Try going for small or dwarf varieties where these are available. Little Gem and Tom Thumb are great tasting lettuces and take up less space than many other varieties. bear in mind also that much food gets wasted because it has lost its freshness. How many people buy a large iceberg lettuce, make one salad then leave the rest in the fridge to go limp and tasteless. Much better to pick one fresh plant, use it for the one meal and throw nothing away.
I would say there is very little in the veg. world that can’t be container grown, although large plants like broccoli will obviously require large containers. Fruit is also a possibility although with tree fruits you will need a very dwarfing rootstock and a large tub. Below is a list of things I’ve successfully grown in containers.
beans (dwarf french)
celery (needs plenty of water)
pepper (sweet and chili)
That’s just the stuff I’ve grown. You can experiment and see what works for you and your particular situation. Oh, I forgot the herbs. Most herbs will grow happily in containers and can even be brought indoors during winter to give fresh supplies.
Any type of container will do as long as you put sufficient drainage holes in the bottom to stop waterlogging of the soil/compost. Ideally they should be 12 inches (30cm) deep and the same diameter/width but you can get away with much smaller. You can see from the pics that I use a variety of old pots, tubs and boxes. Most of them have cost me nothing and if you use your imagination you'll be surprised at what can be utilized. When we had a new bathroom suite fitted I was going to use the old lavatory bowl but my wife said it would lower the tone of the neighbourhood!
|This shows an assortment of crops that were started off early in the greenhouse then put outside when the weather warmed up. The idea is to extend the growing season.|
|Some of the same plants thriving in the outside air.|
|healthy crops of onions, carrots, spring onions, lettuce and chives|
One thing you must remember is that container crops need regular watering. Even outdoors in high summer this may mean twice a day and can be very time-consuming. I collect rainwater from the house roof (re-cycling again) but even with three water butts I can soon run dry in hot weather. You may also need to add extra feed/fertilizer during the season, especially if using commercial compost which often has only enough nutrients for as little as 6 weeks. Liquid feeds are the easiest to apply but you can get slow release pellets which are mixed with the compost before planting. Both of these options can be organic or not, depending on your preference.
At the peak of the growing season in 2011 I had 124 assorted containers in production. Now you can see what I mean about time-consuming!
Also bear in mind that if you fill your containers with commercial compost it can get very expensive. That's why I try to be self-sufficient in home-made compost but more about that later.