Les’ Patch column

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With new seed catalogues out now gardeners are thinking about orders.

If space is limited, vegetables grown in containers is the answer but the right varieties need to be chosen.

Most seed catalogues make this easy by suggesting suitable varieties for containers.

For carrots one variety is Atlas, a round type, early maturing and fungal disease resistant.

Also grow the stump rooted carrot Autumn King 2.

This is a large stump-rooted variety that can be left in its soil throughout the winter but covered with straw or fleece.

The dwarf French bean Castandel is a good cropper which stands well on the plant between pickings to give extended cropping.

White Lisbon is a must for spring onions. For onions go for Stuttgarter Stanfield, grown from onion sets.

Onion sets are especially treated for 20 weeks to minimise the plants from bolting to seed. This one is an excellent keeper.

Leeks are easy to grow and ideal for containers. Zermatt is an early baby leek which is harvested from August to November. This can be followed on through the winter with Apollo.

For container growing the cabbage Pixie is ideal as it can be planted close together and a trough is ideal for this.

Boltardy is the beetroot variety to chose.

The broad bean to grow in containers is the Sutton which only grows 18ins (45cm) tall and produces a heavy crop of tender beans.

The variety Kelvedon Wonder is the garden pea to grow, again only 18ins tall. If sown in batches it is possible to have peas throughout summer and autumn.

Now a radish to liven up the salad. Sparkler is the choice here and again and sown in batches will produce a long harvest period.

Tom Thumb is the choice for lettuce.

This is a good choice of vegetables for a grow-your-own project and if sown every three weeks will provide a good length of harvest.

But I cannot stress too much that the most important thing to have handy when growing in containers is garden fleece.

One of the first jobs in the garden for the new year is the winter pruning of wisteria.

Cut back last year’s whippy stems to just two or three buds from the base of each. These will provide the flowering spurs for this year’s blossom.

For the trained standard (mop-head) wisteria, aim to develop a rounded head as you prune. If the head on mature specimens is congested carefully remove some older wood.

As catalogues for young seedlings and plug plants arrive it is tempting to place orders straight away, but some suppliers despatch feeble, tiny plants much too early, making their survival unlikely without specialist equipment.

If placing an early order ask for a despatch date and request a late spring delivery if necessary.

As all gardeners know slugs and snails are a real menace, particularly when growing hostas in your garden.

When growing in pots one tip is to spray the outside of each pot with WD40 which makes it impossible for the slugs to climb up the side.

If already growing hostas in a plot dig up the plants and pot them up and at the same time this is a good opportunity to split the roots as well.

Then bury the pot in the ground leaving a couple of inches above the soil level and grease the rim with Vaseline and put some grit around the plant itself.