As lovely as this time of year is, there is no doubt that your vegetable growing will be close to peaking and perhaps in some areas be on the decline. Rather than leaving the fun of growing your own until next year, it’s time to add to what you already have and start some crops from fresh. Even if you’ve missed the boat totally and never actually planted anything this year, there’s still time to grow some tasty home-grown vegetable and herbs.
These brightly coloured plants create an attractive display as well as tasty food. ‘Bright Lights’ is the wackiest, with bright yellow, orange, red, pink and purple stems. It can be sown successfully into August and can be used as ‘baby leaves’ for salads or as an alternative to spinach.
Several of the oriental vegetables respond especially well to later sowing, Mizuna being a favourite. With its pretty divided leaves and ability to grow very fast, it can be sown from now and into September. A covering of fleece helps to keep the flea beetle away.
These grow rapidly and although it is getting late, a prompt sowing now should still give you a crop of tiny spring onions in October. Sow enough to leave some in the soil, so you can then harvest full-sized versions in March.
Some varieties of ‘maincrop’ carrot including ‘Ideal’ can still be sown until early August. Sow within the week and you’ll be cropping from autumn to Christmas time. Choose a light soil, free from stones, or grow in a deep container.
These are perfect in salads and sandwiches and are tastier and more tender (and a lot cheaper) than those you buy in cellophane bags. Make successional sowings from now and into September and in five to six weeks you can harvest the baby leaves. If you like full-sized spinach leaves for cooking, then just leave the crop in the ground and allow it to grow a little more.
Another late-season stalwart, it is one of the fastest growers and perfect for anyone who wants a delicate steamed vegetable or a wonderfully tasty and crunchy addition to a Chinese-style meal. Also known as Chinese leaves, if you sow promptly you should be harvesting in late October.
Grown at home, these are so much better than the supermarket’s offerings. A speedy sowing now should produce plenty of beans that you can harvest in mid-autumn. Choose a variety such as ‘Tendergreen’ and it should perform well.
There are numerous different colours and shapes of salad leaf available and they can be sown now, either singly or in combination. Simply use scissors to snip off what you need and, provided you don’t cut too low, they’ll act as a cut-and-come-again crop. Look out for mixed seed packs including all sorts of tasty varieties such as rocket, baby beet, lettuce and basil.
There…almost too much to eat!