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Sow carrots and beetroot in containers in spring for a quick harvest of tender, tasty baby roots – simply pull, trim and rinse them, and cook them whole
Put the containers in a sunny spot, and keep the surface of the compost moist. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, pull out unwanted ones to give the rest enough space (they won’t swell out if they are too crowded)*. As the plants grow, they will need more water – daily if the weather is dry. Don’t let the compost dry out.
* Did you find several beetroot seedlings emerging in one place? This is because the ‘seeds’ are actually several seeds clustered together in a corky case. Add the thinned-out beetroot leaves to your salads.
Start harvesting as soon as the crops reach edible size - golfball-sized beetroot, and finger-thick carrots*, pencil-thin (or thinner) spring onions. Pull intermediate plants first, so the ones left can grow larger.
* Did you find rusty-coloured tunnels in your carrots? These are caused by the maggots of the carrot fly. If you make another sowing, cover the container with horticultural fleece to keep the egg-laying flies out, or put it up on a table: carrot flies are poor fliers and will not usually get up that high.
Dwarf French beans will grow in bucket-sized pots or large boxes; climbing French beans and runner beans need very large containers at least 45cm (18in) deep. Cover the seedlings with fleece if frost threatens.
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Find out what to do this month on your edible plot.
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Plant a container: winter salad leaves
Plant a container: colourful chard
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Plant a container: baby salad leaves
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.