Au­tumn crops to start now

Sow leafy greens in Septem­ber to en­joy three sea­sons of har­vest

Garden Answers (UK) - - Contents -

Early Septem­ber of­fers one last sow­ing hur­rah. The ground is (usu­ally) warm and damp, and emerg­ing seedlings romp away at an as­ton­ish­ing rate. Com­pare this to the end of the month when both tem­per­a­tures and day­light hours have started to tum­ble and you’ll un­der­stand why getting seed in early is cru­cial. Septem­ber sow­ings are all leafy plants, with po­ten­tial har­vests as di­verse as salad rocket, Ori­en­tal greens and co­rian­der ready to bring wel­come green­ery to the ta­ble this au­tumn. To stretch plants through win­ter and on into next spring you’ll need to add pro­tec­tion, us­ing cloches and fleece, once tem­per­a­tures start to fall. Those who are for­tu­nate enough to have a green­house or poly­tun­nel will have plenty of win­ter greens at their fin­ger­tips. Think of these Septem­ber sow­ings as hav­ing three sea­sons: swift pick­ings this au­tumn, a few sparse leaves over the dark­est and cold­est months, and a rush of wel­come early har­vests come spring­time, ef­fec­tively re­mov­ing that awk­ward hun­gry gap be­fore next year’s sow­ings start to earn their keep.

Grow­ing out­side

If you’re with­out a green­house don’t de­spair, but do make sure you look for hardier plants and make use of cloches to stretch the sea­son fur­ther. Where you live, your gar­den’s ex­po­sure and the sort of win­ter you ex­pe­ri­ence will all have a big in­flu­ence on how well plants cope. Clear away any de­bris left from pre­vi­ous crops and spread some com­post over the area be­fore you be­gin sow­ing. If ear­lier crops haven’t been har­vested yet, sow in mod­ules to cre­ate sturdy seedlings ready to plant out in a few weeks’ time. This has the happy re­sult of en­sur­ing plants are big enough to cope with some slug and snail dam­age when they do go out. Af­ter all, your plants won’t be the only ones en­joy­ing the mild, damp Septem­ber con­di­tions!

What to grow?

Start with the most ro­bust and trust­wor­thy of Septem­ber-sown crops. Rocket, spinach, land cress and mizuna are among the most re­li­able and will all bring quick leaves this au­tumn. Add to this the suc­cu­lent, slow­er­grow­ing lamb’s let­tuce (also called corn salad) and a win­ter let­tuce such as ‘Greno­ble Red’ or ‘Win­ter Mar­vel’. Now’s also the time to sow spring cab­bages (spring greens) for their fresh leafy heads next year. Fresh herbs are in­cred­i­bly valu­able over win­ter so ded­i­cate a few lines to co­rian­der, chervil and pars­ley too. Fi­nally, if you’re grow­ing in a more shel­tered site, or have a good num­ber of cloches, then embellish the plant­ing with sum­mer radish, en­dives, leaf mus­tards, ko­mat­suna, spring onions, kale (for baby leaves) and Swiss chard.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.