As we are settling into the cool autumn months and the nights are drawing in quickly it would be easy to think that it is not the right time for sowing seeds but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many things we can sow now to get a head start on next year and even some things that we can still harvest and enjoy this year!
Growth will be slower than in the height of summer but don’t miss out on a wonderful opportunity to keep growing your own food – if you look after your plants over the cold winter months they will spring into action again next spring and reward you with some earlier harvests next year. It is important to keep an eye on the weather and if a frost is forecast you may need to cover your crops with some fleece but it is absolutely worth the effort!
Lettuces – Despite the quick drop in temperatures we have seen the last few weeks there is still a window of opportunity to make a final sowing of lettuces this year. You should keep them under a cloche or grow in a greenhouse to help protect them from the winter weather but you will likely get a baby crop in a few weeks followed by an earlier spring harvest.
Oriental Salad Leaves – Add some kick to your winter salads by sowing some oriental salad leaves. Oriental leaves are a welcome change bringing with them a peppery and sometimes spicy kick and really changing the flavour profile to become the stars of the show. Mizunas, Chinese mustards and Tat soi are all perfect additions to your salad garden and are frost hardy. Don’t forget the Pak choi which can also be enjoyed as a salad leaf.
Spinach – Jam packed full of nutrients spinach should always be on your grow list in our opinion! It much prefers cooler temperatures to the sky high ones recorded this summer and there is still just enough time to get a final sowing in this month if you hurry. Spinach will need protection from a cloche if you don’t have a greenhouse.
Kale – Sow kale in a greenhouse or polytunnel now and you can expect some baby leaves for a nutritious addition to a stir fry or salad.
Chard – Our October sown chard last year really showed incredible growth this year and gave us lots of tasty leaves from early in the season. We kept ours undercover as the later sowing would not have allowed strong root systems to develop before any harsh winter frosts.
Broad Beans – October and November are the times to get an early sowing of broad beans on their way but you can also sow in spring if you prefer. Broad beans will happily stand over the winter months and give you an earlier crop next year. We still recommend further sowings in the spring next year to enjoy these fabulous crops for as long as possible! We are really excited to be stocking broad bean seeds this year so if you can hang on a few more weeks, we will have them live on the website as soon as we can!
Radish – As we all know radishes are super quick to grow and you can still sow into autumn to keep enjoying that fresh peppery flavour.
Cauliflower – Our cauliflower ‘snowball’ is a great variety for sowing now. Sow in cells or pots and overwinter in the greenhouse or cold frame ready for planting in the spring.
Onion sets – if you aren’t overwintering onions from seed then now is the time to start thinking about your autumn onion sets and getting them started.
Garlic – If you are planning on some autumn sown garlic then you can start planting your cloves into pots or modules now so their root systems can develop before winter dormancy. They will then get off to a flying start in the spring when you can plant them into their final growing positions.
Flowers – Of course no garden would be complete without some gorgeous flowers to for both you and the beneficial insects to enjoy so whilst there is an endless list of things to be sown now here are just a few of our favourites!
Nigella – The beautiful nigella flowers are adored by the bees and we love them in flower arrangements. Even their seed pods are stunning in an arrangement. Sow in the autumn but again they can be sown in the spring if you run out of time
Calendula – A ‘jack of all trades’! Calendula makes a truly wonderful flower; its leaves are edible and the plant has amazing healing properties so it is often used in homemade salves and balms. Sow early in the month for earlier flowers next year. It will need protection over winter.
Sweet Peas – Who doesn’t love the scent of a vase full of sweet peas? Whilst you can sow in spring or autumn an autumn sowing will allow the plant to develop a stronger root system over winter which will result in more robust flowering stems. Start sowing your sweet peas in pots towards the end of this month and into next and keep them protected over winter. Keep an eye on our shop as we will have a stock of these in the coming weeks!
We hope this has given you lots of ideas of things to sow now. Of course, no one knows what temperatures we will experience in the coming months, it could be a mild winter, it could be a harsh one. Our advice is always to have a go and see what happens…. just because a seed packet says sow until September doesn’t mean you can’t have a go in October! The change in temperature is gradual and not an overnight change at the end of a month, although I have to admit it does feel like an overnight change sometimes! Location also plays a part. We try and keep our seed packets simple for this reason referring to only the season as much as we can to allow you to use your judgement. You might only get baby veg but this is not a failure! You would pay a lot of money for baby veg in a restaurant!