Last of the Summer Sowing
I’ve posted this list in August for a couple of years now, so if you’ve seen it before, bear with me. This year though there are a lot of new gardeners, curious as to what can be sown just now, who might find this useful.
We’re now at the warmest time of the year. It's hot. Winter may still seem far off, but the great wheel is turning and colder, darker days are coming. Along with lower temperatures come the long nights and shorter daylight hours. There's just less of the sunlight essential for any photosynthesis and plant growth. In the British Isles from about Halloween to the Saint Valentine’s Day (Oct. 31st to Feb. 14) the sun is in the sky for less than 10 hours a day. With the short daylight hours and lower temperatures plant growth slows to a crawl, at best. Over the next twelve weeks the growing season is going to slowly ebb to a close.
There is a bright side to all this gloom, though; if you get the timing right and the winter is kind, crops reaching maturity just before Halloween will rest in dormancy for months, without bolting or going to seed. We can do nothing about the scarcity of sunlight, and little about the lower temperatures; the last of our tender summer crops are doomed to perish in the frosts. But, get the timing right though and your winter hardy crops will grow to maturity just as they reach winter dormancy and sit, preserved in Nature's Own open air fridge, until the spring. All of this means that harvesting veggies from your plot doesn’t have to end as the summer months give way to autumn and winter.
Knowing what to sow, when and what particular varieties are most likely to succeed is half the job when it comes to winter gardening. There is a big rush to sow the last autumn and winter crops in the next few weeks, then it quietens down with just 4 crops to sow in Autumn to overwinter. The exact dates vary with your latitude and local climate, but here is a rough guide of what you can be sowing in the next few weeks.
To sow by mid August: LAST CALL
First early potato varieties (Arran Pilot, Pentland Javelin etc…)
Spring onions (White Lisbon, North Holland Blood Red).
Carrot (Fast maturing fingerling varieties such Amsterdam Forcing, Adelaide, Napoli, Early Nantes and Nantes Frubund).
Spring Cabbage (Durham Early, April, Offenham or Wheeler's Imperial are all good choices).
Leaf Beet (Swiss Chard, Perpetual Spinach).
Spinach (Medania, Giant Winter etc...).
Lettuce, autumn cropping; (Lollo Biondo, Little Gem, Cos varieties)
Lettuce, winter cropping under cover; (Winter Gem, Winter Density, Arctic King).
Lettuce, winter cropping outside; Winter Marvel (This variety only).
Endive (Batavian Queen, Natacha, Cornet de Bourdeaux etc...)
Kohl Rabi (Superscmelz, Lanro F1).
Kale (Red Russian, Nero di Toscana only)
Turnip (Snowball, Albina Verduna, Armand, Purple Top Milan).
To sow before the end of August.
Raddichio (Palla Rossa, Rossa di Verona, Treviso)
Radish (Chinese Rose, Black Spanish)
Winter Purslane, also known as Miner's Lettuce or Claytonia
Onions from seed; (Senshyu Yellow, Keepwell).
Parsley (small supermarket pots can be divided for planting out).
To sow by the end of the first week of September
Land cress, aka. American Cress
Oriental Salad Leaves, Leaf Mustard, any winter mix
Lamb's Lettuce, aka. Corn salad.
Calabrese, to mature in May (Stromboli F1 - This variety only).
Cauliflower, to mature in May. (Snowball - This variety only)
From September to November, Garlic; Germidor, Early Wight
In early October, Onion sets, Shakespeare, Senshyu Yellow (red varieties are more liable to bolt in the spring after overwintering).
In Mid-late October,
Peas (Meteor, Douce Provence, Feltham First).
Cauliflower (All The Year Round under cover, this variety only)
In early November, Broad beans (Aquadulce Claudia).