Lockdown has encouraged thousands of Scots to value our gardens and ‘grow our own’ as never before. Many early plantings are being harvested now but there are lots of new ones to plug the gap.

Choose carefully. However speedily some plug plants or seedlings grow, don’t expect miracles by winter. Down south, longer autumn daylight hours may give you a crop of sprouts for Christmas from July plantings but forget it in this country, whatever catalogues may tell you.

It is also too late for hearting cabbages, caulis, neeps or broccoli are out of the question. Large rooted carrots or parsnips are now the stuff of dreams.

Virtually everything I recommend here can be direct sown at some point over the next few weeks.

Between mail order firms and the newly opened garden centres, pricier plug plants are a simpler alternative to seeds.

Remember to add compost or other organic fertiliser to refresh the ground after the previous crop.

You’ll get excellent results with quick-growing leaf crops. I can’t fault Buttercrunch and Little Gem lettuce. And, to avoid bolting, slower growers such as endive En Cornet de Bordeaux and chicories Palla Rossa and Treviso are best sown now.

As an added bonus, these later sowings develop a striking red colour during the cooler autumn, so you could always fill any gaps at the front of flower beds as well.

And while on flower beds, why not try some wonderfully decorative kales?

Like the lettuce and endive brigade, you can also graze some fresh leaves. The plants will no longer develop fully, but will offer a delicious nibble. I can’t recommend Emerald Ice kale strongly enough. Beautifully frilled white and green leaves with a crisp nutty taste when picked young. You don’t even need to cook them.

Other attractive kales include Red Russian with suitably coloured serrated leaves. The smaller Nero di Toscana variety boast a burgeoning crown of plumply erect foliage.

If like me, you enjoy the tangy, irony flavour of spinach, a sowing of Swiss chard or perpetual spinach, like Erbette, will start producing a small crop by autumn. Although perpetual spinach is too tender to survive the winter, chard should do so.

Grow in a sheltered spot or protect with fleece during a harsh spell and you’ll get a spring flush.

Several quick-growing root crops are the perfect way to fill small corners. Radishes need hardly any space. They’re less fiery when grown in partial shade and watered well. Along with traditional speedy growers, try winter radishes China Rose and Black Spanish Long.

They can be sown next month for an autumn harvest, or lifted and stored for slicing or grating in a winter salad.

And I wouldn’t be without white turnips, these little autumn gems. Sow Milan Purple Top or Snowball next month or in August.

You need to keep an eye on them as they grow pretty fast and I wouldn’t want one bigger than a tennis ball. Direct sow or in modules.

I’m not a beetroot fan, but varieties like Pablo or Bona are still possible. Sow singly as each one produces clusters of seedlings, but don’t thin as the plants will push apart. And when harvesting, remember to eat the turnip and beetroot leaves too.

Leeks are the only other kind of vegetable you might just manage to plant now – if you can get hold of plants immediately.

They won’t reach full size but you will get a crop. For the longer term, in the next 6-8 weeks you can sow or plant some brassica varieties for an April-June harvest: spring cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli and caulis. They’re greedy plants so need well-fertilised ground.

Plant of the week

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sea Shell’. Flowers have luscious pink petals, slightly ruffled and held on sturdy stems that don’t need staking. The rich stamens in single flowers are easily accessible to bees.