Even the tiniest spaces can produce great-tasting veg and one of the easiest ways to do it is by growing crops in pots.
With the days longer and warmer, May’s the perfect time to start sowing vegetables outdoors. Expect them to grow quickly, and with some crops, such as salad leaves and radishes, you’ll be rewarded with a harvest in less than a month. If you’ve sown seeds indoors, you can now begin the process of hardening them off.
Discover which container crops to sow in May, for delicious pickings in small spaces, below.
Rocket leaves ready to pick
Rocket is a quick-growing crop that takes up little space. Frequent pickings will encourage new growth. Rocket can be attacked by flea beetle, which makes holes in the leaves – to protect, cover the pot with a layer of fine mesh.
Pot: Rocket needs a container at least 15cm deep. Grow in wooden crates, window boxes or growing bags.
Recommended: ‘Serrata’, ‘Dentellata’, ‘Green Brigade’.
An attractive annual herb, dill has delicate, feathery foliage and is easy to grow from seed. Choose a compact variety and you can grow it on your windowsill. Dill can be added to salads, and is ideal with fish and eggs. Try the acid-green flowers, too, which are popular in Scandinavian cooking.
Pot: Grow dill in a pot at least 15cm wide.
Recommended: ‘Bouquet’, ‘Diana’.
Easy to grow, this vegetable produces a steady stream of fruits over a period of at least three months. Grow compact, bush varieties rather than trailing types. Courgettes are hungry and thirsty plants, so the bigger the pot the better.
Pot: One courgette plant needs a pot at least 45cm wide and deep.
Recommended: ‘Patio Star’, ‘Piccolo, ‘Eight Ball’.
Edible and ornamental, nasturtiums are versatile plants for container growing. The leaves and flowers can be eaten, imparting a peppery kick, and you can pickle the fresh seeds for a homegrown version of capers. Grow a climbing variety up a support of tall canes or choose a compact type. They’re also useful companion plants to grow.
Pot: Grow in a container at least 30cm wide and 20cm deep.
Recommended: ‘Alaska’, ‘Milkmaid’ and ‘Black Velvet’.
Cucumber is a productive plant for pots. Choose outdoor varieties, which will crop in cooler temperatures. Grow in a long, deep planter and attach net or a trellis panel to the back to provide support or grow in individual pots with canes. Alternatively, choose a low-growing bush variety.
Pot: A pot at least 25cm deep.
Recommended: ‘La Diva’, ‘Bush Champion’, ‘Miniature White’.
A highly productive and attractive crop, easily grown in containers. Dwarf varieties will grow to 30cm and require little support. Taller varieties need larger pots but produce bigger harvests. Support climbing beans with a teepee of canes.
Pot: Grow dwarf varieties in pots at least 20cm deep. Taller varieties need a minimum depth of 30cm.
Recommended: ‘Purple Teepee’ (dwarf), ‘Hildora’ (dwarf), ‘Blue Lake’ (climbing).
A vigorous plant, but it is possible to grow in containers. Choose drought-tolerant varieties or the dwarf ‘Hestia’. Runner beans need lots of water, so try growing in a container with its own water reservoir, or set up an automatic watering system.
Pot: Grow tall varieties in large, deep containers at least 50cm × 50cm. ‘Hestia’ needs a pot at least 30cm × 30cm.
Recommended: ‘Hestia’ (dwarf), ‘Desiree’ (climbing), ‘White Lady’ (climbing).
Basil loves heat and sunshine, making it perfect for a windowsill, greenhouse or a sheltered spot. A great companion plant for tomatoes, the pungent leaves help keep away whitefly. Try sowing basil in the same pot as tomatoes – if the compost dries out, the basil will wilt before the tomatoes, acting as an early warning signal. Here are five ways to keep herbs productive.
Pot: Grow in a pot at least 15cm wide.
Recommended: ‘Crimson King’, ‘Minette’, ‘Sweet Genovese’.
Kohlrabi is a weird-looking but delicious vegetable that is not widely grown. It is quick-growing and reaches maturity in just a couple of months. Pale green or choose a purple variety for its stunning colour. Pick no bigger than tennis ball-sized and use raw in salads or cook like turnips.
Pot: Grow four plants in a pot 35cm wide.
Recommended: ‘Quickstar’, ‘Lanro’, ‘F1 Ballot’.