At Green Squirrel HQ we have a bad habit: By the time February comes round we are itching to get growing so we have a wild seed-sowing binge and run out of space on our windowsills. We’ll keep sowing here and there between March and June but by midsummer the garden looks so busy and green that we tend to get distracted and forget to keep dipping into our store of seeds.
The result? Everything is ready to pick at the same time (and we risk wasting it as we can’t eat it all!) then our garden suddenly stops being productive. This year we’re really trying to break this habit and keep sowing every month, looking ahead to the autumn, winter, and next spring. Want to join us? Here are three things to get growing right now.
Salad and greens
Salad leaves and lettuces sown now will be ready to pick in early autumn and will keep producing leaves into the winter, giving you some welcome green on your plate as the weather gets colder.
Rocket can be sown in August for an autumn crop, and another in the spring when the weather begins to warm up; it will appreciate a bit of shade for the remainder of the summer and some frost protection – fleece or a cold frame – to get it through the coldest bits of winter. You can also keep sowing it indoors in trays on the windowsill, or take a look at our tetrapack salad planter demo.
Mustard greens like mizuna and tatsoi sown now will have no problem with very cold weather, and chard and perpetual spinach sown now will be one of the earliest sources of greens in the garden when spring arrives.
Spring cabbage sown indoors now can be planted out after about 4 weeks and will overwinter nicely, ready to enjoy as early as March (as looser spring greens) or in April/ May (as proper full cabbages). On mild winter days keep an eye out for slugs making a beeline (slug-line?) for your baby cabbages though, as they can wipe them out horribly quick. We’re growing Wheeler’s Imperial this year.
Winter varieties of head lettuce are surprisingly robust and can often handle sitting in full snow with no complaints. We usually grow Arctic King but we’re giving Jack Ice and Winter Marvel a try this year.
All of these can be sown in pots or containers, which has the advantage of making it easy to move them somewhere more sheltered or protect them from frost.
Give yourself the gift of late spring and early summer flowers next year by sowing some now and giving them a headstart.
Calendula is very easy to grow and the flowers are edible and good in tea. Our absolute favourite variety is called Flashback; calendula close up at night and this variety have beautiful shimmery undersides to their petals so they’re as pretty closed up as they are open.
There’s still time to sow summer radishes as they grow so fast and you’ll get a crop before the end of summer. We had an unsuccessful attempt at radishes earlier this year – we sowed mystery seeds from a seed swap – but although the actual radish roots were so small and sad as to be inedible, they’re happily putting out leaves and flowers so we’ve left the rest of the crop there to form seed pods which we’ll pickle. We’ll be sowing some more this weekend in a shadier spot.
However you can also sow radishes now for winter cropping – you’ll need to look for varieties that can withstand the cold weather, such as mooli or icicle, but they’ll be ready from November and can be pulled as needed, as they’re able to stay in the ground without going woody for much longer in the cold weather.
You can definitely grow radishes in pots but give them plenty of space, as they don’t like to be crowded, and for long winter varieties choose a nice deep pot.
What are your favourite things to sow at this time of year? Let us know in the comments or send us a picture on social media at @bemoresquirrel.
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