Autumn sowing tips
We’re on the road into winter, but there’s still plenty to produce for your kitchen.
Sow kale directly.
Give it an open site in fertile, well-drained, but moisture- retentive soil. Kale doesn’t like acidity, so add lime before planting if necessary. The more compost or aged manure you can incorporate into the soil, the better. The less fertile the soil, the more bitter the leaves.
Make an all-purpose insecticide from homegrown plants.
Place equal quantities of chopped mint, onion, garlic and lavender (a natural insecticide) flowers and stems in a bucket of water. Leave for 24 hours, strain, then spray on plants.
Dig up the last of your potatoes.
If there’s any hint of disease in your patch, throw the foliage in the bin rather than the compost to prevent disease spreading. Bring the spuds to the surface and leave exposed for a few hours. Don’t leave them out overnight or slugs and snails will have a field day. Place in thick paper or hessian sacks and store in a cool spot. Be careful not to bruise potatoes when harvesting as this encourages rot to develop.
Sow mesclun, rocket, corn salad, spinach and Asian greens (mizuna, mibuna and giant red mustard). All are cold-hardy, but if frosts come early in your area, sow in pots that can be positioned in a warm, sheltered spot, or use a cloche.
Plant a green manure crop in your vacant potato patch.
Green manures are dug into the ground before flowering to return nutrients to the soil. Mustard is ideal following potatoes. It’s quick growing and can be turned into the soil in July or August, giving it time to decompose (5-6 weeks) and enrich the soil before spring planting begins. Mustard is a brassica so avoid following it with other brassicas.
Sow seeds of carrots, beetroot, radishes and spring onions.