Tag Archives: container gardening

12 Varieties Perfect for Container Gardening

Don’t let a small space ruin your garden dreams! Even if you just have a small balcony you can grow a decent amount of your own fresh produce and flowers in containers. Southern Exposure offers many varieties that are well suited to container gardening.

Yellow Pear Cherry Tomato

This cherry tomato is very productive and heat resistant but is prone to cracking if not watered consistently. It would do well in a container situation where it gets consistent attention. The Yellow Pear Cherry Tomato is adorable and excellent for fresh eating or preserves. It may need additional support as it grows.

Many tomatoes particularly smaller cherry varieties can be grown in containers with proper care. Just make sure you use a fairly large container and have a way to support large plants.

Lemon Gem Signet Marigold

Offering both beauty and food this marigold is a great choice for container gardeners. Its petals and leaves are edible and it is fairly small. It can be grown closer together than many other marigold varieties. Marigolds also help repel a variety of pests.

Other marigold varieties may also be grown in pots.

Spicy Bush Basil

Herbs are an excellent way to get your money’s worth from a small space. Spicy bush basil is a miniature basil plant (8-12in.) that’s very aromatic and grows well in containers.

Rainbow Swiss Chard

Rainbow chard is a great choice for containers for several reasons. First it’s a hardy green that won’t bolt like lettuce and spinach as soon as the weather gets hot. Second it keeps producing for continuous harvests. Lastly it’s gorgeous and adds a lot of interest and color to any small garden.


They’re super easy to grow and well suited to container gardening. Chives add a lot of flavor with little effort and can even be grown indoors.

Misato Rose Radish

Many radishes are suitable for container gardening because they’re relatively small and have short growing periods. Misato Rose Radishes are a particularly good choice because they’re very forgiving and will still bulb properly even if crowded or thinned late.

Table Queen Bush (Acorn) Squash

If your heart is dead set on having a winter squash consider the Table Queen Bush Squash which takes up far less space than other winter squash varieties.

Chantenay Red Core Carrots

These carrots adapt to a wide range of soil conditions. They’re blocky with a blunt tip (5 1/2in. long and 2 1/2in. at the shoulder).

Dark Green Italian Parsley

Most parsley is excellent for container gardening because it’s small and hardy. Dark Green Italian is often considered the best flavored variety.

Jewel Nasturtium

Easy to grow, even in containers, Jewel Nasturtiums are both beautiful and edible!

Heavenly Blue Morning Glory

If you have space to set up a trellis and want to add some height and beauty to your container garden Heavenly Blue Morning Glories are a wonderful choice. They’re fast growing with lovely 4 inch flowers.

Chinese Five-Color Hot Pepper

This pepper is very ornamental with fiery hot fruits. Its small size makes it well suited to container planting.

Tips for Container Gardening Success

  • If you need to give your crops an extra boost try watering with compost tea. Unlike chemical fertilizers compost tea won’t cause salt to build up in the soil and will keep your potting soil healthier for a longer period of time.
  • Make sure you use and actual potting mix instead of just garden soil which will pack down and be hard for roots and water to penetrate.
  • While it can be tempting to use any container you can scrounge up you should try to use safe containers that won’t leach especially if you’re growing food crops. For example you may want to opt for food safe plastics or avoid plastic altogether and use ceramic. Also make sure anything painted or glazed is lead-free.

These are just a few examples of varieties that can be grown in containers. Don’t let a small space stop you from growing your own food! If these varieties don’t appeal to you it’s definitely worth playing around with others. Often it’s best to choose smaller varieties as they will be more productive in a container setting and easier to manage.

What varieties have you grown in containers?

Pin it for later.

Breeding Peppers and Tomatoes

Continuing our summer road trip adventures!   We visited two individuals doing exciting vegetable breeding work.  While lots of universities and other institutions do great work with agricultural research and breeding, valuable information and great new varieties can also come from individual farmers and backyard gardeners.  If you’re thinking about doing your own breeding, you might be interested in our books Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties by Carol Deppe or Breeding Organic Vegetables: A Step-by-Step Guide for Growers by Rowen White and Bryan Connolly.

Craig LeHoullier is well known to tomato fans.  Starting in the ‘90s, he introduced many heirloom tomatoes through SESE, including Cherokee Purple.  A more recent project that Craig and tomato breeders from all over the world have been involved with is the Dwarf Tomato Project – using great-tasting heirlooms in breeding new, shorter tomatoes (2-4 feet tall) that are easier to trellis and to grow in containers.

We stopped by Craig’s house in Raleigh, NC to see Craig’s garden.  This year Craig is growing out all 36 dwarf tomatoes that have been released so far.  Craig cautioned us before we visited that with the heat and rain and all, his tomatoes were starting to get some diseases, but we thought that was great – a nice chance to see how the different varieties handle disease!  We already carry one of the dwarf varieties, Rosella Purple, and as we tasted our way through the dwarf tomatoes, we were taking notes for our wish list of more dwarfs to grow for seed crops.

Craig grew these plants in straw bales in his driveway!  A great gardening technique is to add some compost to the top of a straw bale and plant into the compost; as the plants grow, they’ll reach their roots into the straw, and since straw bales hold a lot of moisture, the plants won’t need much watering in between rains.  It’s a great way of growing tomatoes in containers without actual containers – Craig’s writing a book about it, look for it sometime this next year!

Craig’s book Epic Tomatoes came out last December, and he’s been busy giving talks and doing book signings for it.  He’ll be at this year’s Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello, giving a special pre-festival talk on Thursday, September 9th as well as giving talks on Friday and Saturday.  Many of the tomatoes featured in Craig’s book will be featured in this year’s tomato tasting at the festival, so expect to see Craig hanging out there as well!


Pittsboro, NC farmer Doug Jones is an passionate about pepper breeding.  If you’ve ever been to the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association conference, you’ve probably seen him at the Seed Swap table, sorting through his peppers, checking each for taste before he takes the seed out to save.

The photo below shows pepper seed from different fruits spread out for drying.  Doug bred Sweet Jemison, a long yellow pepper, which we now carry; he’s a big fan of long Italian bell peppers!

Doug farmed for many years at Piedmont Biofarm in Pittsboro.  Here’s a photo from November 2011 of Irena with 10 foot tall peppers in their high tunnel!

This year Doug is dividing his time between The Farm at Penny Lane and Paz Farm, where he’s also doing pepper trials for Johnny’s Selected Seeds and continuing his pepper breeding work.  Hot, wet weather had him going along the rows to prune off infected pepper leaves to keep Bacterial Leaf Spot at bay; as Doug himself described it, wet weather had him despairing that the disease would get out of hand, while a few days letter dry weather had him optimistic that the peppers would pull through…