Last years potato crop was so successful that we decided to grow them again this year. Potatoes are a very easy vegetable to grow in containers, which is great if you are new to growing and short on space. There is a wide variety of seed potatoes available, with varieties bred especially to grow in containers to unusual heritage varieties.
The phrases First Earlies, Second Earlies and Maincrop refers to the time the potatoes take to reach maturity. First Earlies usually take 10 weeks to grow, Second Earlies 13 weeks, and Maincrop up to 20 weeks.
First Earlies which are also called new potatoes, are the most suitable to grow in small containers. A 10l container (about the size of a large black florist bucket) would be suitable for one seed potato but you can grow maincrop potatoes like we do in bigger tubs. If you have a sheltered sunny spot you can plant First Earlies in March but as plant roots can get cold in containers, we wait till the last frost has passed.
This year we will planting Purple Majesty (maincrop), Kerrs Pink (maincrop), Pink Fir Apple (maincrop), King Edward, (main crop), Epicure (first early) and Kestrel (second Early) which you voted best tasting potato at our Tasting Event
While most of us are looking forward to curling up next to the fire with a seed catalogue, a few hardy growers are still sowing, tending and harvesting. For the beginner, winter growing can be a daunting thought, if one considered at all, but there is plenty of veg that thrives in cooler weather or even relishes a good chill.
Oriental and mustard greens are quite hardy, Mizuna Tatsoi & Miike are all tasty though the Miike is too spicy to eat raw. Cabbages and parsnips both come in container varieties and stand well in winter and there are winter varieties of spring onions and lettuce available.
Don’t forget you still have time to plant garlic and onions both which grow well in containers.
Root vegetables may not be the first vegetables that come to mind when planning an edible container garden but they do surprisingly well. Some of our most used vegetables are root vegetables. Carrots, turnips and potatoes all fall under this loose category. Yields are not as large when compared to vegetables grown in the ground but growing conditions are much easier to manage particularly for the beginner. This year we have grown baby turnips, golden beetroot and of course potatoes which we grew in flexi tubs. Onion, carrots and parsnip also do well or if you’re looking for something a little more unusual try Florence Fennel, Jerusalem Artichokes or Oca.
Courgettes are a member of the Cucurbit family, which includes squash, cucumber and melon.
Next to potatoes these are an easy to grow and prolific vegetable. They don’t freeze satisfactorily but an easy way to preserve any glut is to incorporate them into soups sauces chutneys and cakes which can then be frozen. Here’s a couple of recipes
a large potato
1 l stock veg or chicken
2 tbsp olive oil
salt pepper paprika chilli to taste
gently cook the courgettes & onion in oil until soft
add a pinch of chilli & paprika
add stock, salt and pepper
blend or mash the mixture
and cook on a low heat until the mixture reaches your preferred consistency
allow to cool then freeze
Basic Courgette Cake
225g self raising flour
125ml sunflower oil
a teaspoon baking powder
Grate the courgettes add oil and eggs
Combine dry ingredients and fold in the courgettes oil and egg mixture.
Divide mixture between 2 bread tins
Cook at gas mark 4 for 30 minutes.
Growing alongside the main staple Scarlet Emperor Broad Beans you will find more unusual varieties such as Cosse Violette, Borlotto and Cannellino. Beans differ widely in flavour and colour are very easy to grow in containers and of course delicious to eat.
Cosse Violette are a French heirloom variety with dark purple pods and a delicate flavour. They produce beautiful purple flowers and masses of stringless beans. Being a heirloom variety you can produce your own seed ensuring a self sustaining supply. Allow some pods to mature and dry on the plant before storing them in a cool dry place for sowing next year.