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Departments » UW Extension » Urban Horticulture & Natural Resources
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Natural Resources Pro


Article of the Week
(Originally published in the Green Bay Press-Gazette on March 20, 2017)

Vegetable Varieties for Container Gardening
Traditional gardening requires ample space, sunlight, and time commitment for plant maintenance. But if you’re limited by space and time, consider growing vegetables in containers. Growing plants in containers offers multiple advantages – it’s easy to accommodate container plants in any unsuitable spot like a window sill, balcony, deck, or doorstep. Get a head start in raising vegetables in early spring as the soil media in the container warms up quickly. In case of frost, containers can be housed in a temporary protected spot or can be covered with a blanket or floating row cover. Traditional garden soil has issues related to compaction, soil borne diseases, overwintering insects, and weeds which can be avoided in premixed container soil that is loose and well drained and provides a clean start for plant growth. Overall, container gardening is simple, versatile, almost easy to maintain, and accessible for all ages and abilities.

However, container gardening has some limitations. Plants in containers need frequent watering especially during the hot, dry summer season. Large size containers (> 5 gallons) are heavy and may not be easily portable. Due to size and volume restriction, not all standard varieties are suitable to plant in containers. For successful container gardening, it is important to choose the right type of containers, plant varieties, soil mix, and water and fertilizer schedule.

Selecting the right containers: Choosing the right kind of container can accommodate the mature plant’s shoot and root needs and provide stability for upright growth. Plastic buckets, broken wheel barrows, wooden barrels, plastic trash bags, and trash containers can be recycled for container gardening use. Porous materials like terra cotta clay pots, ceramic clay pots, and hypertufa troughs need a little more attention to watering as they tend to dry out more quickly than plastic containers. It is best to choose a light color container rather than dark ones as they tend to absorb more heat and could stress out the roots. It is critical to have sufficient drainage holes at the bottom sides to drain out excess water. To ease the free flow of the excess water from the drainage holes, its best to place the container on a slightly elevated base like bricks or paving stones.

Containers should also have the right depth and volume to support the entire plant growth. For smaller plants like leaf lettuce, onion sets, peas, radishes, garlic, cilantro, and spinach, use at least a 2-gallon container that is 4-6”deep. For larger plants like tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, eggplant, cucumbers, and beans, use at least a 5-gallon container with a depth of 8-12 inches.

Selecting the right varieties: Dwarf and compact varieties are well-suited for a container and look attractive. Following is the compiled list of vegetable varieties suitable for container gardening referenced from selected seed catalogs and University of Illinois extension publication:

Tomatoes – Jetstar, Celebrity, Super Bush, Pixie, Patio Paste, Cherry Punch, Power Pops, Cherries Jubilee, Patio Princess, Bush Early Girl, Bush Big Boy, Sweetheart of the Patio, Maglia Rosa, Baby Boomer, Tumbler, Cherry Falls, Husky Red, Lizzano, Peardrops, Pony Express, Primo Red, Terenzo, Tumbling Tom Red, Tumbling Tom Yellow, Bush Steak, Baby Boomer

Eggplants – Patio Baby, Hansel, Gretel, Ivory, Ophelia, Pinstripe, Dusky, Early Midnight

Bean – Mascotte, Topcrop, Tendercrop, Derby, Eureka, Porch Pick

Cucumber – Patio Snacker, Salad Bush, Space Master, Champion, Iznik

Pepper – Cajun Belle, Cayennetta, Mariachi, New Ace, Orange Blaze, Cute Stuff Red, Lady Bell, Gypsy, Crispy, Red Chili, Cherry Stuffer, Tangerine Dream, Sweet Golden Baby Belle

Radish – French Breakfast, Red Satin, Champion, Comet, Sparkler, White Icicle, Early Scarlet Globe, Rido Red, D’Avignon

Carrot – Paris Market, Little Finger, Danver's Half Long, Nantes Half Long, Yaya

Peas – Peas in a Pot

Beets – Ruby Queen, Detroit Dark Red Med Top, Burpee’s Golden, Chioggia

Okra – Jambalaya, Carmine Splendor, Clemson Spineless

Swiss Chard – Bright Lights, Peppermint, Fordhook Giant, Lucullus

Squash – Supersett, Multipik, Golden Zebra

In addition, many herbs and salad greens are perfectly suitable for containers.

Soil mix, watering, and fertilization: For container gardening, it is best to use soilless mixes that contain peat, perlite, and a slow release fertilizer. Check the soil moisture status in the media daily. If the top one inch of the container media seems too dry, water thoroughly at the base of the plant until excess water drains out of the drainage holes. Morning is the best time to water. Use organic mulch to conserve soil moisture in the media. Move the containers to a protected area during strong windy days. Before planting, incorporate fast-releasing fertilizer into the soilless mix. Depending on the type of vegetables, the fertilization schedule during the growing season varies from 2-8 week intervals.

For horticulture-related questions and advice, contact Brown County UW-Extension’s Horticulture Help Desk at 920-391-4615 or


2017 All-America Selection Vegetable Winners
After extensive plant field trials across the country, All-America Selections (AAS) announces the best performing vegetable winners for this year. These winners are selected based on their trial garden performance in North America for fruit quality, yield, pest and disease resistance, and overall growth. You can find the seed sources of these
award winning varieties at Click here to learn more about this topic.

Winter Houseplant Care
Houseplants add life and beauty to our home and office environments. Their vivid colors, textures, and fragrances serve as a natural stress reliever, filter indoor air pollutants, and gratify the winter gardening urge.
Many houseplants are from tropical regions where they like abundant sunshine, warm and humid conditions. With shortened day length and cooler temperatures in fall and winter, many tropical houseplants shed their leaves and lose their vibrant color. But with a few indoor modifications, you can help the tropical plants to thrive through the winter season. CLICK here to learn more about this topic.
Prevent Vole Damage in the Landscape
Freezing nights and shortening daylight in the fall has tranquilized most of our landscape except the insatiable meadow mouse that remains active throughout the year. Meadow mice, also called voles, are a ground dwelling rodent with a chunky grayish brown appearance, tiny ears, and short tail. Commencing from late fall to early spring, voles cause multiple damage in the landscape. Squirrely runways and endless tunnels in lawns, shaved tree bark and roots of young trees, and the mysterious disappearance of spring flowering bulbs and tubers are classic blueprints of vole damage. Under snow cover, voles can venture safely to any part of the landscape, and quite often homeowners do not notice the damage until the snow melts. CLICK here to learn more about this topic.

Horticulture Help Desk Services
We offer free consultations on lawn care advice, insect and disease diagnosis, and plant and insect identification. We also address tree and shrub problems as well as help you select the plants that are best suited to your needs and site. Soil tests and advanced diagnosis services are available for a fee.

Bring your live or digital specimen to the Horticulture Help Desk:

1150 Bellevue Street, Green Bay, WI 54302
Hort Help Desk Phone: 920-391-4615

The UW-Extension Office is open Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4:30 PM.
If a horticulture staff member is not available when you call or visit, messages and samples can be left with UW-Extension reception, and a staff member will contact you.

We are here to serve you by connecting the University system, Master Gardener volunteers, and you - Northeast Wisconsin residents - to help things grow.

Contact:  Vijai Pandian - Horticulture Educator
Phone: 920-391-4611
Fax: 920-391-4617
Click here to email
Mailing Address:  Agriculture & Extension Service Center
1150 Bellevue Street
Green Bay, WI 54302
Hours:  Monday - Friday, 8 AM - 4:30 PM
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