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Dwarf and Miniature Vegetables for Containers

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Miniature, midget, and dwarf vegetables are good selections for container growing. True dwarf varieties at full maturity have edible parts that are smaller in size than ordinary vegetable varieties and cultivars. Miniatures, midgets, and dwarfs differ from vegetables that are sold as “baby” vegetables–those are generally full-sized cultivars picked before maturity. Baby corn, for example, is most often ordinary corn harvested early just as the silk emerges from the husks.

Dwarf and miniatures require little above soil growing space and are well suited for containers. But because the plants and fruits are smaller, these crops can not be expected to perform the kitchen duties or full-sized varieties. Consider dwarfs and midgets for side dishes or stir-fries.

As for growing miniature vegetables, apart from spacing and often early harvest, normal growing practices apply. Miniature vegetables have the same soil, water, nutrient, and light requirements as ordinary varieties.

MINIATURE VEGETABLE VARIETYDays to harvestDESCRIPTION
 BEANS Three to nine inches apart
 Dwarf Bees 80 18- to 24-inch runner
 Thorogreen 68 18-inch tall Lima
 BEETS Two to 3 inches apart
 Burpee’s Gold Beet 55 1-inch diameter
 Galdiator 54 Golf-ball size
 Spinel 52 1½-inch round
 Chioggia 55 Italian heirloom
 CABBAGE 5 gallon container, 10″ apart
 Baby Head 72 2½-inch heads
 Modern Dwarf 65 4-inch heads
 CANTALOUPE 5 gallon container per plant
 Early Sugar Midget 60 Medium vine
 Midget Muskmelon 60 3-foot vines
 Minnesota Midget 63 4-inch melons
 Short ‘n Sweet 62 Bushy
 CARROTS One to 2 inches apart
 Bunny Bite 65 1½ inch root
 Little Finger 65 Cylindrical
 Short ‘n Sweet 68 4-inch roots taper
 Thumbelina 60 Bite-size
 Tiny Sweet 65 3-inch roots
 CORN 5 gallon container, 3 plants per
 Baby Asian 65 4-5 inches ears
 Faribo Golden Midget 60 30-inch plants
 Golden Midget 60 2- to 3-foot stalks
 Golden Miniature 54 5-inch ears
 CUCUMBER 5 gallon container, 15″ apart
 Baby Cucumber 52 Bushy vine, early
 Bush Whopper 55 No runners
 Little Minnie 52 Bushes to 2 feet
 Midget 50 2-foot vines, early
 Patio Pik 55 Slicer for baskets
 Pot Luck 56 18- to 24-inch plant
 EGGPLANT 5 gallon container, 15″ apart
 Early Black Egg 65 5-inch fruit, tender
 Easter Egg 65 2-3 inches long
 Little Fingers 68 6- to 8-inch long fruit
 Morden Midget 65 Bush, earliest fruit
 Nagaoka New Kissin 65 4-inch fruit, early
 Ornamental White 60 Early, 2-inch fruits
 Purple Pickling 70 Tiny eggplants
 Slim Jim 65 Pickling, very small
 LETTUCE Four to 10 inches apart
 Midget 55 Buttercrunch
 Sweet Midget Cos 60 5 inches tall, upright
 Tom Thumb 65 Tennis-ball size, Buttercrunch
 ONIONS Two to three inches apart
 Barletta 70 Small, round pickling
 Quicksilver 70 Small pearl
 Silver Queen 70 Small pearl
 PEAS Two inches apart
 American Wonder 61 12-inch plants, early
 Greater Progress 62 18-inch vine
 POTATOES Six to 8 inches apart
 Ladyfinger 80 4- to 5-inches long
 PUMPKINS 5 gallon container per plant
 Jack-Be-Little 90 3 inches across
 Mini-Jack 90 3- to 4-inch fruit
 Wee-B-Little 85 2- to 4-inch fruit
 SQUASH-SUMMER Twelve to 20 inches apart
 Benning’s Green Tint 50 Scallop squash
 Cousa 50 Lebanese, 4 inches long
 SQUASH-WINTER Twelve to 20 inches apart
 Jersey Golden Acorn 50 Pick golf-ball sized, compact growth
 TOMATOES 5 gallon container per plant
 Droplet 65 Determinate, abundant
 Early Salad 45 6- to 8-inches
 Patio 70 15- to 30-inches, early
 Pixie 50 24-inch vine
 Presto 60 Long season, early
 Pretty Patio 70 30 inches tall, abundant
 Red Cushion 65 18 inches high, cherry
 Salad Top 50 18 inches high
 Small Fry 60 Heavy cropper, early
 Stoke’s Alaska 55 18-inch bush, early
 Tiny Tim 50 15-inch vine, early
 Toy Boy 60 2 feet tall, early
 Tumblin’ Tom 55 20- to 24-inch vine
 WATERMELON 5 gallon container, 12″ apart
 Burpee Sugar Bush 80 6-8 pounds
 Family Fun 88 Slightly oblong
 Golden Midget 65 8 inches round
 Lollipop 70 3-5 pounds
 Market Midget 69 3-5 pounds, sweet
 New Hampshire Midget 68 7 inches in diameter, short season
 Petite Sweet 65 8 pounds, extra sugar
 Sugar Baby 80 8 inches in diameter, sweet
 Sugar Ball 65 12-15 pounds, multi-fruit
 Sugar Doll 72 8-10 pounds, sweet
 Sugar Lumps 78 8-9 inches in diameter
 Yellow Doll 68 3-5 pounds
 You Sweet Thing 70 12-13 pounds, round, striped

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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  1. I grow several varieties of bush beans, dwarf peas, and dwarf / micro tomatoes – none are mentioned here. Are these listed here very specific to an area? Some of mine are rather rare, but others are the most prominent on seed sites in North America.

    • Please share the varieties you grow. Our list is just a fraction of what is out there. We try to list varieties that we have grown.

    • One watermelon plant per 5-gallon container; a larger container — 7 or 10 gallons –would be better. The plant will draw all of its nutrients and moisture from the soil in the container–the more soil the better,

  2. Dear Sirs,
    My name is Pete Pond and I’m with Aeroponics Global Initiatives and we manufacture aeroponic growing equipment for the home grower all the way to large commercial greenhouse growers. In our home system we can put 30, 60, and up to 90 plant sites into a 24″ diameter space with its own centrally located water and nutrient system. In our commercial system we can put 30, 60, 90, and up to 120 plant sites again in a 24″ diameter space with it’s own centrally located water and nutrient system. The only difference between the home system and the commercial system, besides the number of plant sites, is that in the commercial system we connect the towers together. Each group of towers is called a section and has it’s own centrally located water and nutrient system. Say you want to harvest 900 heads of lettuce every week you would need 10 towers with 90 plant sites in each tower. Now if your growth cycle is 6 weeks you would need 6 sections. This way you can harvest and replant a section every week. Our system is perfect for mini-veggies,

    • Many dwarf veggie varieties are available from seed growers–check online searching for the variety you want to grow. Some garden centers may carry dwarf varieties, but you may have to search a bit.

  3. I appreciate the information you provide here. I have a type of miniature insulated greenhouse that allows people to grow vegetables during off-growing season. It works beautifully growing organic produce and is a product that I am trying to get produced and marketed. These miniature varities of otherwise large varieties are what are needed for these units.

    Alan Millard

  4. Steve, thanks for this post since I’ve been researching more about mini-veggies lately. However, I have a quick question for you. I just finished reading “Growing Midget Vegetables at Home” by Grant and Gilmore and I’m waiting on “Gardening with the New Small Plants” by Allen; however, both of these books are a bit old. So, do you know of any more recent books that have been published on growing mini/midget/dwarf veggies? Thanks …

    • I would suggest checking books on container vegetable gardening; many list dwarf and miniature vegetable varieties. “Bountiful Container” by Rose McGee and Maggie Stuckey is good reading.

How To Grow Tips

How To Grow Tomatoes

How To Grow Peppers

How To Grow Broccoli

How To Grow Carrots

How To Grow Beans

How To Grow Corn

How To Grow Peas

How To Grow Lettuce

How To Grow Cucumbers

How To Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash

How To Grow Onions

How To Grow Potatoes

Container barrel1

Vegetable Varieties for Container Growing

Seed Starting Basics1

Seed Starting Basics