… to sow a few seeds before late summer turns into autumn.
Having planted out my winter veg and cleared the last of the peas, I really want something else to look forward to. I remember the first year my friends and I started the veg patch: by the time we were ready to sow anything, it was mid-August. It was a warm month and, not knowing any better, we sowed what we had in our seed boxes. As a reward for our optimism, we were helping ourselves to lettuce leaves before the year end although the beets were small and the spring onions spindly. We protected the crops with fleece over a snowy winter and were eating fresh from the garden in early April. It was a lesson that, strangely, has not been repeated until now.
A couple of weeks ago, a quick trawl through my seed box showed what was possible. I pulled out seeds that could be sown until late July, others that were best sown in August for a late autumn or early spring crop, and even more seeds to be sown in September to germinate ready for next year.
I've sowed ruby chard, two types of spinach, some radishes, rocket, parsley, shimonita onions, some quick growing baby carrots and several rows of lettuce - a butterhead 'Marvel of Four Seasons' and 'Salad Bowl', a cos type. And just in case we have a nice slow decline into winter, some beetroot for baby beets. When I checked today, the warm rain of the past few days has coaxed all of the seeds into life. I'll keep a watch for first frosts and then have to fleece the beds but the plants will be off to a good start by then.
There's also plenty of flowers best sown in the autumn for strong early plants next year. My photo above shows a selection of what I'll be sowing: poppies, hollyhocks, wallflowers, nigella, calendula, honesty. (As well as more tulips.) My spring-sown flowers didn't do well this year and I'm planning for better next year.
My bedtime reading at the moment is Charles Dowding's book 'How to Grow Winter Vegetables'. It's an excellent informative read from a very experienced grower and one that I would recommend for anyone wanting to keep their plot going through the winter months. (I haven't been asked to promote this! It's a book I bought last year and am only just getting round to reading.)
I'm going to prune the plum trees this weekend. Stoned fruit trees need to have any essential pruning done in the summer months, preferably after fruiting. Leaving it much later (as in I should probably have done it already) will leave the pruning wounds vulnerable to possible airborne viruses; doing it now gives the cuts time to heal over before the tree goes into dormancy. I'm going to take a few branches out of the centre to let in light and air, hopefully with better fruiting results next year. And if there's time leftover, I'll be tidying and weeding some space for my next seed sowing session.
Like I said, there's still time to sow. :)