The Best Foods to Grow in a Small Space Container Garden

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Shay Spaniola)

Few things are more satisfying than growing food that you can eat. If you’re living in an apartment or any other place without a backyard, you may think that this is an impossible dream, but you might be surprised by the variety of edibles you can grow in containers. The following is a list of things I’ve had good luck growing in small(ish) containers, along with some other plants that have been recommended to me as good small space growers.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Remember, when you’re starting your garden, that being able to fit things in is only half the battle. Do your research, and make sure your soil, lighting conditions, and climate are right for your plants before you start.

Easy to grow and delicious for snacking, strawberries can be grown in containers like this one to save space.

Blueberries can be grown in small(ish) containers, provided you get the right variety. I’ve got my eye on the Top Hat and Peach Sorbet varieties, both of which form a bush only two feet in diameter, for my illicit fire escape garden. (Don’t worry, I live on the top floor so I’m not blocking anyone’s path.) Blueberries grow quite well if you plant them in peat moss, and they like acidic soil, so you may have to do a little fertilizing. Some varieties are self-fertile, but you’ll get more fruit if you plant two or more varieties together. Blueberries like company.

I personally have never grown blackberries in a container — usually they grow quite tall and require staking. Plus they have thorns, which is a bit of a bummer. But Brazzleberries has developed a variety that forms a dense bush and can be grown in a container. Has anyone tried these? How did you fare?

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Tomatoes are one of my favorite things to grow, because the tomatoes you get at the grocery store just can’t even be compared to the homegrown ones. Tomatoes will grown quite well in a container, provided you have a large enough container. Try at least a 15 gallon pot or tub. You can also grow them upside down, which will give you a little more yield for your space, and won’t require caging or staking like growing tomatoes upright will.

Like tomatoes, peppers (hot peppers or bell peppers) will flourish happily in containers, provided you give them enough space. They may need to be staked. Peppers, like tomatoes, prefer full sun.

Herbs grow in relatively little space and are a great way to get a lot of bang for your buck. One of my favorites is basil, but mint, thyme, oregano, and parsely all grow well in containers and have a small footprint. (Well, mint will have a small footprint if you keep it in a small container. Otherwise it will grow monstrously huge.) Sage and rosemary are also good container growers, although they may require a bit more space.

Cucumbers and Zucchini
I have not tried growing cucumbers or zucchini in containers, but according to Brown Thumb Mama, both of these plants have varieties that are especially suited to growing in small spaces.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Citrus Trees (Dwarf Varieties)
Growing your own citrus is delicious, and it smells good too. Some kinds of citrus, like key limes, are naturally suited to containers, and others, like the blood orange pictured above, come in dwarf varieties (this one is ‘Moro’) that occupy a smaller footprint. As with any plant, the folks at your local nursery can be a huge help when choosing which citrus is right for your space.

What did I miss? Which plants have worked well for you in a smaller space?