Autumn is a great time for seed sowing and fresh new vegetables can still be grown in your garden and harvested this year if you plant in September.
Under the Plan, it Plant it this Autumn campaign, the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is advising consumers that you can continue to grow your own food in autumn and through to winter by sowing autumn vegetables and salad crop.
The ideal time for planting is September through to October to get the Christmas crop. At this time, the temperature is still relatively warm and the soil is full of moisture making ideal conditions for growing. Many retailers and mail order companies are still selling vegetables seeds that if sown now, can be harvested during the festive period.
Seed potatoes are also readily available for autumn planting and can be planted straight away into soil without chitting. First and second early varieties potatoes such as Maris Peer and Charlotte take approximately 12 weeks from planting to cropping so planting in September is ideal.
Home grown carrots have delicious sweet taste and like potatoes, seed to harvest is approximately 12 weeks. Varieties such as “Chantenay Red Cored” or “Autumn King” are quick and easy to grow in both beds and containers. If a hard frost threatens, protect your carrot crop with heavy mulch.
Other root vegetables such as turnips thrive in the autumn months. Varieties such as “Purple Top Milan” can be planted approximately 4-6 weeks before the first frost. It is very quick maturing and can be harvested just 8 weeks from sowing. Beetroot is also a quick growing vegetable and can be sown from seed in the autumn. They are suitable to grow in cooler climes and require very little maintenance once in the ground. Once planted in autumn, they can be harvested in approximately 8 weeks.
Garlic can also be grown in the autumn, planting now increases the chance of developing decent bulbs before Christmas. There are a wide selection to choose from including hard neck varieties such as ‘Chesnok Red’, “Elephant Garlic” and “Carcassonne Wight” and soft neck varieties like ‘Avignon Wight’, ‘Albigensian Wight’ and ‘Wight Christo’ Bulbs are readily available from garden centres and mail order companies from September onwards.
There are quite a few varieties of onions that can be planted in the autumn. This is the most popular time to grow onions, and they can be harvested earlier on in the next year. Onion sets such as “Electric”, “Troy “and “Shakespeare” are highly reliable winter onions to plant.
Spring onions can also be planted now. “White Lisbon Winter Hardy” is the most popular variety to plant. Shallots such as “Jermor”, “Yellow Moon” and “Griselle” are best planted October to mid December.
Broad beans can be autumn sown. Overwintering varieties such as “Aquadulce” and “Luz de Otono” will give an early crop next summer.
Asparagus varieties are now available in garden centres for autumn planting such as “Ariane”, “Gijnlim” and “Purple Pacific”. Although you won’t be able to cut them for the first couple of years, they should crop for over 15 years in the long run.
Peas and pea shoots can be planted in autumn for a late spring crop, especially in mild areas. Varieties such as “Douce Provence”, “Pea Shoots Twinkle” are perfect for the overwintering crop.
Not only can you grow vegetables during the autumn months, salads can be grown for a late Indian summer and leaves can be harvested in October/November. ‘Winter Salad Cut & Come Again Mix’, made up of chard, lettuce and wild rocket, can be picked continuously throughout winter and is Ideal for salads or stir-fries. The plants will continue to grow and produce leaves even after several cuttings, thus assuring a constant supply over the autumn and winter months.