There is a real autumn feel in the air at the moment and the colouring up of the Manchurian pear and Robinia, makes me realise that autumn is nearly here.

The same is happening in the veggie garden, summer crops are finishing and the cooler air temperature are favouring the growth on those in-between ( autumn and spring ) crop and reminds me I need to get my winter crops in.

The in-between crops I need to sow are Snow peas and English spinach. They do well here in the autumn and spring but it is too cold in the winter and too hot in summer; so I have a very limited window of opportunity to get seed in and growing strongly. Another sowing in a fortnight will see me picking snow peas from May through to the beginning of July. By the middle of July the frosts are so severe they will burn the flowers and prevent pollination and pod formation. The English spinach I can start picking in a month to six weeks and again continue picking till the middle of July.

So they were my first planting last week.

I also popped in my last sowing for the season of carrots, parsnips and beetroot these need to germinate and grow quickly so they are fully grown when the frost begin, then they can stay in the ground all winter where I can pick them as I need them.
Last weekend I also prepared some ground for this year garlic crop – I always try to get them in as soon as I see the wild garlic coming up in the orchard.

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This weekend I need to plants seeds of broccoli, Kale, several varieties of cabbage, cauliflower, Brusselsprouts and leeks. These crops need to be in the ground and grown quickly to ensure they have a large amount of leaf area before the cold weather hits. The larger the plant the larger the crop produced, so weekly liquid feeds of high nitrogen organic fertiliser for the first 6 to 8 weeks of growth will be needed.

I have planted these seeds in well prepared ground in the garden and will transplant them when they are about 10cm high. Growing seedlings in pots can be a bit risky for me at this time of the year, as we are still getting some hot days and if I miss a day’s watering I can lose the crop. The ground does not dry out quite as quickly as a pot sitting on a bench. To make sure the cabbage white moth larvae do not decimate the young seedling I cover them with a frame covered with fly screen mesh.
I will repeat theses planting in another two week to try and stagger harvest. After that however there is not enough good quick growing weather to get large enough plants before the frost start.

In another couple of weeks I will begin my continuous sowing of the quick maturing Asian greens such as Bok choy, tatsoi and Chinese cabbage.

When I am sowing directly into the ground to prevent too much weed competition I prepare the ground by turning it until it is a fine and crumbly then make a furrow and fill this with seed raising mix. I them mulch up to the edges of the furrow, plant the seeds and water well.

I am continuing to plant fortnightly crops of mesculn mix salad greens, spring onion, rocket and coriander. The rocket and coriander appreciate the cooler weather and do not bolt quite so quickly at this time of the year so I can begin to stretch out sowing times and still maintain a decent crop.

A busy time of the year but what gets sown now will see me through the winter with plenty to harvest and autumn is my favourite time of the year to be working in the garden. Bright sunny days, cooler temperatures and usually no wind. What more could a gardener want.

Happy gardening Kathy