sometimes called ‘new potatoes’) are ready to eat first.
- Second early potatoes are harvested in midsummer and are perfect for salads.
- Maincrop potatoes are used for baking and roasting. They take the longest to grow but can be stored for a few months. They’re better grown in the ground, but that’s not to say you can’t give them a go in pots.
Potatoes grow from other potatoes. Normal spuds from the shop won’t work; instead, you’ll have to get hold of some ‘seed potatoes’. The easiest, most reliable varieties to grow are 'King Edward', 'Charlotte' and 'Maris Piper'.
Before you plant them, stick them on a windowsill for up to 6 weeks until they start to ‘chit’, (i.e. sprout) and have shoots 1-2cm long.
Plant your sprouted seed potatoes in a big pot with drainage holes in the bottom or in a special potato planting bag.
How to grow potatoes:
1. Fill the bottom third of the container with peat-free compost (and mix in some garden compost or well-rotted manure if you can, as potatoes get hangry).
2. Place one seed potato in the middle and cover it up with another third of compost, leaving plenty of room at the top of the pot.
3. Move it to where you want it to grow and give it a good watering. Keep them well hydrated.
4. When the leaves start to appear out of the top, cover them up with another third of compost. This ‘earthing up’ is essential as it’ll produce more, better-tasting potatoes.
5. When you’re ready to harvest them, just tip the container over and let the contents spill out.
How to grow your own garlic in a container
When to plant garlic: October - February
When to harvest garlic: June - August
The first rule of vegetable gardening is to grow what you’ll eat. Garlic fiends: this one’s for you.
Garlic takes a good 6-8 months to grow, but it’s low maintenance and will make mealtimes at least twice as delicious.
1. Start by ordering some garlic bulbs. When they arrive, break them up: each clove will grow into a whole new bulb.
2. Choose a planter that’s at least 15-20cm deep, so the roots have room to grow.
3. Fill it with a free-draining, peat-free compost and press your cloves about 10cm in with the pointy ends up. A 15cm pot will fit about 3 cloves, whereas a 25cm pot has space for 8-10.
4. Cover the cloves with compost, water them in and make sure the pot is in a sunny spot.
5. When the leaves have grown up and turned yellow, your garlic is ready to harvest.
Once your bulbs are out of the ground, leave them somewhere airy to dry out for a few weeks. When the foliage is crispy, you can either plait them, French-style (ooh la la) or trim them and store them in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to rustle up a taste sensation.