10 winter vegetables to grow in pots

After what seemed like eternity the air seems to be getting cooler now. Winters will set in soon and that means boom time for kitchen gardeners in the tropics. You can grow a huge variety of colorful and nutritious vegetables in your container garden from November to February when the temperature stays between 15° and 30° in most parts of India. Most of these vegetables are very easy to grow and do just fine with minimal care. Here is my top ten list of vegetables to grow in pots this winter.

Tomato

Tomato is a great vegetable to grow in winters in India
Tomato is a great vegetable to grow in winters in India

Tomato is probably the favorite vegetable of most gardeners. There are a lot of varieties of tomato that you can grow which include many exotic varieties. Cherry tomatoes is something you ought to have in your garden as they can be grown in even 7-8 liter pots. When you taste the tomatoes grown by you organically I bet you’ll never feel like buying them from the store. And the joy of growing this beautiful and juicy vegetable is priceless.

Beans

Beans are container gardening friendly
Beans are container gardening friendly

Beans is another vegetable to grow in pots in winter and that too very easily. It is not a heavy eater and hence you can grow beans even in small containers. Bush varieties of beans are suitable for container gardening. However if you can build a trellis, you can go for a climber variety and save on lateral space in your garden. Typically people grow french beans in winters. But my favorite leguminous vegetable to grow in pots in winters is flat beans beans because of its intense flavor.

Beans serves another important purpose in your garden. As they belong to leguminous family they also help to fix nitrogen in the soil.


Tip – Treating beans seeds with azospirillum bio fertilizer before sowing increases the amount of nitrogen fixed in the soil by a large amount.


Spinach

The true spinach is spinach from your garden
The true spinach is spinach from your garden

Spinach loses its nutrients quite fast after its plucked. In fact some varieties of spinach loose more than 90% of their nutrients within 24 hours. So eating store bought spinach which takes at least three days to reach your table from the farm is no good at all in terms of nutrients you get from them. Hence you ought to grow spinach in your garden and eat them as fresh as you can. Additionally it is one of the easiest things you can grow. Just sow the seeds and water. Growing spinach in containers is as simple as it can get. And they can be grown even in a shallow container. That is why spinach makes it to my top ten vegetables to grow in pots in Indian winters.

Radish

Radish is easy to grow winter vegetable
Radish is easy to grow winter vegetable

My mom loves radish when its cooked. But I love it raw. Nothing can beat fresh radish from your garden sprinkled with a little salt and chilli powder. Apart from taste the other reason that makes this root vegetable so good to grow is its short germination to harvest time. Depending on variety your radish can be ready to harvest between 30 to 50 days time. And if you were wondering how to grow these beauties here is a comprehensive guide on how to grow radish in containers.

Lettuce

Lettuce is the best salad green to grow in winters
Lettuce is the best salad green to grow in winters

To really understand why lettuce is such a loved salad green you need to pluck and eat it. The texture and taste of lettuce can really be enjoyed if you eat it directly from your garden. In most parts of India it is also not commonly eaten. Hence it is difficult to find even in super stores. And even if you get lucky I am sure you wont get it fresh. So go ahead and plant some lettuce in your garden this winter. Pick few different varieties and plant them around your house. Different colors and curly leaves also make lettuce very decorative by nature.

Bell Peppers

Grow bell peppers of different colors
Grow bell peppers of different colors

Bell pepper or capsicum is a very popular vegetable in India as it is used in Indian, Chinese, European and all other kinds of cooking. People also love it in salads. It is very versatile and you can grow them in containers as they are not heavy eaters and don’t need too much space to grow. With timely application of compost and organic fertilizers like Amrut Jal and Panchagavya you can get a bountiful of harvest from your capsicum plants.


Tip – Instead of the green capsicum which is commonly available you can go for the colored varieties like yellow, red and orange bell peppers as one of the vegetables to grow in pots in tropical winters.


Carrot

Carrots take time but are hassle free
Carrots take time but are hassle free

Carrots take a lot of time to grow. It can sometimes take even a hundred days from germination day to be ready to be picked. But still this still makes it to the list of vegetables to grow in pots in winters because this can be used as a companion plant to many of the other vegetables like tomatoes. And it also does not really require much space on its own. In just three square feet space you can harvest more than a kilo of carrots.

Cauliflower and Cabbage

Cauliflower is shallow rooted and hence grows in pots easily
Cauliflower is shallow rooted and hence grows in pots easily

When you are thinking of growing vegetable in pots rooting structure plays a very important role in selecting the vegetables. Shallow rooting vegetables are excellent for container gardening. Cauliflower and Cabbage are shallow rooting and early harvest vegetables. Moreover in one winter season you can have at least two crop cycles. So they are excellent to plant in your kitchen garden in winters. Here is a detailed guide on how to grow organic cauliflowers in containers for your reference.

Microgreens and Herbs

Coriander can be used both as a micro green and a herb
Coriander can be used both as a micro green and a herb

Microgreens are relatively new concept of food in India, but it is catching up really quick. They are basically immature green saplings of varieties of plants harvested within a month of germination. They are cut off at the base of the plant and are eaten mostly raw. They add a lot of intense flavor, texture and color to your dishes and are great in terms of nutrition. As these also need to be eaten fresh you have to grow them at home. Some of the seeds that you can use for growing your microgreens are lettuce, spinach, mustard, fenugreek, radish, beet root, kale, coriander etc. Winter is also the best time to plant herbs like coriander, mint and basil. The best part about microgreens and herbs is that they can even be grown in your windowsill provided you get 3-4 hours of sunlight there.

Ginger

Ginger is the lazy man's winter vegetable
Ginger is the lazy man’s winter vegetable

No one would really put ginger in the list of vegetables to grow in pots in winters in India. But this surely is one of the best things you can plant if you are short on time and can not look after your plants regularly. Ginger pods start showing sprouts in late winter and that is when you plant them. Once you plant them you can literally forget about them except for occasional watering when soil becomes dry. You need a container that is at lest one foot deep to plant ginger. But once planted they take care of themselves and need very little help from you. They are ready to be harvested in 6-8 months time and you’ll be surprised at the amount of ginger you get from your containers.


So that was my top ten vegetables to grow in pots in winters in India. I have already started seeds for most of these and looking forward to a bountiful harvest this season too. For those who are new to container gardening here some help. This beginner’s guide to growing vegetables in pots should be of help to you. I’ll be back with a new post soon. Till then keep well and happy gardening.

Guide to Growing Broad Beans in Containers

Mature Broad Beans Pods
Mature Broad Beans Pods

You either hate Broad beans (also known as fava beans or flat beans) or you love them. This is one bean that is difficult to ignore because of its intense flavor and hard texture. I love that intensity and the bite. We get a lot of indigenous varieties of flat beans here in eastern and southern parts of India. Most of them are climbers and need a trellis to grow. A few hybrid varieties are also available now which are of bush variety and hence can easily grow at any place. Being a leguminous plant it also fixes nitrogen in your soil and keeps it healthy. So even if you don’t love fava beans your garden loves it. This plant prefers cooler temperature and hence is a a great vegetable to grow in winters. In this post I’ll guide you on growing broad beans in containers in your kitchen garden.

Quick Reference Table for Growing Broad Beans in Containers

 

Item Value
Growing Temperature 15 – 25 °C
Germination Temperature 20-30 °C Ideal
Germination Time 3-7 days
Soil pH 6 to 6.8
Sunlight Need 8-10 hours per day (Sun loving Plant)
Preferred Planting Method Direct Sowing
Container size Grow 2-3 plants in a 10 liter containers. Keep 3-4 inch distance between two plants.
Time to Harvest 60-80 days from germination
Harvest Period  50-60 days
Pollination Self pollinating.
Typical Pests Aphids, leaf minor, ants
Best season to plant in India  

Start your seeds about a month before onset of winters. October to February are the best months to grow broad beans.

Seed Sowing and Germination of Broad Beans

Broad Bean Seeds
Broad Bean Seeds

Broad beans are medium feeders and shallow rooted. So they can easily be grown in a 10 liter container. You can grow 2-3 plants in a single 10 liter container. If you are using a bigger container and planting in rows then you need to keep about 6 inch distance between plants and around 10 inch distance between rows.  For sowing the seeds it is a good idea to soak the seeds in Amrut Jal for 24 hours. Plain water also works fine if you don’t have Amrut Jal. Soaking seeds helps in faster germination. Mark your spots where you’ll be sowing your seeds in the pot. Now make 3/4 inch to 1 inch holes in the soil using one of your fingers. Place the seeds (Use 2 seeds for every mark. Thin saplings later retaining the healthier one) on their side in the holes and them cover them loosely with the potting soil. Water the pot gently. Be careful not to disturb the soil. As the seeds germinate better in humid conditions its a good idea to keep the container covered. Check the moisture in the soil everyday. Don’t let the soil dry out any time, but at the same time don’t keep the soil wet every time. The seeds germinate better if the moisture level is slightly on the lower side than on the higher side. In about 3-5 days you should see happy seedlings looking out from the pots,

Germinated Broad Bean Seeds
Germinated Broad Bean Seeds

Sometimes seeds do not germinate or have a very low germination rate. When this happens you can try to germinate the seeds in a bottle. Wrap your pre-soaked seeds in a damp cotton cloth or damp kitchen towel. Place it inside a bottle, close the lid and place the bottle in a warm area. Check after 3-4 days if the seeds have germinated. If the seeds have germinated you can sow them in your pot. If most of them have not germinated you need to change your seeds.

Growing Broad Beans in Containers

Broad Bean Plant in Flowering Stage
Broad Bean Plant in Flowering Stage

Broad Bean is a climber and it grows at fast rate. So you need to build a trellis well in time for the plant. When the broad bean plant is about 6-10 inches tall it starts to climb. So keep your trellis ready by then. By the way if you are growing the bush variety then you don’t have to worry about the trellis.

Because broad bean grow in full sunlight the soil can dry out very fast. So mulch you pot heavily to avoid evaporation. Keep the soil moist all the time and never let it dry out. If at some point the plant gets water stressed then it may be difficult for it to recover.

Bush Variety Broad Bean Plant
Bush Variety Broad Bean Plant

Use Amrut Jal or any other organic liquid soil conditioner/fertilizer every 10-15 days. During flowering increase the frequency and use it once every 7 days. You can add extra compost for better fruiting at regular intervals. Adding extra compost to the container every 40-50 days keeps the plant happy. To do this remove the mulch and add about 1 liters of well decomposed compost per plant. Spread it evenly and mulch again.

Aphids are the major pests that you have to face while growing broad beans in containers. So check your plant regularly for aphid attack. Check leaves, stems, buds and flowers. In case you find them remove them with water jet. You can also use a neem spray or any broad organic pesticide like diluted cow urine to get rid of aphids. Spray your plant once a week if you see aphids. In case a plant has got infested with aphids its better to move the container to isolated area and spray it. If the aphids do not go even after spraying then get rid of the plant to protect rest of the plants in your garden.

Harvesting Broad Beans

Young Broad Beans Pods
Young Broad Beans Pods

Broad beans fruits grow slower than other beans. The flowers generally stay on the plant for 7-10 days before turning into pods. The pods also take around 15-20 days to grow and become ready for harvest. To know if they are ready for harvest or not press the pods gently and check for the seeds. If the seeds have formed properly the bean is ready to harvest. For seed saving leave the first few pods on the plants till the pod turns light brown to brown color. You can do seed saving only if the bean is a open pollinated variety.

Generally every plant flowers and fruits well two to three times after which the pods become smaller and most of them dry on the plant. So after you have got two or three batches of harvest, cut off the plant and use it for mulching.


I have made this post about growing broad beans in containers on request by one of our readers with a beautiful name of Chandrakala. I hope it will be helpful for her and also for all of you. And if you want us to write on some topic, then do write to us at [email protected] and we’ll do the needful asap.

Easy and Nutritious Long Beans Recipe

As promised in the last post here I am with an Easy and Nutritious Long Beans Recipe. Its a very easy to do raw vegetable salad and you can eat it as a side dish or just by itself as a snack. Vegetables loose their nutrition with time and because of cooking. To get maximum nutrition from vegetables you should have it fresh and raw. But vegetables bought from store are typically a few days old and are grown using inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. So not only its low in nutritional value, it is also not advisable to eat them raw. It is indeed harmful for you. Hence if you want to make this Easy and Nutritious Long bean recipe then I highly recommend you to grow your own long beans in your own Organic Terrace Garden. Growing Long beans in Containers is super easy and time to harvest is also very low (40-45 days). Hence there is no excuse why you should not be growing them by yourself. And the most important factor why you should use organically grown long beans from your garden for this recipe is that they taste much better and sweeter and have a great texture.

Long Beans Salad Recipe

Back to the recipe now. This is a Canadian inspired recipe and uses sweet nectar of Canada, the maple syrup. However if you don’t have pure maple syrup you can substitute it with honey. This Easy and Nutritious Long Beans Recipe serves two as a snack. As a side dish it can serve three to four persons.You’ll take only 10 minutes to make this and this is what you need for the lip smacking salad.

Ingredients

long bean salad ingredients
Canadian inspired long bean salad ingredients
  1. Fresh Yard Long Beans from your Organic Terrace Garden – 250 gms
  2. Sesame seeds – 1 tablespoon
  3. Olive Oil – 2 tablespoon
  4. Kozlik’s Canadian Mustard (spicy) – 1 tablespoon
  5. Pure Dark Maple syrup – 1 tablespoon
  6. Lime or Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
  7. Black pepper (coarsely crushed) – 1 teaspoon
  8. Salt – to taste

Method

  1. Wash long beans thoroughly and cut off the ends. Cut into 1 inch size pieces and pat dry.
  2. Roast sesame seeds on a pan for 2-3 minutes till they become slightly brown and leave them to cool.
  3. In a bowl whisk together Olive Oil, Mustard, Maple syrup, Lime juice and Black pepper till you have a good emulsion.
  4. In a salad bowl mix together the Beans, Sesame seeds and the Dressing.
  5. Add salt to taste and mix till the beans are coated well with the dressing.

And there you have it. This easy and Nutritious Long beans recipe is ready.

long beans salad
Canadian inspired long beans salad

The best part of this recipe is that you really don’t have to stick to the measurements religiously. You can alter the quantities according to your liking. And if you don’t have Kozlik’s mustard you can always substitute it with any mustard sauce which has heat. The hero of this recipe is organically grown fresh yard long beans and you can enjoy these at any time of the day in just ten minutes.

Bon Appetit

Growing Long Beans in Containers

Yardlong  beans, asparagus beans, Chinese long beans are different names for what is commonly known as long beans. This is a tropical and subtropical climate vegetable which is a favorite vegetable in Asian countries. The bean pods generally grow around 12-20 inches and are tender, crisp with a beautiful texture. You can eat it stir fried,  pan fried, steamed and in curries. You can even eat it raw. But in raw form it tastes best when you grow it in your own Organic Terrace Garden. One of the very interesting aspect of this plant is that it grows quickly and fruits vigorously. You need to harvest on a daily basis as they fruit on a daily basis. The best part is that Growing Long Beans in Containers is super easy. It needs very basic care and is quite hardy in nature. In this post I am not only going to guide you on how to grow long beans in containers and pots, I am also going to give you some tips, which will make Growing Long Beans in Containers a fun activity for the entire family.

By the way in case you are new to Organic Terrace Gardening I recommend you to read about the things you should consider before starting your Organic Terrace Garden and a Beginner’s Guide to growing vegetables in containers.

Quick Reference Table for Growing Long Beans in Containers

 

Item Value
Growing Temperature 25-35 °C
Germination Temperature 30 °C Ideal
 Germination Time  3-7 days
 Soil pH  6.0 to 7.0
 Sunlight Need  6-10 hours per day
 Planting Method  Direct Sowing
 Container size  upto 2 plants in 10 liter container
 Time to Harvest  40-45 days from germination day
 Harvest Period  30 days typically
 Pollination  Self Pollinating
 Typical Pests  Aphids, Ants
 Best season to plant in India  Monsoons

Before Sowing Long Bean Seeds in Pots

Trellis structure for long bean
A Simple Trellis structure for long beans. Long bean plants automatically start climbing on the strings provided.

Yardlong beans are climber plants. Within 10-12 days of developing true leaves they start to develop vines which starts climbing on any support that they get. This support is generally strings hanging loosely from top of the trellis. These plants grow very fast. Hence you must be prepare the trellis structure for the plant to climb as soon as you sow the seeds. It would be better to make the trellis even before sowing long bean seeds in pots because sometimes it is not possible to put up a structure at some places and if you cant move your container your plants get stuck in a place where they cant climb. And that is a disaster. Hence make sure you have a structure ready for climbers when you are Growing Long Beans in Containers.

Choosing Container for Long Beans

You don’t really need very big containers to grow long beans in your Organic Terrace Garden. You can use a 10 liter container to grow 2 plants. Just make sure that the depth of the container is 8-12 inches. Anything smaller than that would not give a good harvest and anything bigger than that would not boost your harvest significantly. The container can be anything from a un-glazed earthen pot to a plastic tub. Anything works as long as you take care of the minimum depth requirements of the container. Depending on the surface area of the container you can plant multiple long bean plans. If you are planing in a box type container, keep the distance between two plants 1 ft and between two rows the distance should be kept at 1.5 to 2 ft. If your containers is more of a bucket or a pot then plants can be planted closer; but not more than 2-3 per container.

Seed Sowing and Germination

Step by step guide to sow long bean seeds
Step by step guide to sow long bean seeds in containers

We treat Chinese Long Bean seeds with Amrut Jal before sowing. We simply soak the seed in Amrut Jal for 24 hours before sowing. This helps in faster germination. Amrut Jal also helps in protecting the seed from fungal attack. However this step is not a must. You can alternatively soak your seeds in lukewarm water for 20-30 minutes before sowing. Even this step can be bypassed if you wish to.

It is always a good idea to fill up your pot in the day time with potting mix to warm the soil and sow the seeds in the evening in the warm soil. To sow the seeds make small holes of 1/2 to 3/4 inch depth with your finger or any blunt object like back of a pencil. Place one to two seeds in the hole and cover it with potting mix and compress the soil gently. Water thoroughly and you are done. Growing Long Beans in Containers is really simple, but you have to be a little careful during the germination period. Make sure that the soil is always moist and never becomes dry. If the sun is too harsh during day time cover the pot to protect the soil from drying during noon, but make sure that air is circulating well. Also don’t over water. It may cause the seed to rot. If it is raining continuously and heavily during this time cover your pots. If you just take care of these things, your seeds should germinate in 3-7 days time.

Growing Your Long Bean Plants in Containers

When your seeds have germinated all you have to do is water them regularly to keep the soil moist all the time. When the plant grows to around 5-6 inches of height mulch your pot with organic material. This will retain moisture and prevent weeds from growing.

When the plants have grown to around 5-6 inches, they are vulnerable to heavy winds. So you need to stake them til they develop their vines and start climbing. Use any small stick of about 10-12 inches of length for staking. Just lightly tie the plant to the stake near the tip with a soft string. We use jute string for skating as it is soft, natural and cheap.

When the plant develops vines it will automatically start climbing around the strings in your trellis. You may also train the plants manually to the nearest string. Make sure that there are not more than two vines on a single string. If there are any flower pods when the plant is not even 2 ft tall just remove them. Let the plant focus on growing first. When the side vines have two to three sets of leaves pinch the tip. Pinch the tip of main vine when the vine has climbed more than 6 ft. Pinching the tips is not a absolute requirement. But when you are Growing Long Beans in Containers, pinching tips at the right time will help in growing a bushier plant and give you more produce. However you don’t have to religiously do it. Just do how much ever you can.

Fertilization and Pest Care

long beans germination, flowers and pods
Long beans plant life cycle from germination to flowering and fruiting.

Asparagus beans and not too heavy feeders and will grow well from the nutrients in your potting mix. But to keep a good supply of nutrients and micro-nutrients in the soil and to keep the soil alive by providing enough microbial activity water you plants with a cow dung based solution like Amrut Jal or Jiwamrit every 5-7 days during growing period. When the plants begin to flower supplement your soil with good quality compost and additionally you can increase frequency of Amrut Jal watering. To apply compost remove your mulch layer. Loosen the top 1 cm of soil and add good quality compost. Add about half a liter of compost per plant. Put the mulch layer back again. When you loosen the soil you’ll notice that there are feeder roots even in the top one cm of the soil. Hence do not dig any deeper than 1 cm as you’ll be disturbing more roots if you do so.

Use Amrut Jal, Jiwamrit or Panchagavya as a foliar spray every 10-15 days before fruiting and every 7 days during fruiting. This keeps the foliage healthy and fruits become better due to direct absorption of nutrients.

Whether you are Growing Long Beans in Containers or on the ground, no matter what you do aphids will attack your plants. Ants will also attack your pods and flowers and will help the aphids to spread. Check each morning for signs of aphids or any other pests every morning. If the infestation is not too much then wait out for a day or two to see if ladybugs have arrived in your garden for feasting on the aphids. In case you don’t want to wait you can always wash the aphids off with a spray of water. If the infestation is towards the higher side then use neem spray once every 7 days and you’ll be okay. Just make sure that you spray it very early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Otherwise it may cause leaf burns. Drop some turmeric powder on young pod, flowers and vines to control ants.

Harvesting Long Beans

Long beans need to be harvested at the right time to get best taste and texture. Leaving them a little longer in the plant makes it loose it moisture and texture. Generally it takes about 9-10 days for the fruit to be ready after flowering. Your plant will flower and bear pods daily. So harvest your yardlong beans also regularly. Just pull them using your thumb and index finger gently and they will separate from the plant.

Plant your beans every 15-20 days throughout the season to get uninterrupted supply of healthy and fresh long beans. We also plant them with other vegetables like pumpkin, eggplants and tomatoes, so that while we enjoy the great taste of long beans they are busy helping other plants. Long beans belong to legume family of vegetables and they fix nitrogen deficiency in the soil. This helps other plants which feed on nitrogen from the soil.

Fun tips

At the start of this post I told you that Growing Long Beans in Containers is super easy and you are most likely to agree with me on that now. But here are some fun do’s that would make Growing Long Beans in Pots even more interesting for the entire family. One of the tings that you can do it to use the long bean plants as a decorative plant. Just design your trellis in a way that the support climbing strings for the beans make a great visual design. Keep the color of the string red of orange and when the green long beans plants start climbing on them, they do make a very pretty picture.

Another fun activity that you can do with the kids is to find the longest bean. Get your kids to do the harvesting while you are doing other important things like watering the plants. Kids will learn to differentiate between mature and immature pods when the harvest regularly. Then check who has got the longest bean pod. Declare her the winner for the day. You’ll notice how kids start to take more interest in garden with such activities.

I am sure with the information you have got from this post you’ll be successful every time you are Growing Long Beans in Containers. And I am also sure if you have never grown or eaten long beans you’ll now be roaring to go and plant your first long bean seed. As a further motivation I’ll be posting a simple yet delicious recipe with long beans in my next post. Stay tuned and stay blessed.