Les’s Patch column

Les Foden.
Les Foden.

One method of growing vegetables that is becoming more popular is growing in containers.

Plan crops carefully to make sure of a long cropping season and a lush colourful container display at all times of the year.

From radishes and lettuce in the spring, courgettes and tomatoes in the summer and leeks and kale in the winter, it is possible to have fresh produce on the table all year round.

One of the best advantages of growing vegetables in containers is that they can be moved into the sun or shade, from indoors to outdoors, or from an exposed position to a sheltered one.

Most productive plants require full sun for at least part of the day, but it’s best to consider the needs of different crops because while sun traps are ideal for ripening fruit they cause leafy plants to wilt and increase the need for watering.

Winds can also cause problems by drying out compost, damaging plants and blowing containers over.

Grow a wide range of fruit and vegetables and have young plants available to replace those that are no longer productive.

This is not difficult to achieve with a little planning and by growing some plants indoors or under cloches outside.

Planning ahead is the answer to success if wanting a continuous crop over a long season. Decide what you want to eat and when those plants can be sown and harvested.

Select crops that will keep the garden full and the family fed throughout the year.

Try to mix plants that crop over a long season like courgettes, perennial herbs and Swiss chard, then combine these with quick croppers such as radishes and salad leaves that mature in a matter of weeks and can be sown every fortnight to fill gaps around crops that take longer to mature.

Most seed is sown in spring, but any harvests at this time of year will be from overwintered crops like purple sprouting broccoli.

By late spring sweet new season treats, such as lettuce and beetroot, broad beans and garden peas could be ready from an autumn sowing. Radishes, rhubarb and Swish chard should also be ready to harvest.

Among the easiest to grow is lettuce, ideal for pots where they can be protected from snails and slugs. Spray all containers, whether for vegetables or flowers, with WD40 which will make it impossible for anything to crawl up and eat the crops.

Lettuce are not only delicious when picked fresh from the garden but also make decorative features in pots.