Choosing simple vegetables to grow in containers is a great way to make the most of your polytunnel garden. If you are short on space (which of course many of us are in polytunnel gardens), container gardening can be a good way to go.
When you grow in containers, of course, you will have to put in a little more work. Container grown plants generally need more water, nutrients and TLC than plants grown in the ground. But the good news is that you are not actually that limited when it comes to what you can grow.
In fact, as long as the containers you choose are large enough, there are plenty of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers that you can grow. You can grow almost as many plants in containers as you can grow in the ground. But if you are new to container gardening, growing simple vegetables is a great place to start. Here are some top simple vegetables to grow in containers that you can get started with right away:
Lettuce grows so quickly that it can be a very satisfying thing to grow. And there are varieties that you can sow for a quick and easy crop pretty much all year round. For beginners, I would recommend loose leaf types, which you can cut and harvest repeatedly over the next few months.
Spinach & Chard
Other leafy crops are also great for growing in containers. Spinach and chard can both still be planted this month for a harvest later in the season, and as long as you take care of watering, and make sure it doesn’t get too hot in your polytunnel, you should find them easy and hassle free crops.
Brassicas (Kale, Cabbage etc..)
Brassicas are quite hungry plants, so it is important to make sure they have the nutrients they need. And you’ll have to keep them well-watered too. But as well as growing individual plants in containers, you can also consider growing brassicas for micro-greens – eating the leaves in salads etc. while they are still young. This is another great option for newbie gardeners.
Radishes are another great crop for containers. They don’t take up much space, and like many lettuces, they grow very quickly. Plant radishes a few at a time, successionally, so you can harvest little and often over the rest of the summer and into autumn. And consider leaving one to flower and harvest an abundance of radish pods.
Alliums are always relatively easy to grow in containers, and spring onions are probably the easiest of the lot. Remember, cut off the tops, leaving the roots in place, and the spring onions will regrow, giving you an extra yield with little additional effort on your part.
Carrots (And Other Root Crops)
Carrots (and other root crops like beetroot) can also be sown now for a container garden harvest later in the year. Plant carrots alongside members of the allium family, and this combination can help make your job easier. It will reduce the chances of a pest problem. Of course, these crops take longer to grow. But like other options on this list, are relatively easy to manage, and don’t take up too much space.
Potatoes are generally fairly space-hungry plants when grown in the ground. But you might be surprised to learn that you can also grow them in containers. This can really help you make the most of the space you have available. Plant some second earlies now, and you can have some new potatoes to eat with your Christmas dinner. But you will have to make sure you give the plants protection before the first frosts arrive.
Once you’ve mastered growing these simple vegetables in containers, the world will be your oyster. You will be able to go on to grow a wide range of common fruits, herbs and other plants as the seasons turn, and when next year arrives. Strawberries, fruit bushes, dwarf fruit trees and Mediterranean herbs are just some of the options I would highly recommend for new polytunnel gardeners.
What are you growing in containers in your polytunnel? Let us know in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.