There was a time when almost every household in our town had its own garden plot that stretched between the back door and the alley. There were many reasons for this. First was that my hometown is primarily a farming community, with all that the term implies. Second was the double-barreled effect of (a) The Great Depression (1929 ~1940) and (b) World War II (1941-1945) when what was ripe in your garden was probably what was for supper. Third was a prevalence of first- or second-generation city folks who had been forced off the farmland by financial hardship or by primogeniture (e.g., all the land goes to the eldest son when dad dies). Fourth, many retirees under the (then) new Social Security Act did not trust the federal government to keep its word to continue Social Security benefits after retirement.
Now we live in a time of relative plenty despite the stress and strain on our social fabric and supply lines thanks to the pandemic. Yet many people will plant corn, green beans, potatoes, peppers and tomatoes wherever they can; not out of need, but for the simple pleasure of doing it. In addition, for the knowledge that if Old Man Trouble happens to stop by you will still have food to fall back on.
Five Vegetable Container Garden Rules and Advice
So let us get to the subject of veggie container gardening, made possible in part by the development of new compact vegetable varieties.
Grow compact vegetables! You may notice the absence of some LARGE vegetable favorites from this article, such as potatoes, corn, and melons. These plants need more space than most containers provide and are not suitable.
Choose your location. The best location should get enough sunlight (6-8 hours full sun) and protection from wind.
Choose large containers. Most vegetables grow best in larger containers. 2- and 5-gallon pots are the most common sizes. 5-gallon window boxes are also good picks, as are 5-gallon paint buckets purchased at hardware or paint stores. Container gardens need lots of sun, but most plant roots cannot stand heat, so white plastic containers are a good choice. Drain holes are mandatory. You also want to provide about a foot of potting mix in the container for root vegetables
Choose the right pot. Most gardeners prefer light-colored plastic pots with good drainage for vegetables because they stay cool and plastic retains water better than most pottery. Pottery is more porous and loses water. Glazed or unglazed pots are also more prone to breaking. A pretty Terracotta or glazed pot looks more attractive, though. If you choose ceramic containers, just be sure to make sure plants stay irrigated.
Use Quality Potting Soil. Do not use your garden soil as a planting medium (really!). It does not drain well enough and may harbor pests and diseases. Black Gold® All Purpose Potting Mix and Black Gold® Natural & Organic Potting Mix will meet the demands of your container crops from start to finish. Some experts also advocate filling container bottoms with dead (not green) lawn sweepings or compost and then following that with a foot of potting mix.
Vegetables for Containers
Bush Beans (e.g., Bush Blue Lake, Bush Green, Bush Yellow, TopCrop or similar)
3 plants per 2-gallon container (8-12 inch soil depth
Plant seeds directly in containers (does not transplant well)
Harvest in 50-60 days
Cucumbers (‘Spacemaster’ or other compact vine variety)
Each year, I look forward to writing this article because it’s fun to research and write. Vegetable gardening is popular, and with popularity comes variety and loads of new enticing introductions each year. 2022 is no exception. New prettier, tastier, more disease-resistant vegetable pickings are many, and with inflation on the rise, I hope more people will give home growing a try. Inexpensive fresh food is a huge draw! Successful home growers quickly learn the value of less costly, better-tasting food harvested from their own gardens.
New 2022 Vegetable Introductions
Lots of the plants on this list, I plan to grow myself. Each new introduction was chosen for its advertised flavor, vigor, production, and appeal. Disease resistance is another plus.
Beans and Peas
Starting with cool-season crops, there are a couple of select peas to try. High Mowing Organic Seeds is offering the crisp, new snow pea ‘Blizzard‘ (58 days to harvest). It performed very well in their trials, bearing lots of slender, crisp, sweet snow peas on 30-36 inch vines. Snap peas are my favorite, so I will be trying another new pea they are offering, ‘Sweet Gem’ (63 days) snap pea. Its copious, juicy, crisp, sweet peas are produced on strong 45-52 inch vines, which are disease resistant.
Warm-season bush beans can be grown in 4-week intervals throughout the summer, and I like the space-saving plants. Slender, crisp filet beans are so delicious when freshly harvested, and bright yellow ‘Bamako‘ filet bean (54 days) from Johnny’s Select Seeds is stringless, crisp, and plants become loaded with golden beans in the summer months. The upright bush bean is also very disease-resistant. Green bean lovers should consider the new Red Tail snap bush bean, which bears straight, crisp, glossy, 5-6 inch green beans with excellent flavor. Add it to your list.
Two new corn varieties stood out to me on the page. The early corn ‘Solstice’ (68 days), offer by Johnnys, is a tasty bicolor with yellow and gold kernels that mature in just a little over two months after sprouting. Blight resistance and reliable productivity are two more reasons to grow it. The unusually beautiful ‘Wild Violet‘ sweet corn is a Burpee offering with blue-grey and white kernels that darken after cooking. Even though it looks like decorative corn, it is sweet, juicy, and flavorful–a must-grow variety for adventurous gardeners.
Greens, Cabbages, and Roots
The large, sweet Chinese cabbage ‘Miss Hong‘ (55 days) from Johnny’s Select Seeds has dark-red, crinkled leaves that are noted for their crunchy, yet tender, texture. Those who love traditional cabbage should grow the perfectly round and dense ‘Expect‘ (100 days). It is disease-resistant, heat-tolerant, and flavorful. Another cool new brassica is ‘Rainbow Candy Crush‘ kale from Jung Seed Company. It looks like the prettiest frilliest purple-pink ornamental kale but it is wonderfully flavorful. Plant it in the fall, and harvest it after frost to boost its sweetness.
Salad lovers have many new greens to grow. Butter lettuce is a personal favorite, and the disease-resistant ‘Milagro’ butterhead lettuce produces large, beautiful heads in just 54 days. Plant this with the two reliable, curly, cut-and-come-again lettuces purple EZFLOR and green EZPARK, and you will have fresh salad all spring. The EZ lettuces are long-bearing, bolt-resistant, and disease-resistant.
Unique carrots are always fun to grow, and ‘Yellow Moon‘ is an all-season Nantes x Imperator type carrot that’s crisp, long, and pale yellow. I am sold.
Squash, Melons, and Cucumbers
Parks Seed is selling, Butterbaby butternut squash (100-105 days), which has 4-6 inch, sweet squashes that are as cute as pie. The short-vined plants allow home gardeners with less space to grow them. Those with more space need to try Burpee’s ‘Butterkin’ squash (105 days), which is a pumpkin and butternut squash hybrid with a pumpkin-like look and butternut skin. Its bright orange flesh is noted as being delectably sweet and smooth.
Cucumber and pickle picklers must try ‘Mini-Me’ (45 days), a seedless snack cucumber that’s prolific, just 2-3 inches, and very crisp and sweet. Grow these little Beit-alpha-type seedless cucumbers through summer. The larger beit-alpha cucumber, Merlin (50-55 days), from Burpee Seeds, is equally seedless, sweet, and bears well.
Century Star (80 days) seedless watermelon is a 2022 AAS Regional Winner for a reason. It yielded lots of sweet, seedless, 10 lb melons in Michigan where summers are cool. The fruits and leaves are beautifully dotted with yellow spots as well. Another unique melon I could not resist is the Indian ‘Hara Madhu’ (90 days), which is noted for its exceptional tolerance to hot, dry conditions as well as its honeyed taste. It’s a great choice for those living where summers are hot.
One productive new zucchini from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds that stood out is ‘Long White of Palermo‘ (45-55 days). The heirloom Mediterranean variety bears buttery zucchinis with a pleasing nutty flavor on bushy plants just right for smaller gardens. The totally unique avocado squash ‘Zapallito Del Tronco‘ (50 days) from Baker Creek also piqued my interest. It is an Argentinian heirloom that looks like a winter squash but eats like summer squash and has buttery soft flesh.
Tomatoes and Peppers
Burpee is selling the colorful ‘Mocha Swirl‘ (50-70 days) snacking pepper exclusively, and it is one of the prettiest peppers I’ve ever seen. Its tasty elongated fruits are swirled with shades of red, orange, purple, yellow, and green when mature. Plant it alongside the compact (18″) ‘Purple Beauty‘ bell pepper (75 days), from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed, which has sweet, thick-walled, blocky fruits that mature to almost black. Both will look beautiful on a crudité tray alongside Johnny’s reliable, bright orange ‘Flavorburst’ pepper (67-87 days), which is noted for its high sugar content.
2022 has so many tomato introductions! My final picks were chosen for beauty, trial ratings, disease resistance, and taste (most of all). The bicolored green and red Captain Lucky (75 days, indeterminate) slicing tomato is a new one from Johnny’s with excellent flavor that challenges the best heirloom tomatoes. The yellow, green, pink, and red interior is described as psychedelic. Two more big on beauty and flavor from Baker Creek are ‘Alice’s Dream‘ (80 days, indeterminate) beefsteak and ‘Black Strawberry’ cherry tomato (60 days, indeterminate). ‘Alice’s Dream’ has an orange-yellow exterior striped with purple and a deep orange-yellow interior described as tasting sweet and tropical. The super sweet ‘Black Strawberry’ tomatoes are orange-red caste with a mottled overlay of purple-black and produced in easy-to-harvest trusses. Finally, Burpee’s Bodacious big slicing tomato (80-85 days, indeterminate) deserves attention. The large, red, tasty tomatoes are aromatic and produced on vines that really resist blight. Each can produce 40-50 fruits in a season.
Cool New Herbs
Baker Creek takes the cake when it comes to amazing new herbs for the garden. ‘Orangelo’ thyme (Thymus fragrantissimus ‘Orangelo’, Zones 5-8) looks extra inviting with its promise of true citrus flavor. I have to make space for a couple in my rock garden. There is no want for new and interesting basils. Small-space gardeners will love the deepest-purple, ball-shaped ‘Purple Ball‘, which reaches just under 12 inches. Its sweet, fragrant, darkest purple leaves will look great in salads and pasta. Baker Creek’s ‘Evivi Ntor’ African basil, originally grown and obtained from the Ewe tribe in Ghana, is described as having a sharp, peppery, citrusy flavor. It is also remarkably heat-tolerant. Another basil for flavor and summer heat is Everleaf Thai Towers. The upright plants are slow to bolt, reach 2-3 feet, and have true Thai basil flavor.
“Can watermelon vines be grown in containers?” Question from George of Hagerstown, MD
Answer: Watermelons can be grown in large containers if you choose a compact variety. Here are my recommendations regarding potted watermelon culture.
Growing Potted Watermelons
First, choose a more compact, short-vine watermelon variety suited for container growing. ‘Cal Sweet Bush‘, a 2019 AAS award winner, has excellent melons and vines that do not take over, and ‘Bush Sugar Baby‘ is another small-vined type with tasty melons. Next, choose a large container that’s between 18 to 24 inches. There must be holes at the bottom for drainage. Plastic or glazed containers hold water better in the heat of summer. Fill the pot with quality, porous potting soil that holds water well. I would choose Black Gold Natural & Organic Raised Bed & Potting Mix. Place the pot in a spot where it gets full sun, and the vining stems can hang down and spread a little. Patios or open garden areas work well for large potted vegetables like this.
Plant one or two watermelons in the pot in spring after the threat of frost has passed. Keep the soil moist. When the vines have reached a good size in summer, water daily in the absence of rain. Fertilizer well from the beginning. A good slow-release fertilizer formulated for vegetables is ideal. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s application instructions.
Melons should start to appear by late July or August.
“I am growing the same cucumbers this year as last year. Every cucumber this year looks beautiful but tastes very bitter and is inedible. I believe I am providing adequate water, though due to the heat the plants still wilt during the day. What can I do to improve the flavor? ” Lisa of Marietta, Pennsylvania
Answer: There are two things that can cause cucumbers to become bitter – the cultivated variety and environmental stress (heat stress, water stress, or disease). A great Oregon State University (OSU) article on the subject quotes the vegetable breeder, Jim Myers of OSU. He explains that the source of cucumber bitterness is caused by the natural plant chemical, cucurbitacin. It exists in high quantities in the leaves and stems of cultivated cucumbers. During stressful summers, concentrations can build up at different levels in the cucumber fruits as well; often at the blossom end. What’s odd is that sometimes a single plant may have some bitter fruits and some nice-tasting cucumbers, so taste each one to double-check before composting. The same plant may also produce sweeter fruits as growing conditions become better.
Non-Bitter Cucumber Varieties
Some varieties tend to reliably produce sweet cucumbers, even under stress. Here are five excellent cucumbers that resist bitterness.
‘Katrina‘- The crisp, seedless, Beit-Alpha-type cucumber is also very disease-resistant and stays sweet.
‘Green Light‘ – There is a reason that this cucumber was a 2020 All-America Selections winner. Its fruits are crisp, sweet, prolific, and resist bitterness.
‘Marketmore 97‘ – This classic, disease-resistant cucumber is known for its ability to stay sweet, even when stressed.
‘Unagi’ – After reading about this one, I plan to grow it next year. Its hybrid cucumbers are crisp, sweet, and very prolific.
I also recommend that you watch the video below to learn how to grow cucumbers to perfection. I know that it can be difficult in years where high heat, drought, and even excess rain are problems, but the video contains some good growing tips.
Variety selection is also an important consideration. Some vegetable and fruit varieties are plumper and juicier than others, so make sure that you choose those that are described as being large, juicy, and flavorful. For example, go for big beefsteak tomatoes rather than standard tomatoes, and choose extra blocky pepper varieties rather than thinner-walled types. (Click here to learn more about growing prize beefsteak tomatoes.)
One more tip: Refrain from overwatering when fruits are nearly ripe. Excess water late in the fruiting stage can cause fruit splitting and water down the flavor. This is especially the case with tomatoes and melons.
Vegetable gardening is on the rise. Gardeners of all experience levels and backgrounds are growing their own food, whether they live in urban environments or spacious suburbs and countrysides. Those living where space is limited have extra challenges, which means that they must garden differently to produce enough food to enjoy all season. Here are some of the ways that we have used to grow fresh food where space and sunshine are at a premium.
Plant in Spacious Pots
If you have a sunny balcony or patio with just enough space for a couple of pots, choose the largest, deepest pots that will fill the space. Large containers (22 to 24 inches minimum) Let gardeners grow more produce, and they have deeper reservoirs for soil and water to encourage more root growth and reduce the need to water as often. The pots must have good drainage and be filled with a quality mix, such as Black Gold® Natural and Organic Raised Bed & Potting Mix. A couple of large pots, or one long, deep raised pot, will be vastly more productive than several smaller ones, so go big! (Click here for more tips on growing potted vegetables.)
Gardeners with a little more space, like a small, sunny rear patio or yard, should consider growing one or more vertical gardens. Clever vertical planters are being designed to allow lots of vegetables to be grown in a small space. There are also plenty of DIY vertical garden designs to consider if you are the creative type. Whether you choose a premade product or go for a less expensive make-your-own vertical garden, make sure that the design allows for easy irrigation, holds enough soil for plants to grow well, and will last for a long time.
Smaller vegetables and fruits are made for container growing, so choose varieties better suited to pot culture. This includes non-vining bush tomatoes, such as ‘Mountain Merit‘ and ‘Celebrity‘, both AAS winners. The tiny, cute cherry tomato Tempting Tomatoes® Patio Sunshine is another excellent choice. These are just a few of the many quality little tomatoes available. Tiny bush basils are fun to grow at the base of potted tomatoes. Windowbox Mini from Renee’s Garden Seeds is a superior little basil that’s very easy to start from seed.
There are plenty of other compact bush vegetables, such as ‘Bush Pickle‘ cucumber, the little butternut ‘Butterbush‘, and compact zucchini ‘Fordhook‘. If you like melons, the compact ‘Minnesota Midget‘ cantaloupe and short-vined watermelon ‘Bush Sugar Baby‘ both grow well sprawling from a large pot. Strawberries of all types are great for pots. The beautiful Berried Treasure® strawberries, with their double pink, red, or white blossoms, also yield delicious sweet berries through summer.
Some vegetables and fruits grow beautifully in large hanging baskets. As with the pots, go big to minimize watering and maximize performance. The best vegetables for hanging are cascaders, such as compact tomatoes, strawberries, dwarf cucumbers, and peppers. The new, compact Pot-a-Peño jalapeño pepper is ideal for hanging baskets. This variety is also a 2021 AAS award winner, so it is sure to perform well.
Rotate Potted Vegetables
Vegetable gardening is a dynamic process. Gardeners have to shift from cool-season spring vegetables to warm-season summer vegetables back to cool-weather crops. In between, smart gardeners rotate their crops to continue the harvest and encourage garden health. Plan to harvest and plant, harvest and plant until fall to boost your garden’s yields and diversity of crops. Seasonal planting and rotation keep soil diseases and pests from taking hold. (Click here to learn more about rotating vegetables.)
Maintain to Maximize Production
Place containers and gardens where they get maximum sunlight. Eight hours a day or more is recommended. Start with great soil that holds water well, has ample air space, and drains well. Black Gold®Natural & Organic Potting Mix is ideal for growing all types of vegetables in containers and it is OMRI Listed® for organic gardening. It’s wise to add a little Black Gold Earthworm Castings Blend 0.8-0.0-0.0, which is rich in nitrogen, to pots with greens and herbs. Change a pot’s soil every two to three years because peat-based potting mixes break down, lose structure, and acidify over time.
Fertilize regularly to encourage the best growth and production. Lots of vegetables are “heavy feeders”, which means they deplete nutrients from the soil fast. Apply a slow-release fertilizer formulated for vegetable gardening at the start of the season. For heavy feeders, like tomatoes, follow up with applications of a water-soluble fertilizer formulated for vegetables. This is especially important to do just before the fruits develop.
Lack of water is the main cause of container vegetable failure. During the hottest days of summer, daily water will likely be needed, especially if your pots are in the full, hot sun. At watering time, water until its starts to run out of the pot drain holes. This indicates that the container is saturated. Thorough watering encourages deeper root development and stronger, more stable plants.
My first spring salad pots were grown in large, inexpensive plastic containers that I bought from the garden center. I filled them with some Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Mix and added a little fertilizer. They performed so well that I couldn’t believe it. Just a few pots provided delicious salads through spring, so this year I decided to redo this year’s salad containers with a little more flair.
I took it up a notch by creating suites of well-paired greens and herbs for custom-made salad containers–one with an Asian theme, another French, and the last for the Italian palate. Large (18″ or 24″) pots are ideal for these plantings. This will ensure that you can plant enough vegetables in each pot to make several spring salad bowls. As I said, I planted mine in Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Mix, but this year I plan to try Black Gold Raised Bed & Planting Mix. Both mixes are OMRI Listed for organic gardening. My plant food of choice is a slow-release fertilizer for vegetable growing, though I often hit my plants with some water-soluble fertilizer a week after planting to help them take off.
About the blend – This is a two-pot salad mix because Chinese cabbages are bulky. I am confident that the outcome will be worthy of a very tasty sesame salad dressing. The crisp, flavorful Chinese cabbage will combine nicely with the mustardy kick of the mizuna, the mild green-onion flavor of the bunching scallions along with the crunchy, sweet taste and bright color of the red romaine.
Planting tips– I recommend filling one pot with three Chinese cabbage heads with a sprinkling of mizuna around the exterior. Another pot can contain the romaine with scallions planted along the side. Be sure to space the scallions 2-3 inches apart. I always start cabbage, scallions, and lettuce plants indoors several weeks before planting outdoors. I start the seeds in 4-inch pots under grow lights. (Click here for growing tips.) Then I acclimate my seedlings to cool spring temperatures in my enclosed back porch. Scallions are often tender and slender at planting time, so be gentle with them and don’t plant their bulbs too deeply. One-half inch is perfect. The mizuna is a mustard green that can directly be sown in the pots at the time when you plant your seedlings–generally in late March or early April in my USDA Hardiness Zone 7 garden.
About the blend -The sweetness of the snap peas and butter lettuce blend well with the slight heat of the fresh French breakfast radishes. Chervil is added to provide a fresh, slightly anise flavor–much like the flavor of fennel. Together they taste very excellent with a classic French dijon vinegarette. If you are not partial to uncooked snap peas, try blanching them for a minute and then immersing them in an ice-water bath.
Planting tips– I recommend three large pots for this salad blend–one for the peas (a tomato cage makes an easy pea trellis), one for the radishes, and one for the butter lettuce with two chervil plants on the side. It is best to start the chervil and lettuce indoors under grow lights, as recommended for the greens above. The radishes and peas can be directly sown in the pots. Surface-sow the radish seeds and cover them with 1/8 inch of potting mix. Plant them in circular rows 6 inches apart and then thin them to 3 inches apart after they have sprouted. The peas should be planted in a circle at a distance of 3 inches apart and 1 inch below the soil surface. Time everything well, keeping in mind that the peas and greens need more time than the fast-growing radishes.
About the blend – The bitter bite of the chicory tastes nice with the sweet crunch of the romaine lettuce and sweetness of the baby beets. Chioggia beets are candy-striped with red and white bands inside, so they are as beautiful as they are delicious. The three taste very good with honey balsamic vinegarette and shaving of Parmesan cheese.
Planting tips– Two large pots are sufficient for this salad blend–one for the chicory and romaine lettuce, and one for the beets. The lettuce and chicory can be started as seedlings indoors, using the same recommendations for the two previous gardens. The beets should be directly sown in the pots. Keep in mind that the beets may germinate more slowly in cool weather, so you may want to plant them a week earlier than recommended on the packet.
To learn more about great lettuce varieties, please watch this helpful video!
“I have 4 raised beds, each 16′ x 3.75′ (60 SF ea.) I live in Georgetown, TX Zone 8. I have attempted to set up the planting plans for each bed for a 4-year rotation. This spring garden, going in now:
Bed 1: Garlic (planted last 11/1), and Kale. The Kale is still producing, and the garlic will be harvested in June. The Kale will be replaced with 4 cucumbers (on trellis) and 2 Zucchinis near the end of March.
Bed 2: This will have 18 hills of potatoes (planting tomorrow), and 30 stalks of sweet corn (mid-March).
Bed 3: Red & White Onions on one side, Lettuces & Arugula in the middlemost section, Shallots on the other side.
Bed 4: (had clover growing all winter, which I turned over a few weeks ago), Tomatoes over 2/3rds of Bed, with Sweet Basil going in mid to late March, and one end having carrots (just planted)
I am interested in knowing what to plant in the fall for each bed, and then the following seasons… I have a document with what I think should work from a rotation and companion standpoint, but I am not sure. I would really like to dialog with you to understand better the best approach so the beds can be productive throughout the growing seasons. I hope I have not put too much into this field.” Question from Russ of Georgetown, Texas
Answer: You have a very detailed plan, and it seems like you have everything under control. Still, as requested, I will try to answer your questions.
Heavy-Feeding Versus Ligh-Feeding Crops
In general, you want to follow up heavy-feeding crops that are disease-prone, like tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, and corn, with low feeding crops, like greens and small root crops, as well as nitrogen-fortifying legumes, like peas and beans. Heavy feeders should be placed on at least a three-year cycle. Four years is even better! Your clover winter cover crop is an outstanding choice that naturally adds nitrogen to the soil, like its close relatives, beans and peas.
The growing season can be started and ended with cool-season crops of all kinds. Good fall root crops that like cooler weather include beets, winter carrots, parsnips, radishes, rutabagas, and turnips (click here to learn more about growing winter root crops.) Cole crops are also big cool-season vegetables. The best for fall are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, and kale. Finally, cool-season greens and herbs are outstanding for fall, winter, and spring. Try arugula, lettuce, mache, and radicchio as well as parsley, winter savory, thyme, sage, and chives. Peas are an outstanding cool-season crop for late winter or spring down in Texas.
Sometimes it is also nice to clean up and cover vegetable beds with compost for the season and give them a rest.
“My raised bed gardens were a disaster this year! Mildew, cabbage worms, rodents – even though I thought I had great organic soil mix and high enough barriers. What can I do this fall to get a great start next spring?” Question from Glenda of Sewell, New Jersey
Answer: I am sorry to hear that your vegetable garden was a downer this year. Different pests and diseases need to be dealt with in different ways. Here are some recommendations and resources.
Ways to Ward Off Vegetable Garden Pests and Disease
Clean up. The best way to ward off pests and diseases is to remove all plant material from your vegetable garden in fall and do the same in early spring when winter weeds abound. It removes the overwintering eggs of some pests as well as plant-borne diseases.
Plan for pests: If your cabbages have had cabbage worms in the past, expect the worms to return. Apply pre-emptive applications of safe, OMRI Listed BT spray to stop them in their tracks. By learning the life cycles of different pests that have plagued your garden in the past, you can plan precise strikes with the correct pesticides.
Give your plants a good head start. Choose (or raise) the healthiest plants you can. Large, robust seedlings have a greater chance of resisting pests and diseases and producing high yields. If growing plants from seed, be sure to give your seedlings plenty of light and room to develop stout, dense growth, and ample root systems. (Click here for seed-starting tips.)
I hope these tips help. You may also want to watch the video about overcoming powdery mildew below.
“Is it possible to grow squash in a container?” Question from Anne Marie of Napa, California
Answer: Bush squashes grow beautifully in large containers. In fact, I plan to plant a few in my garden this year. The key is making sure that you choose a compact, bush-forming variety. You can find bush zucchini, summer squash, pumpkins, and winter squash. I plant mine in containers that are at least 24-inches across and 12 to 18 inches deep. Here are my top varieties for container growing.
Favorite Bush Squash for Containers
Sunburst Scallop Summer Squash: Sunburst is a garden mainstay for me and is great to harvest at the baby stage. It is short-vined and produces lots of tasty yellow pattypan squash.
Wee-B-Little Pumpkins: Tiny Wee-B-Little pumpkins grow on very short vines that take well to container growing.
Honeybear Acorn Squash: Also on short, semi-bush vines, this AAS award-winning winter squash grows well in containers and is very sweet.
Max’s Gold Summer Squash: Here’s a classic golden summer squash that has few seeds, great flavor, and grows on compact bushes.
Squashes need full sun. I recommend planting yours in either Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Mix or Black Gold® Natural & Organic Flower and Vegetable Soil. Both are OMRI Listed for organic gardening. Plant two seeds in the center of each pot, about 1 to 2 inches down, and keep the seeds lightly watered until they sprout. Keep the most vigorous of the seedlings once it has started developing its true leaves–pluck out the other. Fertilize with a plant food formulated for vegetable growing once they begin to actively grow and keep the pot lightly moist. Never let it dry out severely.