18 August 2014
Sowing for autumn
This morning there was a distinct chill in the air, the swallows
are starting to mass over the tower and plant growth has begun to
slow. The signs that autumn is just around the corner are getting
too numerous to ignore.
I'm something of a learner when it comes to productive gardening and have made a few mistakes already. Luckily the warm weather has been something of a friend to me and has allowed me to grow my way out of a couple of tight spots. Winter however is not at all forgiving so it is essential to start sowing seeds now for the vegetables that will help to brighten up the long dark nights ahead.
If that all sounds a little depressing then it's not supposed to be; I for one love the autumn and winter and I'm looking forward to the change of season with great relish although that doesn't mean I'm not enjoying the summer warmth!
There is a great choice of vegetable plants that can be sown now. Although it's a good time to sow oriental type vegetables such as Mizuna and Pak Choi, the seeds we are sowing at Allt-y-bela have a more European flavour.
Swiss Chard and Perpetual Spinach make great winter greens and will go on through the winter months. Flat Leaf Parsley can be another winter staple. Winter cabbages, Kohl Rabi and Cavolo Nero can all be sown now as well, along with Russian Kale and Rocket.
It's worth remembering too, that it's not too late to get another sowing of lettuce and radish in either.
Amid all of this autumn and winter preparation there is a huge amount of produce coming out of the garden. The climbing french beans 'Cosse Violete' are producing a heavy crop which, for me, is best eaten straight off the vine. There are courgettes to eat up with a fruit being produced almost daily; these are best enjoyed small. It's worth writing down your experiences of abundant food as well as those little things that didn't work quite as well as hoped as you may now be finding that you didn't need quite as many courgette plants as you thought!
The continual sowing of lettuce also pays off, but again it's worth thinking about just how much lettuce you will want at any one time. Lettuces will bolt if not picked in time. There is, however, a cheeky trick I've recently been told about and am trying. If all goes well I will report back soon!
Words: Steve Lannin, Gardener at Allt-y-bela
Photographs: Britt Willoughby Dyer