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Container crops to sow in March

Get advice on which crops you can sow in containers in March, and find out how to grow them.

Overview

All kinds of vegetables can be grown in containers, including chilliestomatoesSwiss chard and even potatoes. Even if you have a dedicated veg patch, it’s still worth growing some extras in pots too – maybe herbs and salads near the house for easy picking.

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Bear in mind that crops in pots need feeding and watering more regularly than those grown in the ground – consider setting up a watering system if you’re going on holiday. Look out for pests, such as slugs and snails.

Here are nine crops to sow in containers in March.

Chillies are very productive in pots and can be grown on a sunny windowsill, or in a greenhouse.

Broad beans

Broad beans are a productive, easy-to-grow crop. Grow either for the tender leafy shoot tips (great in salads), or plant dwarf varieties for the beans. Very young pods can be eaten whole.

How to sow: for shoots, sow seeds close together in seed trays filled with multipurpose compost, 2cm deep. Grow on a sunny windowsill or in a greenhouse. For pods, sow directly into a pot that’s 30cm deep. Evenly space the seeds, 10cm apart.

Container size: for shoots, containers or trays at least 10cm deep – try wooden crates. For pods, at least 30 x 30cm wide and deep

Recommended varieties: ‘The Sutton’, ‘Crimson Flowered’, ‘Statissa’

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Chard

Chard makes a very attractive container plant. Pick regularly for baby leaves or allow to grow for larger leaves that can be steamed like spinach.

How to sow: sow three seeds into individual seed modules filled with seed compost. Cover with 2cm of compost, water well, label and place on a sunny windowsill or in a greenhouse. Discard the weakest seedlings.

Container size: three plants in a 35 x 35cm pot

Recommended varieties: ‘Bright Lights’, White Silver 2′, ‘Lucullus’

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Chillies

Chillies are very productive in pots and can be grown on a sunny windowsill, or in a greenhouse. Choose compact, small-fruited varieties and early ripeners for a more reliable harvest in cooler weather.

How to sow: fill 9cm pots with seed-sowing compost, water well, then place four seeds on the surface of the compost. Sprinkle a light covering of compost over the top and label. Cover with a propagator lid or clear plastic bag held in place with an elastic band to create a mini greenhouse. Place on a sunny windowsill. Remove the plastic bag as soon as seedlings appear.

Container size: 22cm diameter for compact varieties; taller varieties need larger pots

Recommended varieties: ‘Hungarian Hot Wax’, ‘Rouge de la Bresse’, ‘Cayenetta’

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Chives

Chives are great for container growing as they don’t take up much space. Pick regularly to encourage new leaves. The flowers also attract pollinators.

How to sow: sow a pinch of seeds into individual seed modules filled with seed compost. Cover with 1cm of compost, water well, label and place on a sunny windowsill or in a greenhouse. Discard the weakest seedlings.

Container size: at least 13cm diameter

Recommended varieties: Chives (Allium schoenoprasum), ‘Cha Cha’ chives, garlic chives (A. tuberosum)

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Kale

Kale is perfect for a semi-shaded spot. Grow in pots for cut-and-come again crops of young leaves to use in salads, or lightly steamed as a veg. As kale crops over a long period, a deep pot is best.

How to sow: sow three seeds into individual seed modules filled with seed compost. Cover with 2cm of compost, water well, label and place on a sunny windowsill or in a greenhouse. Discard the weakest seedlings.

Container size: at least 30cm deep

Recommended varieties: ‘Cavolo Nero’, ‘Red Russian’, ‘Dwarf Green Curled’

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Peas

Grow peas on a windowsill for tender pea shoots that are ready to pick within four weeks of sowing, or grow dwarf varieties for pods. Choose hardy, early varieties for sowing in March.

How to sow: for shoots, sow seeds close together in seed trays filled with multipurpose compost, 2cm deep. Grow on a sunny windowsill or in a greenhouse. For pods, sow directly into a pot that’s 30cm deep. Evenly space the seeds, 5cm apart.

Container size: for pea shoots, sow in seed trays at least 5cm deep; for pods, grow in pots 30cm wide

Recommended varieties: ‘Feltham First’ and ‘Kelvedon Wonder’ for shoots; ‘Tom Thumb’ for pods

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Potatoes

Potatoes are easy to harvest when grown in pots – no digging is needed. Grow smaller salad varieties rather than maincrops, which need more space.

How to grow: start chitting potatoes at the start of March by placing the tubers in old egg boxes or seed trays on a cool, light windowsill to encourage shoots to form. Once the weather is warmer, plant the sprouting tubers in to a large pot or sack on top of 10cm of compost, then cover with an additional 10cm layer of compost.

Container size: at least 40 x 40cm, or a specialist potato bag. Alternatively, use an old compost bag

Recommended varieties: ‘Charlotte’, ‘Nicola’, ‘Anya’

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Sweet peppers

Tender sweet peppers need warmth and sunlight. Grow plants in containers in a sheltered, sunny spot outside, or in a greenhouse. Choose compact, early fruiting varieties.

How to sow: fill 9cm pots with seed-sowing compost, water well, then place four seeds on the surface of the compost. Sprinkle a light covering of compost over the top and label. Cover with a propagator lid or clear plastic bag held in place with an elastic band to create a mini greenhouse. Place on a sunny windowsill. Remove the plastic bag as soon as seedlings appear.

Container size: at least 30cm in diameter

Recommended varieties: ‘Marconi Rosso’, ‘Minibel Orange’, ‘Mohawk’

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Tomatoes

Tomatoes are easy and productive in pots. Choose bush, tumbling or cordon cherry varieties rather than large beefsteak tomatoes, which are tricker and mature later in the year.

How to sow: fill 9cm pots with seed-sowing compost, water well, then place four seeds on the surface of the compost. Sprinkle a light covering of compost over the top and label. Cover with a propagator lid or clear plastic bag held in place with an elastic band to create a mini greenhouse. Place on a sunny windowsill. Remove the plastic bag as soon as seedlings appear.

Container size: dwarf bush and tumblers can be grown in hanging baskets, pots at least 25cm in diameter, or growing bags. Cordons and larger bush varieties need containers at least 30cm wide that will take a stake or support

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Recommended varieties: ‘Totem’, ‘Sungold’, ‘Red Alert’

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Crops that are not suitable for containers

Some crops are not suitable for growing in containers, including celeriac, globe artichoke and asparagus. They’re best grown in the ground, in well-prepared soil.