Free veg seeds 2024 – March

Yellow cherry tomatoes

March growing with Rachel

Rachel Bull with her free seeds seedlings
Rachel Bull with her free seeds seedlings

Clumps of crocus provide splashes of colour throughout the garden, daffodils are waking from their slumber and the chickens are even considering laying us eggs for breakfast again. Arguably better still, seed sowing season is upon us and in a few weeks the windowsills will be overflowing. From experience, it’s easy to get carried away and sow the entire contents of your seed tin, but March weather can still provide some cold nights, or even snow, so proceed with caution!

I’ve been growing vegetables and flowers across our garden and allotment for 15 years, and this year I’m growing the free edible seeds that come with Gardeners’ World Magazine. I’ll be sharing my advice and growing notes with you every month.

  • Click here for details of which seeds you can look forward to receiving when.
  • Get growing advice now, for all 12 packs of free seeds.
  • Check out flower grower Cel Robertson’s top tips for your March free flower seeds

Homegrown tomatoes plucked straight from the vine are infinitely sweeter than any shop-bought tomato, and ‘Sun Baby’ has just the right amount of acidity, making it a must-grow for summer salads. It’s a bright yellow cherry tomato that the little hands in our family can’t resist picking, and it will grow around 50 fruits per truss. What I love about this variety is that it will happily grow outdoors rather than needing a greenhouse, though it grows well there too. I’ve had a good crop from a pot on our patio, so it’s extremely versatile.

Sow with me

Sowing tomato seeds
Sow tomato seeds into small pots and then prick the seedlings out once germinated

To start the seeds off, I’ll sow around 10 seeds in a 10cm pot which is filled with peat-free multipurpose compost. You could also reuse a clean yoghurt pot or a cardboard cup, so you can write the variety on the side – just make sure to add some holes for drainage.

I’ll cover with a thin layer of sieved compost and water gently. Tomato seeds germinate best if you can keep the soil moist, but be careful not to drown them. I recommend watering them well when you sow them and then checking daily. Though if you’re anything like me you’ll check multiple times a day to begin with, to see if anything has happened! They’ll need to be kept in a warm place, preferably between 15-20°C degrees, and they should germinate in around a week.

Pricking out tomato seedlings
Pricking out tomato seedlings into individual pots

Once the seedlings have emerged, pop them in a sunny place and check they don’t dry out. A windowsill will work well, however due to limited space in our house, I’ll be using a heated propagator in the greenhouse to keep them warm. I’ll grow them on like this, before potting the plants on to bigger, individual pots in around four weeks’ time.

My top tip for young plants

My top tip is don’t be tempted to pot young plants on to giant containers, but just a slightly larger growing space – to allow a strong root system to establish for healthier plants.

Rocket update

Rocket seedlings
Rachel’s rocket seedlings germinated almost too well, and need thinning out to avoid damping off

In the greenhouse, the rocket I sowed at the end of January is growing well in the module tray – however I definitely over-sowed a few modules in my enthusiasm! I’ll be thinning each module out and reducing to two or three seedlings so they can grow on, and I’ll plant these out directly at the allotment. Rocket has a long ‘tap root’ – a large main root from which other little roots sprout, and as a result doesn’t like having its roots disturbed. I’ll thin the seedlings very carefully as required, and the hens will happily gobble up any extras.

I’ll slowly harden the seedlings off with a view to planting them outside in April, hopefully when the nighttime temperatures are slightly warmer. Over the next few weeks I’ll be preparing the allotment bed they’ll grow in by topping it up with homemade compost, but you could grow in any container outside. The basil seeds sown last month are just starting to peek through on the windowsill – here’s to tomato and basil salads all summer long!



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