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The Best Vegetables for Container Gardening in Tough Planting Zones

What are the best vegetables for container gardening? That might depend on where you live.

There are some plants and vegetables I love that, no matter how many positive vibes I put out into the universe, will never grow in or around my house. Banana trees, for example, won’t grow outdoors where I live. And I just don’t have the right light to grow them indoors, though I have friends who grow them. 

A lot of vegetables (and fruits), however, will grow just fine in containers under the right conditions. And some of the best vegetables for container gardening might even surprise you if you live in one of those tougher planting zones. 

Of course, you could crank the heat, buy a few dozen grow lights, and have a phenomenal indoor garden. Realistically speaking, though, most of us aren’t going to do that. A few grow lights, maybe, but my neighbors already suspect I’m growing pot when I turn the 18-hour lights on for germination every spring.

If you live in one of the higher latitude planting zones, and you love gardening, there’s still a lot you can grow. But if you want to open up to even more possibilities, container gardening is your go-to choice. 

Discover 7 top tips for growing, harvesting, and enjoying tomatoes from your home garden—when you access the FREE guide The Best Way to Grow Tomatoes, right now!

10 of the best vegetables for container gardening when you live somewhere less warm and sunny

I used to love container gardening when I lived in apartments. I could turn a tiny balcony in the city into the garden of Eden. There are so many advantages to it, especially if you don’t have a yard or if you need to move your plants indoors to keep them out of frost. 

Actually, that’s one important thing to bear in mind. Either put your containers on wheels or keep them small enough that you can pick them up and move them. Even the best vegetables for container gardening won’t work out very well if you can’t move them inside when you need to. But on to the veggies. 

1. Arugula. Arugula is ideal for growing in cooler climates. To begin with, it’s ready to harvest about 45 days after planting. It also likes cooler weather, and it doesn’t need a ton of sunlight. 

2. Beets. I dig beets (pun intended). The entire plant is edible and delicious. Beets do well in containers and only need around 55 days to mature. 

3. Garlic. Okay, technically, this is a spice, but I’m including it as one of the best vegetables for container gardening because you literally bury your clove and forget about it. Come spring, you have fresh garlic popping up!

4. Kale. This should be of little surprise for kale lovers. This hardy green is well-known for its love of cool weather. In fact, kale is even sweeter after a frost or two, and can handle temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. 

5. Lettuce. Leaf lettuce grows quickly, and like kale, it sweetens up a bit when the temperature drops.

6. Onions. Start these indoors in late winter, move your pots outdoors around early May, and by mid-June, you’ll have delicious, juicy onions straight from the garden.

7. Radishes. The great thing about radishes is that they grow so quickly. You only need about three weeks between the time you plant radish seeds and harvest delicious, peppery radishes. 

8. Spinach. Spinach isn’t just one of the best vegetables for container gardening in harsh zones, it actually does better here than in warm climates. Spinach is good, down to around 20 degrees. 

9. Sugar Snap Peas. Bush varieties of this sweet treat grow well in containers, and the plant can survive a light frost. The peas are ready to harvest in about 70 days, but don’t forget that pea greens are super yummy, too!

10. Turnips. Personally, I don’t think turnips get the acclaim they should. The root is fantastic roasted with other root veggies, you can eat the greens just like you would any other green, and the entire plant is incredibly nutritious. Bonus! Some varieties of turnips are ready to harvest in as little as 35 days!

There are a lot more veggies you can grow in containers, but I think these are some of the best vegetables for container gardening since they grow quickly, are generally forgiving, and most are pretty versatile in the kitchen. 

Do you have a favorite container vegetable that’s suited for tougher planting zones? 

Discover 7 top tips for growing, harvesting, and enjoying tomatoes from your home garden—when you access the FREE guide The Best Way to Grow Tomatoes, right now!

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