Get in on the act: if you don’t grow veg in the open ground, try using containers. Why not enjoy tasty fresh produce even when your garden is only big enough for two or three large planters?

Planters come in every possible shape and size, from window boxes to magnificent oak whisky barrels. And if you’re a handyperson, you could construct your own.

As with potager garden designs, veg in planters can look every bit as good as ornamentals. In Switzerland, I was delighted to visit Ouchy, Lausanne’s Lake Geneva port. Ouchy was one of the earliest councils to display veg in plantings adorning the lakeside walk. In some arrangements, tall French beans, with bi-coloured flowers and green, red and yellow pods, took centre-stage. Fine, almost statuesque rainbow chard featured, with red and green lettuces and dwarf beans defining the edges. Parsley offered different leaf texture with strawberries elegantly draping over the perimeter.

Among all the planting options, tomatoes usually feature on our must-have lists. We always plant them outdoors later in Scotland than elsewhere and we have a good choice and fast-growing bush varieties are often a safer bet. They can include Tom Thumb with mouth-watering little cherry tomatoes or larger cordon varieties like pale red Tigerella with yellow stripes or darker red Crimson Crush. Its blight resistance is a major asset when growing outdoors. Courgettes are another easy crop to grow and reward you with a bounteous harvest.

Many varieties have been developed with containers in mind. By and large, do avoid nutrient-hungry brassicas. One possible exception is kale as each plant produces a bounty of leaves, even if, like its stablemates, it, needs good soil and space.

Just as we want ornamentals to flower over a long period, vegetables should grow and harvest for many weeks. This obviates the risk of unsightly gaps.

Planters must be at least 30cm deep, preferably 45cm-plus, to allow for decent root growth, at least 45cm wide and whatever length you want. This will take a lot of compost. Undoubtedly home-made compost beats any proprietary brand hands down but you’re unlikely to have anything like enough. Mix in any that you do have with the bought stuff and any leaf-mould will help add structure.

Regular watering is essential, even during wet weather as little rain will penetrate a pot’s leaf cover. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, checking by sticking a finger into the compost. Some crops like tomatoes can need at least daily watering, many others every other day. Commercial composts are nutritious for two to three months, so planters then need fortnightly feeding. Organic liquid comfrey, the best feed, is now readily available and Miracle-gro Performance Organic multi-purpose liquid feed is a good all-rounder. I find liquid seaweed is also well worth using.

Plant of the week:

Lettuce ‘Deer Tongue’ has a green and a red form. Grow both and make patterns with plantings in your container. The long, narrow leaves can be picked singly or the whole plant harvested; they have a good nutty flavour and crisp texture. Deer Tongue lettuces stand up well to cold and rain and are very slow to bolt even when the weather turns warm and dry.