I’ll be blunt; if you enjoy cooking, you owe it to yourself to have a garden. I realize not everyone has the space for a big garden in the backyard. An edible front porch garden or balcony garden is a lot more attainable. In fact, even if you do have space for a big garden, there are some distinct advantages to growing your herbs and veggies right outside your door.
For one, you don’t have to worry as much about deer, rabbits, and skunks eating your ripe tomatoes. You can snip some fresh rosemary without getting drenched in a rainstorm. Then there’s the fact that a front porch garden gives your home a lovely, fresh look.
What to grow, though? That’s always the question. Some vegetables grow better in containers than others. I love asparagus. There’s nothing like those first tender spears of the season grilled with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. But asparagus isn’t really a container vegetable.
The good news is that you still have a very wide selection of vegetables and herbs to choose from, many of which can thrive in containers. There’s even a hybrid variety of corn (Burpee’s On Deck Hybrid) that’s bred specifically for container gardens.
7+ Delicious herbs and veggies for a bountiful front porch garden
One thing that gets skipped a lot when we talk about a front porch garden or balcony garden is that space is limited. For taller or bushier plants, you’ll need larger containers, so bear that in mind when you consider which vegetables to grow. One approach for maximizing space is to plant more vegetables in a bigger pot rather than using multiple smaller pots. If you don’t plan to move your front porch garden around, that can work. Just remember that these larger containers can get really heavy.
It’s also worth mentioning that, especially with limited space, you should stick to vegetables you like. No matter how well cucumbers can grow in a container, if you don’t enjoy them either as cucumbers or as pickles, there’s no point in growing them. Now, however, on to the plants for an ideal edible garden.
1. Herbs. I’m listing herbs as one category here, even though there are plenty to choose from. Almost all of them grow well in containers, they’re usually easy to grow, and they enhance darn near any other vegetable you cook with. Personally, I like sage, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and chives. Those are the herbs I use most often when I cook, so it makes sense for me to grow them. I use a fair amount of mint, too, but there is a section of it that grows next to my house, and it seems to do just fine on its own. Seriously, I don’t even water it, and I still have plenty to make mint tea and use it in recipes.
2. Tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are a winner for container gardening, but you don’t have to limit yourself here. Determinate, or bush-type, tomatoes grow to about three or four feet tall and will produce wonderfully delicious fruits. These will require larger pots and probably some staking, but if you’ve ever enjoyed a Blak Krim or Chocolate Stripes tomato, you know it’s worth the work. (Pro Tip! Plant basil in the same pot to help deter garden pests.)
3. Lettuce. Leaf lettuce grows quickly and does very well in containers. You may never need to buy lettuce at the grocery store again.
4. Peas. Peas grow quickly, and they’re so darn good straight from the pod. If you could grow candy in a garden, it would be peas. Not to mention, pea greens are seriously tasty. The only catch here is that you have to keep an eye on the soil. Peas need a fair amount of moisture, and pots can dry out quickly. On the other hand, you don’t want to overwater, either.
5. Radishes. Some varieties of radishes are ready to harvest within three weeks of planting, but even slower-growing varieties like the heirloom Salad Rose only take about five weeks from seed to harvest. They also grow well in cool weather.
6. Beets. As long as you have a pot that’s 10-12 inches deep, you can grow beets. I enjoy beets quite a bit, but I LOVE beet greens. They’re slightly sweet and mild and versatile enough that you can substitute them for most other greens in a recipe.
7. Eggplant. We usually think of eggplants as rather large vegetables, but for a front porch garden, there are a few varieties that are bred to grow and produce well in containers. The Patio Baby will give you up to 50 tiny “baby” eggplants per plant. Or there’s the Fairy Tale eggplant, with four-inch variegated purple and white fruits.
Of course, there are a lot more vegetables you can plant in your front porch garden. Peppers, honeynut squash, zucchini, Swiss chard, kale, cucumbers, beans, arugula, carrots, and even Brussels sprouts can all grow well in containers.
So again, choose what you like to eat, and there is almost certainly a variety that you can plant in your balcony or front porch garden.
What are your favorite vegetables to grow in containers? I’d love to read your ideas in the comments below.