If the saying is true that you eat with your eyes, then vegetable gardening is a foodie’s dream come true. You can walk out your door and a minute later pull up beets with eye-popping white and purple bull’s eye insides and radishes as black as night. But what I also find immensely satisfying about growing vegetables (besides the sheer coolness of black radishes and bull’s eye beets) is that you don’t need to be an expert gardener. Actually, you don’t even need a garden. And you can wait until the last minute to start your veg crops. There are lots of delicious veggie seeds that can be planted directly into a container or raised bed once any danger of frost has passed–no messing about with seed trays and transplanting.
Fast and easy sowing in containers
To get the last word on growing easy, direct sow veggies, I reached out to the experts at Halifax Seed. Having continuously operated as a family-owned Canadian seed company in the picturesque Nova Scotia port for the past 150 years, these folks know their way around growing your own. Here are some of their mouth-watering suggestions for easy-to-grow, container-friendly vegetables you can sow directly into your container’s soil:
BEANS: Bush beans are shrubby so they take up more space but they can be a better option if you’re using a container on a patio. Pole beans need a support to climb up but can produce just as much. Try:
- Mascotte: A dwarf bush bean perfect for small spaces
- Provider: A heirloom bush bean (shown at left) that’s a heavy and early yielder
- Kentucky Wonder: A heavy cropping, heirloom pole bean that climbs high, good for narrow spaces
BEETS: Easy to grow, beets can do well in containers or shallow beds. If you plant new seeds very two weeks, you can have a continual harvest all summer. Try Chioggia, with bright white and red circles like a bull’s eye, or Early Wonder, a heirloom variety that grows quickly with–bonus–delicious green leaves.
RADISHES: Easy to grow and do well in small spaces. Try Cherry Belle, smaller than the average radish, or Nero Tondo, (the cool black radish mentioned earlier) that’s a super healthy, mineral-rich choice.
Halifax Seed also recommends:
- Carrots: so easy to grow and do well in containers. Look for varieties that are fast growing and shorter (if you’ve got limited space).
- Peas: Again, easy to grow. Bush varieties of peas are a good choice for pots.
- Greens and lettuces: These plants take up just a small amount of space, can be planted in succession for a continual harvest and you can plant them really early and then again in the fall (they actually love colder weather). Look for bolt-hardy variants that do well in summer heat. I can attest to how easy it is to grow lettuce. My personal view on growing your own was forged by the wildly successful container-grown mesclun mixes I grew, and grew…..
And growing a little history while you’re at it
There’s actually one more thing about growing vegetables that can also be very satisfying even for beginners–finding seeds with fascinating heritages. Heritage Harvest Seed, based in Carman, Manitoba, is a seed supplier offering a wide assortment of heirloom seeds, many that are rare or extremely rare, and available only to Canadians.
Take their Deacon Dan beets, for example. With their eye-popping white and purple striations, they make a gorgeous addition to the dinner plate. And they’re a smart choice, too, considering their reputation as a best-keeping storage beet, staying sweet and not losing texture once harvested. I can’t help thinking that this kind of practical trait (long-lasting, good for storing) may have something to do with the fact that they used to be grown by the leader of a Pennsylvanian Mennonite community, Deacon Dan Burkholder, in the early 1800’s. It’s that kind of background and the fact that these seeds are now extremely rare and can be yours for only $3.95 a packet can give you a whole new taste for vegetable gardening, quite literally.