It’s not too late to plant cabbages and leeksPosted By: rocket veg Category: Growing Veg, Seasonal Tips
I harvested my borlotti beans last weekend, the pods, hanging from dead stems, looking very sad and sorry with little evidence now of the blaze of colour they showed a few weeks ago – hence the name of this variety, ‘Lingua de Fuoco’ (tongues of fire). The pods are now drying off in newspaper-lined trays in my greenhouse for shelling in a week or two, the shiny mottled beans to be stored ready for inclusion in a hearty winter casserole. Harvesting beans is a reminder that summer is finally over, autumn here and winter just round the corner.
Although the allotment year may be drawing to a close, it’s not too late to get planting for a crop in the new year – cabbages and lettuces being good examples of vegetables which you can get going now.
Brassicas to plant now
Brassicas are tough plants, well capable of withstanding the worst that winter can throw at them. Planted now, the roots set deep in soil level with the first leaf, then firmed well and watered in, the little plants will soon establish themselves, make surprising growth and reward you will good eating later in the winter. If you haven’t got any cabbages growing at the moment and have a patch of empty ground (whose allotment hasn’t at this time of year…) try planting Kale - ‘Dwarf Green Curled’ or ‘Black Tuscany’, the names providing an apt description of the resulting crop. I’ve just put in a few small Purple Sprouting Broccoli plants, a bit late I know, but all being well I should get a crop of delicious spears in late spring. Like all brassicas, make sure that your plants are covered with netting to prevent those pigeons having a winter feast.
Lettuce for winter meals
Lettuce is usually regarded as a summer crop, an essential ingredient of a good salad dish, but there are several varieties of lettuce which can be planted now and will stand up to cold weather. ‘All Year Round’ fits the bill, as do ‘Arctic King’ and ‘Winter Gem’ – open leaf and cos types to suit all tastes. Once planted, all three varieties should survive well in open ground so no need for cloches and the like.
If you can get hold of any leek seedlings, it’s not too late to get these going – a hole for each plant ‘dibbed’ in the soil and the plants then watered in so that the earth is washed over the thread-like roots. Given a few weeks mild weather and a bit of luck, the baby leeks should fill out and provide another tasty crop next spring.