Veg to sow and plant now – but be quick!Posted By: rocket veg Category: Seasonal Tips
September marks the start of the allotment year and while the remains of summer crops are being cleared and the ground weeded and prepared for next spring, now is a good time to sow vegetable seed which will provide you with a steady supply of ‘leaves and greens’ throughout the coming months. There’s a short window between now and the end of September when cooler temperatures and shorter days are surprisingly good conditions for germinating a variety of crops, so here are a few suggestions to spur you into action.
…should cope well with the onslaught of winter and provide fresh leaves right through till spring. Some varieties to try: ‘Chinese Natsuki F1’, ‘Bright and Spicy’ and ‘Oriental Mixed’.
Lettuce, radish and spinach
Usually thought of as a summer crop, some varieties of lettuce thrive in colder weather – the aptly named ‘Arctic King’, ‘All Year Round’ and ‘Winter Gem’ in particular.
Radishes, too, can also be sown now for autumn and winter picking and are speedy germinators. If you are quick, sow a row of ‘China Rose’, ‘Flamboyant 3’ or ‘Caro’; likewise spinach ‘Mediana’, ‘Tetona F1’ or ‘Apollo’. Best of all, sow ‘Perpetual’, a leaf beet masquerading as spinach, dead easy to grow and guaranteed to crop well throughout the year. If you like salad onions, some varieties can be sown now for a late autumn harvest.
Onions and shallots
These are best sown as sets – immature onions and shallots which will put on growth over the coming months, ready to be harvested next summer. Specific varieties for over-wintering are ‘Senshyu’, ‘Red Electric’ onions and ‘Eschalote Grise’ and ‘Jemor’ (shallots). There’s no need to rush to plant these: any time until the end of October will be fine, unless there’s a real drop in temperature.
Get your vegetables off to a flying start
A few varieties of peas and broad beans can also be sown from now until the end of October, ready for harvesting in late spring and early summer. ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ broad beans, big seeds – so easy to sow and reliable when it comes to germination - will develop into sturdy little plants which should withstand all but the worst of winter weather and then complete their growing when warmer weather comes in spring. If you sow peas, take precautions to cover them or you might find that pesky mice will dig them up for an autumn treat! Peas for sowing from now till the end of November are rounded, rather than wrinkled, in appearance, two tried and trusted varieties being ‘Meteor’ and ‘Kelvedon Glory’.
Good preparation pays off
Before sowing your seed, prepare the patch of ground in the usual way – a good raking to break up larger lumps of soil and remove stones and other debris and create a fine tilth. Onion and shallot sets and garlic bulbs will benefit from being planted in soil which has been given a top dressing of well-rotted manure or compost. It’s fun making a start at this time of year as sight of the tiny plants during the cold, dark days of winter is always heartening and gives promise of warmer days to come.