In this article, we will be discussing what varieties of baby vegetables to grow in your container garden. The obvious question is why would you want to grow baby vegetables, as they are smaller in size? They may be smaller in size but offer much more in the way of flavour and in this article, this question will be answered.
WHAT ARE BABY VEGETABLES?
We are talking about cauliflowers no bigger than a tennis ball, small beetroots, bite-sized tomatoes, cucumbers that fit in the palms of your hands, turnips no bigger than a golf ball, carrots the size of large marbles etc. These have been specially bred to be able to grow small. You have heard of people that want to grow giant veg, pumpkin that weighs more than 8 adults combined, but this is at the opposite end of the scale.
There is another type of baby vegetables and these are standard varieties that are grown closer together and are harvested well before they have reached maturity. This means that you can have your favourite vegetable on your dinner plate much more quickly and by using a smaller growing area.
All the vegetable varieties used tend to be early maturing varieties, such as ‘Amsterdam Forcing’ for carrots and ‘Snowball’ for turnips. You can even place the leek variety ‘Jolent’ close together and grow them as a substitute to spring onions. All this in a period of 12 weeks.
THERE ARE TWO TYPES
They are therefore two types of baby vegetables; specifically bred to not grow to large sizes and standard varieties grow at much closer spacings.
Both types tend to grow quite close so that they will grow and not suffocate each other. You will need the plants to develop quickly and flourish, not competing for the available nutrients.
The usual spacing between rows is normally 15cm, but you can pack the plants in. The recommended spacing between plants in rows is 3cm for root veg (carrots, turnips, and beetroot), 15cm for leafy vegetables such as cabbage and lettuce, and 30cm for sweet corn.
The main reason why to grow baby vegetable is the much better and intensive flavour that you will experience. It is also good to use when space is restricted, or you are impatient and you want your vegetables much sooner. You can have all this in a relatively small area and this is why container growers want to know what varieties to grow so that they will be happy on the area where they are planted in.
You can grow these varieties in pots, tubs, window boxes, and raised beds, as this is practical for some gardeners, especially for those who do not have a garden to grow in.
In order to be successful. You must follow the golden rule; grow them quickly and feed them regularly.
This means the compost that you use must be nutrient-rich and will require regular feeding and watering throughout dry weather.
You may find them described and illustrated in catalogues separately, but this is not usual as you will often find them listed amongst normal-sized varieties of vegetables.
WHAT VARIETIES OF BABY VEGETABLE TO GROW?
In a previous article, I have discussed how to grow the different types of vegetables in containers including tomatoes and so I will not be repeating them here. Instead, I will go into specific varieties of vegetables that can be grown and harvested whilst young or small.
The varieties here have been selected to grow as baby vegetables that can be grown at close spacings and harvested whilst young.
‘Patio Baby’-This produces a 50cm tall, compact plant. It is a very early ripening variety that produces 8cm, long, baby-sized spineless, purple fruits, all summer long.
‘Ophelia’– This is an attractive aubergine that produces 50-60g sized, dark purple fruits. It grows up to 90cm in height, so not as compact as the other variety, but still small than standard varieties.
‘Solo’ – This is a monogerm globe variety that produces one strong seedling per seed cluster so that no thinning is required. It produces round, uniform, smooth roots that are deep purple in colour. It is resistant to bolting and has an excellent taste.
‘Detroit 2’- This is a reliable all-rounder. It is a heavy cropper, producing uniform beats that can be harvested young. It has excellent texture, excellent for pickling and bottling.
There are two varieties of cabbage that can be grown.
‘Primero’ is a compact, dense, red cabbage with a sweet taste. It tends to have leaves that are closely packed together.
Savoy cabbage ‘Protovoy’ is a cultivated cabbage plant that produces a small, compact head of edible leaves about the size of a tennis ball. It is produced on thick, short stems where the heads appear in late summer to autumn.
This includes sweet peppers and chillis.
‘Minibell’- This is a plant that produces heavy crops of mini green peppers of only 5cm in diameter that matures to a dark yellow colour. It is compact in habit and will produce fruits all summer long. This 60cm tall variety is a baby vegetable delight.
Another variety is ‘Mohawk’ that produces, long, yellow fruits.
Chilli ‘Spicy Jones’ – This plant is quick in showing its fruit and the fruit changes colour swiftly as well. The more you pick the more fruit it produces. It grows up to 23cm tall before it will cascade all over the place, where a final height of 30cm is reached. On the Scoville scale, it has 30,000 HTU.
Chilli ‘Basket of Fire’ – This plant produces masses of little, long-pointed, red fruits, on a leafy, semi-trailing plant. The fruit start of deep purple turning cream and orange, before finally turning red. It is 80,000 HTU on the Scoville scale, where it will grow up to 30cm in height.
Chilli ‘Hot Fajita’’- This is a small, compact plant that produces bumper crops of thin, long, red fruits that start off light green. The fruit is waxy skinned and the plant has an erect, growing habit. On the Scoville scale, it has a heat unit of 70,000.
Pepper ‘Snackbelle’– This produces a 60cm tall, bushy plant that needs little support. Small 6cm diameter fruits are produced en masse on plants that ripen from green to red.
In containers many of the short root varieties are suitable. They produce either golf ball-shaped round carrots or finger long carrots. They tend to be the first to be sown, but they have the best flavour. You can successionally sow every 2 weeks between early spring and July.
‘Amsterdam Forcing’ that produces a sweet carrot with a blunt end. It is excellent for freezing because it has little core.
‘Early Nantes’ – This is longer than Amsterdam forcing and more tapered, but apart from that, it is quite similar in any other way.
‘Caracas’– This is the recommended variety to grow in containers. It is a short carrot, broad at the top and pointed at the bottom.
‘Early Scarlet Horn’– This is a Nantes-type carrot with good flavour, suitable for early sowing in March under cloches.
‘Paris Market’– This round carrot only grows up to 1cm across but has a sweet flavour. Matures very quickly.
‘Parmex’- This is similar to Paris Market but may get slightly larger, up to 5cm in diameter.
‘Igloo’- This is the one to choose for baby caulis. Plant them in a large container- 2 per container, where the mature crop can be harvested in midsummer.
‘Astia’- This 50cm tall plant produces prolific crops of shiny, green fruits that are straight and uniform. The skins are thick, the flesh is crisp and the flavour is excellent. It had good tolerance to powdery mildew.
‘Patriots’– This is easy to grow, as it will produce a prolific harvest all summer long. It produces long green, speckled fruits, where it will produce no matter if the summer is hot or cool.
‘Black Beauty’ – This produces a large crop of attractive glossy, dark green fruits over a long period of time.
Marrow ‘Bush Baby’ – This is a baby marrow variety that produces small, green and silver striped marrows, only growing to ¾ of the standard size of the marrow. The young marrow can be picked as a small stage and used as a courgette.
‘Patio Star’- This courgette has a neat and compact habit, growing up to 45cm in height, where straight, all green, fruits are produced.
‘Patio Snacker’- This variety can be grown in large containers, where it will produce high yields and will continuously crop hand-sized, tasty, crunchy, bitter free cucumber. Much smaller than most cucumber plants.
DWARF FRENCH BEANS
‘Safari’- This is a low growing variety that produces a mass of green beans. It produces slender pencil pods that are stingless and has good disease resistance.
‘King Richard’- This is an early cropping variety that can be lifted by Christmas. It produces long, slender leeks, full of flavour and ideal for slicing. Can be planted very closely to produce mini-leeks. Not fully hardy, so will need harvesting before Christmas.
‘Jolant’– This is another early cropping variety that has a mild taste. It grows vigorously and the stem tends to be densely packed. Can be harvested from August onwards. Another leek that can be harvested as baby leeks.
‘Tom Thumb’– This is a butterhead type lettuce. They tend to be quick maturing and will tolerate poorer growing conditions than the other types. They tend to be for summer growing. This particular variety of lettuce produces, small, soft, smoothed edge leaves and the plant itself will not get large than a tennis ball.
‘Arrow’– This is a slender variety that is ideal for growing at high density. The root tends to a bayonet shape, virtually coreless and have a tender and sweet flavour.
‘Lancer’- This parsnip produces long, slender, smooth, canker free roots that can grow up to 30cm in height. It is a sweet parsnip that is uniform in shape.
‘Tumbling Bella’- This is a compact and cascading tomato plant that produces masses of cherry-sized fruits from July to October. It is ideal to snack on and grows well in hanging baskets.
‘Losetto’- This is a cascading, blight resistant, bushy tomato plant that produces masses of cherry-tomatoes, only growing up to a height of 30cm.
‘Balconi Red’- This is a hanging basket tomato plant that has a trailing habit, where they can be planted in a 30cm diameter hanging basket. It produces a mass of cherry tomatoes that are sweet to the taste. A good feature in the patio and balcony.
‘Romello’- This is a cherry plum tomato that is blight resistance, it produces long clusters of red fruits that do not readily crack. The plant only grows up to 30cm in height, where most of the fruits are produced on the outside, making it easy to harvest.
‘Divinity’- A bushy determinant variety that offers good resistance to blight. It will produce large, red cherry tomatoes and will remain dense and bulky without the need for any side-shoots to develop.
‘Balconi Yellow’– This is the yellow variety of balcony red and has a similar appearance and taste.
‘Cherrie Kisses’– A 30cm tall, compact variety that continuously supplies sweet cherry tomatoes. Small enough to be grown on a sunny windowsill.
‘Tumbler’- This is a trailing cherry variety that goes well in a hanging basket, which produces masses of bright red tomatoes.
‘Tumbling Tom Red’– This is the pioneer of all trailing tomatoes, where masses of red cherry tomatoes are produced on the outside of the plant. Ideal to be grown in window boxes, container or hanging baskets. The yellow variety is called ‘Tumbling Tom Yellow’ that is exactly the same but the fruit is yellow in colour.
‘Tiny Tim’- This plant has a compact, bushy habit that produces very small cherry red tomatoes, a heavy cropper that will keep you happily in fruit from the summer months. Plants tend to grow up to 30cm in height.
‘Cherry Falls’- This is a very vigorous tomato plant that can be grown in a large hanging basket or container. It produces a prolific crop of tomatoes over a long period of time.
‘Red Alert’-This is an early fruiting tomato that will require no support. It produces large cherry-red fruits that are sweet tasting and they are ready to pick just 3 months after sowing.
‘Tiny Pal’– This is a quick-growing variety of turnip, which should be pulled up when it reaches a golf ball size. It has a long growing season and can be sown as late as August and get a Christmas crop.
‘Tokyo Cross’- An early variety that can also be sown in late summer. Sowings between May and August produces small white roots that are ready for harvesting in 6 weeks.
In this article, we have discussed the growing of baby vegetables and in particular the varieties to grow. There are two ways you can grow baby vegetables by either using varieties that have been bred to be generically small or by using standard varieties at much closer spacings. You can have smaller vegetables in containers, as long as you get the variety right and the growing condition near perfect as possible.
They may not fill your belly up but they can be sown and harvested more frequently, allowing you to eat more regularly, especially if you successional sow.
So if you lack space and still want to grow vegetables then these varieties are for you. Just think, professional chefs, pay a fortune for baby veg, when you can get it from your garden at limited cost.
If you have any questions or comments that you wish to make, please do so in the comment box below.
Happy veg growing.