Tag Archives: container gardening

10 Mini Vegetables You’ll Adore

Bigger isn’t always better! These ten mini vegetables provide incredible beauty and flavor in little packages. They’re great for folks looking to add something unique to their garden or work within a small space.

1. Chires Baby Sweet Corn

Do you know the little ears of corn popular in Asian stir-fries? That’s what Chires is great for. Harvest your Chires soon after the silks emerge, and they make a tasty, crunchy addition to salads, stir-fries, and kabobs. If allowed to mature and dry on the plant, they can be used for popcorn. These little guys can also be blanched and frozen or pressure canned for winter use. 

This variety produces 3-5 foot stalks, with 8-12 ears per stalk. The ears are 2-3 inches long. Chires are easy to grow, as corn earworms don’t have time to do damage, and corn smut is rarely a problem.

2. Doe Hill Golden Bell Sweet Peppers

If you’ve struggled to grow large bell peppers, you might want to try these Doe Hill Golden Bells. They’re high-yielding, widely adapted, and disease resistant. We love the miniature (1 x 2¼ in.) flattened, orange bell peppers they produce. The peppers have sweet, fruity, multidimensional flavor and keep well.

This pre-1900 family heirloom came to us from the Doe Hill area in Highland County, Virginia. It was introduced by SESE in 2000.

3. Plum Granny (Queen Anne Pocket) Melon

Interestingly, these melons aren’t typically grown for eating. While they are edible, their flavor is rather bland. Instead, these tennis ball-sized melons are usually grown for their incredible melon fragrance. They’re also quite beautiful. Their skin is yellow with maroon stripes. 

Plum Granny Melons are an Appalachian heirloom that was brought to Appalachia with European settlers. In Victorian times, these melons were sometimes carried in pockets to mask unpleasant odors.

4. Mexican Sour Gherkin (Mouse Melon, Sandita)

These tenacious vines bear many 5⁄8 in. x 7⁄8 in. fruits with skin like tiny watermelons. They’re a sure conversation piece for your garden, and they taste good too! Immature, they taste like cucumbers; when fully mature, they taste like pickled cucumbers.

We recommend you trellis Mexican Sour Gherkins. Kids and adults will love snacking on these if planted along a garden path. They’ll bear until frost.Tom Thumb Lettuce (mini vegetables)

5. Tom Thumb Bibb (Butterhead) Lettuce

This space-saving miniature butterhead dates to before 1850! It’s perfect for those with tiny gardens or individuals who only need a little bit of lettuce at one time. Just make sure to sow several successions!

Tom Thumb heads are about the size of an apple and feature tender, crumpled, medium-green leaves. Popular in some restaurants, the heads can be used whole in individual salads.

6. Everglades Cherry Tomato

Many people don’t have the time or space to grow large rows of tomatoes, but most people could find space on a patio or balcony for a potted plant. A single, potted Everglades Cherry will provide you with a surprising amount of fresh tomatoes throughout the season! These vigorous, disease-resistant plants will bear right up until frost. 

Everglades Cherries produce sweet, dark pink, ½ in. fruits. They’re similar to Matt’s Wild Cherry, but pinker, with some differences in flavor. A relatively new variety to SESE, the seedstock for Everglades was provided by Melissa DeSa of Florida.

Check out our other post, Grow Anywhere: Tips for Container Gardening.

7. Roseland Small White Pickling Cucumbers

SESE introduced this North Carolina heirloom in 2016. In the early ’70s, Gordon Shronce’s sister Evelyn Allran received seed from a neighbor in the Roseland community near Lincolnton, NC.

Roseland Small produces loads of early, blocky white cucumbers. Gordon likes to pick them at 3 in. or less, but they’re still mild and tender to 7 in. long, great sliced or pickled.

8. Morden Midget (Morden Mini) Eggplant

The Morden Mini is an excellent short-season variety for those farther north! It was developed in 1958 by Morden Experimental Farm, Manitoba, Canada. In our rare cool summers here in Virginia, it produces better harvests in June and July than our other varieties.

The short 18 to 30-inch plants also perform well in containers for those with limited space. Morden Mini produces 3 to 4-inch dark purple fruits.

9. Aji Ayuyo Peppers

This Peruvian heirloom is both beautiful and tasty. It would excel in edible landscape producing multicolor 1 inch by 1-inch peppers with a beautiful, shiny, glassy look. The plants grow to about 3 feet in height.

The Aji Ayuyo Peppers ripen from purple to cream to orange to red. They have a sweet, juicy exterior and very hot seeds.Black Cherry Tomato (mini vegetables)

10. Black Cherry Tomato

Cherokee Purple Tomatoes are always a favorite. They’re delicious and beautiful, but they require a lot of space and effort. These little Black Cherries have a similar flavor and appearance in a smaller package. 

The plants are vigorous and produce dusky purple 1-inch fruits with black highlights and full-bodied flavor. They’re an indeterminate variety and are generally ready to harvest in just 63 days.

Whether you just love adorable vegetables or are trying to save space, giving a few of these ten tiny varieties might be great for your garden. Fall in love with the incredible fragrance of Plum Granny Melons, the gem-like appearance of Aji Ayuyo Peppers, or the complex flavor of Black Cherry tomatoes this season!

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?

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