Vegetables & Fruits That Grow in Shallow Soil

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Tomatoes can thrive in shallow soil, pots and containers.

The taste and flavor of homegrown vegetables and fruits is beyond compare. Certain vegetables and fruits can be planted and harvested successfully in small garden spaces, pots or containers, where the soil is shallow. Twelve inches of depth will suffice for small plants to grow and provide a harvest.


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Tomatoes can be grown in soil as shallow as eight inches to one foot deep. Start with seeds planted indoors as early as mid March to April. Once signs of frost have left your area, you can transplant the seedlings to an outdoor location or to a container. Heavier varieties will probably require a cage or stakes as they mature. Smaller varieties may need little to no staking. Experiment with different varieties to see which will grow best in your region and soil. If you savor the flavor of tomatoes from days gone by, go for heirloom varieties. If your soil and garden conditions are prone to insects, birds or animals feeding on your tomatoes, look for "determinate" varieties that will grow compactly and can withstand shallow soil conditions.



Carrots of the Chantenay and Nantes varieties can be successfully grown in shallow garden soil. You can grow a Chantenay or Nantes in soil as shallow as six to eight inches. A Chantenay will grow to about six inches in length and can thrive and grow in even drought conditions. The Nantes is a blunt and wide carrot that harvests at a length of six to nine inches. Nantes are natives of France and known for their crisp texture and sweet flavor.



Lettuce has a shallow root system, making it a perfect choice to grow in shallow garden conditions or even in containers. The key is to plant lettuce in soil that is loose and well-drained. A spot that receives at least one half day of full sun will provide the best results. You can start lettuce from packaged seeds indoors and transplant in the early spring. They propagate best if they are exposed to the cold little by little. This goal can be achieved by placing indoor seedlings close to a windowsill, then moving them to colder areas like a garage before finally transplanting them into a garden spot outdoors.



Strawberries are among the easiest fruits of all to grow in shallow soil or in pots. The additional benefit is that strawberries can grow as a perennial and bear fruit for up to three years. Many gardeners actually prefer the fruit from the second year of growth because it tends to bear a sweeter flavor. Plant the strawberry seedlings in early spring to net a mid-summer harvest. Because strawberries grow in a trail, they can also be planted in hanging baskets or window boxes and grown indoors for color and fresh fruit enjoyment. Water regularly and fertilize with a mixture made especially for flowers or vegetables.



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