Avid container gardeners may have considered growing lettuce, herbs or tomatoes in containers, but not cucumbers, corn, snap peas and eggplants. These four vegetables make excellent container plants, provided that you follow a few tips and select your varieties carefully.
Cucumber. Most bush varieties and smaller vining cucumber varieties do well in containers. Use well-drained containers that are at least 12 to 16 inches wide and deep; larger is generally better. A trellis or structure for climbing may help vining varieties to remain manageable, receive enough sunlight, and yield well in containers. Plant 2 to 3 cucumber seeds per container and thin to 1 plant when seedlings are 2 to 4 inches tall. Very large containers may support more than one cucumber plant. Try Fresh Pickles hybrid, an early, compact vining variety that produces attractive plants and fruits suited to fresh eating or pickling.
Corn. Standard-size corn is generally not recommended for container gardening due to its naturally large, spreading root systems, its need for highly fertile soil that can be difficult to maintain in containers, and the number of plants required for proper pollination. However, there are miniature corn varieties bred for container gardening, such as the hybrid supersweet variety On Deck. Remember corn is a heavy feeder. Be sure to provide sufficient supplemental fertility, especially nitrogen, when growing corn in containers.
Snap Peas. Bush varieties of snap peas, such as Sugar Ann and Sugar Daddy, produce compact, low-growing plants that are ideally suited to containers. Pots or containers for growing peas should be of at least 10 inches in depth, preferably deeper. GardenZeus recommends a soil mix of at least 50% topsoil or sand when growing peas in containers. Potting soils with high proportions of organic matter tend to shrink and collapse over the course of a growing season as soil microbes and macro organisms like insects digest or decompose the organic matter, which results in falling soil levels and possibly insufficient soil depth for peas to yield well.
Eggplant. Eggplants are generally thought of as large plants requiring some amount of trellising. But many dwarf or compact varieties do extremely well in containers and do not require trellising. Select pots that are at least 12 inches across and 12 inches deep. Compact varieties that require little to no trellising are ideal. Try Patio Baby or Fairy Tale Hybrid; both are All American Selections and both are excellent in containers.
Watering Tip for Containers. Soil tends to dry out more frequently in containers or raised beds, so be sure to monitor as needed and provide sufficient and consistent water.If growing in containers, pay close attention to soil moisture and frequency of irrigation, and be sure to water sufficiently to avoid any signs of wilting. If you know you may have difficulty maintaining consistent soil moisture, consider using self-watering containers, which have a reservoir of water and a wicking mechanism, such as cloth or soil tubes. These can be purchased or made yourself.
GardenZeus has customized growing information by plant and zip code. To get started, enter your zip code here.