University of Georgia
Plants that mature small are best for growing vegetables from your apartment. Peppers, tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, spinach, radishes, green beans and carrots are smaller veggies that grow well in pots, said Bodie Pennisi, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension horticulturalist. Larger vegetables like eggplant, cucumbers and squash need larger containers but can also grow well in pots.
Herbs like basil, parsley, oregano and chilies can also be grown in an apartment garden. An herb like basil can be started indoors by a sunny window and then be moved outside.
The first thing to do is pick a sunny spot. Vegetables need to be outdoors and like a lot of sun. And most vegetables can be planted in a one-gallon pot, while larger vegetables may need to be planted in a two-gallon pot.
“Vegetables need to be planted in an appropriately sized container, one that provides adequate space for the root system to grow,” Pennisi said.
To better determine the size pot needed for a vegetable to grow properly, it is important to know how large the mature plant is going to be.
Eggplants, for instance, should be planted in a two-gallon pot with only one plant per pot. They need more root space, and their end product is larger. Tomatoes and peppers only need a one-gallon pot, while radishes are small enough that more than one can be planted in a pot.
After choosing a pot, buy or mix your own soil. Pennisi also said to mix in some granule soil as well. When filling containers with soil do not pack the soil tightly, but rather let the soil settle. This allows space for water to thoroughly saturate the soil and roots.
If you plant a seedling, make sure to thoroughly wet the roots before putting it in the soil, and set them shallowly rather than deeply. If starting out with seeds, don’t bury them deeply. Instead, place seeds close to the top and cover them with a little bit of soil.
Vegetables need a soluble fertilizer once a week. Look for fertilizers that show a 20-20-20 or 15-30-15 mixture on the label. Liquid feed can also be used.
Remember, vegetables dry out very quickly. When plants grow larger, they need watering every day.
“Never let plants dry out between watering,” Pennisi said. “This will cause them to drop flowers and fruit. Always make sure the soil is moist.”
Watering is a balancing. Too much water may cause damage if there is not enough oxygen in the roots, Pennisi said.
As long as veggies are planted at the right time they should be fine outdoors unless there is a late frost. Cover plants with a tarp to protect them from the cold if there is a late frost.
If you maintain good water and fertilization and keep plants healthy, potted vegetables grown on your porch are just as tasty as ones grown in the ground.
“Flavor is related to overall conditions rather than where vegetables are planted,” Pennisi said. “It is a matter of good gardening practices rather than if the plant is in a pot or in the ground.”
(Allie Byrd is a writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)