What to sow or plant in September - it's not too late! I have included below some good things to sow or plant out as vegetable seedlings in September. Most of the varieties mentioned are available as seed or as seedling plants on our website, any varieties mentioned below which are past their sowing date are available as seedling plants.Autumn/Winter growing is dependent on the weather and unless you are growing in a polytunnel all growth will stop around mid November no matter what. True overwintering plants like garlic, spring cabbage and overwintering onions will put some growth down before November but will then lie dormant until growth resumes in the Spring. Autumn plants like turnip Tokyo cross or autumn lettuce are planted now for crops before it gets too cold, they are the last hurrah of the season. If you don't have a polytunnel you can still extend your season somewhat by using polythene cloches or mini polytunnels placed on your soil or attached to raised beds, I have included links for these below.
Hardy oriental salads Early September is the best time to sow hardy oriental salads such as rocket, Mizuna, leaf mustard and pak choi. These greens prefer the cooler temperatures at this time of year and the shorter days which makes them far less likely to bolt. Oriental greens will also survive much colder temperatures (even frost) so will provide salad leaves until mid November outdoors and will overwinter happily in a tunnel or greenhouse.
Other Winter Salads The Winter salads Claytonia and Corn Salad are also cold tolerant and will produce fresh greens for a surprisingly long time. The plants are likely to survive the Winter outside when they will start to grow again in Spring to give some welcome greens before they are cleared for a follow on crop.
Chard and Perpetual Spinach Chard and Spinach will give leaves before November and will usually survive the Winter and burst back to life in the Spring. Perpetual spinach is more hardy than pink or yellow stemmed chard so a better choice in cold areas. Sowing for outdoor use is best done in August for planting out in September but you still have time to sow in September for the polytunnel.
True Spinach True spinach (annual spinach) is an excellent crop to get in now for some early harvests next April and May. If growing outside it is best to sow before mid August but it can be sown in the tunnel now. I find the Spring leaves from spinach to be the tastiest of the year with the young April leaves being particularly sweet and good. Larger leaves produced in May are better cooked.
Spring Cabbage The juicy leaves of Spring cabbage are very welcome in April and May, it is one of the first 'proper' crops you harvest in the year. The trick is to get the plants large enough to survive the Winter before November but not so large that they start to form hearts. The best sowing date is the end of August for planting out in mid/ late September, the young plant will go dormant over Winter and resume growth in Spring.
Spring Onions Again, an overwintering crop which will be ready in April when sown in late August. I usually see 'White Lisbon' recommended but I use the Japanese bunching onion 'Ishikura Bunching' which overwinters well in my area. Spring onions are best sown or planted in bunches of 8-10 and harvested in one go.
Overwintering onions Over wintering onion sets are planted now for an early onion crop next year. I noticed on a couple of years that they seemed less likely to bolt than my Spring planted sets but I didn't do any proper tests so this may not be consistent. Sets are fun to plant given their easy to handle size and the fact you feel you have already made a start on next years growing.
I always use Growgrid weed suppressant mats (linked in the products at the bottom of the page) for growing onions at any time of the year but this makes even more sense for overwintering varieties as the mat also protects your soil from Winter weather. I usually rake a little blood fish and bone fertlizer and some wood ash into the soil before planting.
Garlic I know we covered garlic a couple of weeks ago but it really is a must for this time of year. Prepare the soil in the same way as for onion above (you can also use a Growgrid mat) and harvest your garlic next Summer, there's nothing else to do. If you would like to watch a quick video on garlic and specifically planting garlic using a Growgrid mat please click on the video image below.
Turnip Tokyo Cross You can grow fast growing turnip tokyo cross for a crop of small and sweet tennis ball sized turnips before it gets too cold in November. Tokyo cross is a very good fast growing white turnip which would need to be sown in August for growing outside but can still be sown directly in the polytunnel until mid September.
Calabrese Broccoli Calabrese can be planted in the polytunnel now and should yield decent sized heads if the Autumn stays reasonable warm. Calabrese is the type of broccoli common in the supermarket (though much tastier if you grow your own) with large green heads, it is much faster growing than sprouting broccoli so can be used later in the season or as a handy filler earlier in the Summer.
Flower Bulbs I know I went into some detail on bulbs last week but I thought they needed another mention this week as they are one of the best Autumn investments you make in the garden. As I said in my last mail you will be delighted with the hour or so you spent planting in Autumn when these wonderful flowers appear by magic in the Spring.
I have also added two beautiful new varieties this week to complement the sultry colour pallet in our range with the subtle yet captivating 'Belle Epoch' (below) and the coppery bronze hues of the scented 'Brown Sugar'. The idea behind our range is that any choice from our select list will blend seamlessly with any other variety in the range, basically you can't go wrong whatever you choose. Our sumptuous collection is on the cutting edge of flower fashion, put them in now and be a style icon next Spring!
Planting bulbs among your vegetables Flower bulbs can be fun to plant in the vegetable garden as they flower and die back relatively early so don't get in the way. The bulbs are planted 10-12 inches deep so unless you are growing root crops they will be below the root zone of most vegetables. If you want to look uber cool and cutting edge put some tulip bulbs in now below next years lettuce bed and let them bloom among your Spring salad leaves, it will look amazing!