Novice gardener looking to grow fruit/veg in containers

Hi Everyone,

I'm looking for any/all good advice on growing edible fruit and veg in containers.

I have a small patio garden so pots are my only option and we can't drill into the wall of the house so no window boxes. We do have a short fence on one side and a trellis on the other so a climber is an option. We also don't have anywhere to bring plants inside in the winter so they would need to be hardy enough to survive outside although our garden is walled and quite sheltered.

We've only just moved in so i missed the growing session this year and i want to make sure i am fully prepared for next year! I work full time so low maintenance stuff would be preferable.

I did manage to bring a few plants from the old house so i already have:
- 3 troughs of tomatoes
- 2 Jalapeno Chilli plants
- 1 pot of garlic (found it sprouting in the fridge and figured it was worth a shot!)
- 2 Gooseberry bushes - 1 red and 1 green (bought in the sale as they were passed fruiting this year but hopefully will give me some fruit next year)
- 2 pots of strawberry plants (all the fruit was eaten by ants before it even got ripe despite surrounding the pots with ant powder!)

At the moment the tomatoes and chillies are fruiting but our garden is a total sun trap from about 11am-4pm and the troughs were too shallow to retain much moisture so they have suffered a bit despite watering twice a day. So i know i need to put them in larger pots next year.

I have also started growing herbs on the kitchen windowsill although they are only seedlings at the moment
- Basil - seems to be going quite well
- Parsley - some died after re-potting but others are doing ok
- Chives - Seems to be struggling but i'm not sure why as i did everything the same as with the others. I may have to start these again.
  • Does anyone have any suggestions of other high yield fruits/veg that grow well in pots?
  • I have been given a large pot (est 40 cms diameter) and i'm thinking maybe a blueberry bush?
  • I've heard lot about raspberries being easy to grow but do they work in containers?
  • I was thinking of using the shallower troughs to grow spring onions next year?
  • I was thinking about buying living chives from the summer market and planting them up (Although it's cheating!). Are they likely to survive? or do they only live a few weeks from the supermarket?
  • Any other advice for a novice would be appreciated!:)

Thanks in advance


  • Linda32Linda32 Forumite
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    It is nice to grow you own :) tastes better doesn't it ;)

    You need to grow the tomatoes fresh every year. It doesn't matter that you don't have a green house or anywhere to shelter them. They just fruit one year and die. Sorry if you are aware of that, but it sounds as if you have bought them to keep :o

    Never grown chilies so can't help with those.

    Garlic will overwinter just fine and actually needs the cold weather to grow. You harvest this around June when the growth above ground appears to die off.

    The Gooseberry bushes should be fine in pots.

    The pots of strawberries will be good in pots outside all year round as well. You can pot up the runners as well to make new plants :T

    If you do go for a blueberry bush, you need ericaceous compost and preferably rain water for watering. If you can find something to collect it in (a bucket) then water with this.

    These no difference chives you grow yourself or a pot you buy from the supermarket :D buy whichever you like. I buy the cut and come again salad leaves for £1. I don't like it myself but OH does. I would say I cut it down three times so they are well worth it.
    Its easier grown on the windowsill as well since its clean, rather than in the ground or pot.

    Courgettes do well in pots as well, and you only need one or two plants of these.

    Hope that helps.
  • Hi Linda32,
    Thanks for the reply. I hope it tastes better! I haven't really gotten that far yet! As my mother-in-law says "I just love the romance of growing my own food"

    I do know tomatoes will die off but looking back my post does read like i was going to keep them! My colleague at work grows them from seed and gives me some of her extra plants each year so I've grown them (mostly successfully) for a couple of years. I just meant that next year i'll use different troughs :)

    That's great news about the garlic as we use a lot in our house and if i can grow enough next year to save buying much that will save a few pennies!

    I wasn't sure if the strawberries would die off so it's good to know i won't need to get new ones next year. Just need to fight the ants! I've "tied down" a couple of runners to small pots this morning so i'll see if they take. I might try a hanging basket next year and see if that keeps them away from the pests.

    Great i'll nip down the shops and get a head start with the chives! I've never seen cut and come again salad in the supermarket but that's a great idea! Now i'm hoping i've got enough windowsills! Do you re-pot the salad or just leave it in the tray it comes in?

    Ooh Courgettes are a great idea. We love courgettes in Spag Bol and i've frozen them before too. (They went a bit mushy but tasted fine once it was all mixed in)

    Thanks for the advice!
  • FarwayFarway Forumite
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    If growing the strawbs, or anything, in pots read up on Vine Weevils

    they love strawberry plant roots in pots, and fuschias too

    Chillies trat as toms, but need more warmth IMO
  • Linda32Linda32 Forumite
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    I bought the cut and come again leaves in Sainsburys. Just assumed they all sold the same thing :question: I leave it in the tray it comes in. I did grow lettuce like this as well. Grown like this it just doesn't bulk out. So you get the leaves but not a full lettuce. Sow it in rows still with gapes so its easy to see the lines and cut.

    I freeze courgettes as well. Yes they are quite wet when they defrost but if your using them in tomatoes based things it doesn't matter anyway.

    Saying that, I make naan bread pizza, using a naan bread as the base and cubes of courgette with either mushrooms chorizo sausage and they are fine like this as well.
  • edited 27 August 2016 at 4:27PM
    elsienelsien Forumite
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    edited 27 August 2016 at 4:27PM
    I grow herbs, courgettes (got munched by something this year), strawberries, chillis, mange tout, cucumber, tomatoes, salad leaves, radishes and spring onions in pots. I sometimes do first early potatoes although the time it takes probably isn't worth the space they take up. The chilli plant comes indoors to overwinter.
    Gave up on carrots and onions as they weren't earning their space and sweet corn needed too much watering. You could also consider chard and other leaves. I've also done kale in the past but had to net it or it got seriously caterpillared.
    Oh, forgot the leeks for over the winter.
    Coriander as an annual is good - you can freeze it and use when you need.
    Oregano will overwinter fine, if you use that. Mint, but need to keep it watered over the winter, and sage also keeps going from year to year.
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Forumite
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    Some great suggestions so far. Just wanted to add - I found growing Little Gem lettuce in pots worked really well (as well as other salad leaves).
  • Thanks everyone. I really appreciate all the ideas!
    I've got a rough plan drawn up for next year and i'm scouring boot sales and charity shops to get some big enough pots for all my plans! :)
  • Courgettes and squashes can be grown up supports and tied in like peas, although the fruit may need supporting while growing.
  • PrimrosePrimrose Forumite
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    If you grow tomatoes in pots use a pot at least 12"x12" deep and wide and plant tumbling varieties (Tumbling Tom. Red or yellow). They grow as a low bush no taller than one foot high and are very prolific. You don't have to stake them or remove the side shoots as these bush out and grow more tomatoes on them.

    Try to acquire deeper bigger pots to reduce watering and at the beginning of each growing season mix in some water retention crystals. i also mix in some kitchen vegetable scraps which rot down in the compost to provide nutrients. If you have very shallow containers you can grow pea shoots for salads with very little compost. Just use the Whitworth's dried soup peas and sprinkle them on damp compost. In a deep container you could stick three or four long bamboo canes and grow climbing French or runner beans. For a decorative plant try a couple of deep pots of curly kale to eat during the winter. This plant also comes in a dark red variety if you want to add some colour.
  • SmodletSmodlet Forumite
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    We too, have grown courgettes in pots and in the ground this year. It was pot luck (sorry) which plants did best. Some in pots did great, some did nothing (the yellow ones) Some in the ground did great, others very little.

    Runner beans. Oh yeah. Again, you need a big pot, 12" square x 12" deep. Put one six foot cane in each corner and, if you feel lucky, another in the middle, and grow two plants up each cane, in case of failures. You could even start them off in small pots on the window sill/against the warmest wall in one of those temporary plastic-bag green house thingies. Sow more than you need to allow for failures and plant when big enough. I was amazed how many the pot-grown ones produced but the ones in the ground did do a bit better.

    You can prep, blanch and freeze them very easily indeed. Next year, you could be having runner beans with your Christmas dinner, if you wanted.

    HTH and good luck.
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