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Get the Dirt on Vegetables You Can Grow without a Garden

Growing your own vegetables is a great way to stay healthy, save money, and get your whole family excited about nutritious food. But what if you don’t have a yard or space for a garden? Container gardens, or growing your vegetables in pots, is the perfect solution! Grow your favorite vegetables or test out your green thumb with something you’ve never tried before.

Using Pots as Garden Containers

Many vegetables can be as successful in pots as they are in the ground. Be sure to select a container or pot with holes in the bottom. This will allow excess water to drain. Generally, potted plants will dry out faster than they would in the ground, so be ready to water often! Check out SDSU Extension’s Container Garden Tips for more great tips.

When choosing containers, don’t forget to have some fun and get creative. Let kids pick their own containers and their own vegetables. Recycle, upcycle and let the ideas grow! Here’s a short list to get you started:

Old rain boots. When your kids outgrow their colorful boots, poke a small hole in the bottom. Fill with potting soil and drop in a few seeds. Line them up in a playful row, hang them or stash them between other pots.

Used garden tools or kitchen items. Watering cans, wheelbarrows, teapots, or coffee cans can all make great vegetable containers.

Old tires. Paint the outside bright colors and fill the inside with potting soil. You can even stack to create a container garden with varying heights. Vegetables that Grow Well in Pots


It’s impossible to think about gardening without thinking about tomatoes! If you notice your tomato plants growing quickly, consider finding a cage that fits your pot so the plant can climb. This will reduce rot and ensure you have larger fruit!

How to tell when it’s time to harvest:
Between bloom and when the tomato starts to ripen is about 30 days. They’re ending color when ripe will vary depending on the variety you planted. They may be red, yellow, pink, purple-black, white, or green! Also, depending on the variety, the fully ripened size can vary between the size of a blueberry and a grapefruit.

Salad Greens & Herbs

An easy home-grown addition to your meals is salad greens or herbs. There are many varieties that are perfect to use as a staple ingredient in your dish or for an extra burst of flavor. An added bonus is the cost savings! Some salad greens and herbs that do well in pots are:

  • Arugula
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Spinach

How to tell when it’s time to harvest:
From seed to harvest, timing can range between 35–45 days, depending on what green you’re growing. Reference the seed packet you used to find the exact timing.


Cucumbers are a crisp and crunchy addition to salads, sandwiches, and much more! They are a refreshing, cool compliment to almost any summer meal.

How to tell when it’s time to harvest:
From seed to harvest, timing can range from 50–70 days. Pick your vegetable from the vine when it’s reached its desired size. Make sure to harvest them from the vine before they get too large, or you’ll the other cucumbers on the vine will suffer.


Don’t let their bitter taste when raw fool you. The flavor changes completely when cooked! Radishes love shade, so they’re ideal if you don’t have a lot of direct sunlight.

How to tell when it’s time to harvest:
From seed to harvest, timing can range from 21-29 days, which is pretty fast. To tell if the radish is ready to eat, simply pull one out of your pot. If it’s about 1” wide, it’s ready!


Grow sweet or hot peppers (or even both!) to suit your palette. Plus, the color variety will look inspirational in your potted garden! They can be eaten raw, grilled, baked, or stir fried. You can find a place for peppers in nearly every recipe!

How to tell when it’s time to harvest:
From seed to harvest, timing can range from 65–85 days—so be sure to plant your peppers early in the season! When your peppers reach the desired color and size, cut the fruit from the plants.

Use gloves if you are harvesting a hot variety and be cautious in the kitchen when preparing them. The “hot” in peppers comes from capsaicin, a colorless, odorless, oil-like compound found in the flesh that holds the seeds. Use gloves and wash your hands thoroughly.

Bring Out Your Inner Farmer

Don’t let the absence of a yard hold you back from growing your own food! You can channel your gardening skills with a few pots on your front step, windowsill, deck, or patio. Choose your favorite vegetables or herbs, get creative with the containers, and invite the whole family to take part.

For more gardening and healthy food inspiration check out Garden Hour, Gardening with Kids and Tips for Shopping at Farmers Markets!

Sources: SDSU Extension, The Spruce, Gardening Know How