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Tasty plants for small spaces

Bonnie Plants purple basil in a container adds a bit of spice to a garden bed. Photo courtesy bonnieplants.com

Maybe you want to grow some of your own food, but you live in an apartment or a condo and with only a balcony or patio with limited space. Or maybe you only have a sunny front porch stoop, or your landscape has a lot of shade except for a few sunny spots among perennials or shrubs. Containers are the answer for growing food in these special spaces.

Almost all herbs thrive in containers, especially the summer flavors of basil, rosemary, parsley, stevia, chives, mints and lavender. Enjoy the herbs for the season and don’t worry about wintering them.

But for other edibles, not just any plant does well in a pot. Many will get too tall and required elaborate staking schemes to keep them from toppling over. Tomatoes and peppers fall into this group. Here are some varieties developed for container growing.

Patio Baby eggplant. Photo courtesy All-AmericaSelections.org

Patio Baby eggplant, a 2014 All-America Selections, is an early and highly productive variety with a compact habit. Harvest the deep purple, egg-shaped fruit at baby size, 2 to 3 inches. Roast them or use in dips and salads. Thornless leaves and calyxes allow for painless harvesting and make Patio Baby child-friendly, too. Plant produces fruit throughout the season.

Asian Delight pak choi. Photo courtesy All-AmericaSelections.org

Asian Delight pak choi or bok choy is perfect for the foodies looking for a highly rated Chinese cabbage. A 2018 All-America Selections was praised by judges for its tasty, tender white rib and dark green, textured leaves. Asian Delight forms 5 to 7 inch heads that are slow to go to seed, called bolting. That means the yield can be double or even higher than that of other pak choi varieties on the market.

Red Ember cayenne pepper is great for drying to produce the powder form. Photo courtesy All-AmericaSelections.org

Red Ember cayenne pepper is earlier to mature than some other varieties. Another 2018 AAS Winner, Red Ember produces a large number of rounded-end fruits on durable, medium-sized plants. Judges described the thick-walled fruits as spicy, but tastier than the traditional cayenne, with just enough pungency for interest.

Little Bing Cherry Tomato. Photo courtesy Ball Horticulture

Little Bing cherry tomato was very productive in a Smart Pot in my trial garden last year. It provided many tasty, 1-inch size tomatoes throughout most of the summer. It only gets about 2 feet tall, does not need supports and has good disease resistance.

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