Friday, October 14, 2011

There’s Still Time To Start an Autumn Vegetable Garden.

It’s October already – but a week or so back, it still felt like summer – great! If you’re new to growing vegetables, or perhaps you’ve just moved house, you might think it’s too late to think about planting vegetables, and that you need to wait until next spring. But actually, there are a range of interesting vegetables that you can start right now for harvest during winter and spring.

Perennial Kale – This is an unusual vegetable that will add interest to both salads and cooked winter dishes. It’s also highly nutritious, very hardly and lasts all year round – so ideal for beginning gardeners. A winner, then. Sow now, and you’ll have ready-to-eat-leaves within 30 days.  It’s also an ideal time to bed in young plants or seedlings rather than the seeds themselves. Kale needs plenty of moisture- so regular watering is important if it’s warm. It can survive temperatures as low as -7C, so it can weather most UK frosts.

Garlic – Growing your own garlic is fab as you get to benefit from all stages of the plant – leaves as well as bulbs. Plant cloves in November, and harvest in May next year. It’s best to get cloves from a garden centre or other seed merchant – you’ll have an easier time growing it than if you use garlic from the supermarket. 
Purple Sprouting Broccoli- Another unusual vegetable to interest your dinner guests. It’s really more like asparagus than broccoli. More tender and delicate in flavour than the usual type, purple sprouting broccoli is nonetheless a hardy variety that will grow through the colder months. Sow seeds or plant mature plants at this time of year. Plants grown from seed will be ready in spring.

Brussels Sprouts – Grow your own in time for Christmas. Bed in the young plants now, and your sprouts will be ready for December.  Seeds sown now will be ready in January – so a little late but still a very tasty home-grown vegetable. Try the sprouts roasted rather than boiled to experience their full flavour potential.  Brussels sprouts need rich soil and a sheltered area.

Broad Beans – A home gardener’s favourite, broad beans straight from the vine are sweet and delicious either raw or steamed. You even eat the “tops” (leaves from the tops of the plants) gently steamed and with a little butter melted over them. Good broad bean varieties to start in autumn include Aquadulce Claudia 
Super Aquadulce. Sow in October for a spring harvest. 

As well as adding visual interest to your garden and flavour to your plate all year round, growing these vegetables over winter will prevent leaving soil fallow, and hence keeping it packed with nutrients for great growing all year round. Happy autumn gardening! 

We hope you found our guide useful and would love to hear any additional ideas or tips via the comments section. 

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