Get organised by making sure your vegetable beds are packed and prepared now before it turns too chilly. Although it can be easy just to keep out the brisk weather and let your garden run wild, there are actually many benefits to keeping your garden alive through the colder months.
Firstly, it gets you outside in the fresh air and off the sofa! Don’t be a couch potato; go embrace the gentle exercise of gardening and the rewards it brings. Growing vegetables over winter will also give you wonderful home-grown produce, plus the satisfaction of knowing you’ve achieved something rather than getting bored of sitting inside all day.
Make sure you have a cold frame or greenhouse to plant out in, or alternatively sow outside and cover with fleece or perforated polythene. On the plus side of growing over winter, pests are less of a threat as they snuggle up and hibernate in the colder months. However, you shouldn’t forget about them. They can still devastate young seedlings so make sure you keep them out.
Ideal in soup or tossed through a healthy pasta dish, asparagus is held dearly in the heart of many. There are asparagus varieties available at the moment for autumn planting to speed up the process of establishing them. Growing asparagus is often perceived as being hard work. If you make sure the bed is weed-free and everything goes to plan, you may find that you are actually working less than you would on annual vegetable grows. Okay, so yes you do have to wait two years before you can actually cut them. The wait is well worth it when you attain a scrumptious homemade supply of tasty asparagus.
Easy peasy – garlic squeesey. This wins the prize for easiest crop to grow. Garlic is an essential to the majority of complicated recipes. However, for an instant and tasty snackjust rub it over some bread and butter to make instant garlic bread!
When growing your flavorsome garlic simply plant the garlic cloves independently to a depth of 2.5in deep on light soils. If its heavier soils you are working with then plant the cloves a lot less deeper, but with a minimum of one inch below the surface. Remember the distance should always be roughly around one foot apart both ways. Spray with a sulphur-based compound to help reduce and avoid rust.
Broad beans are delicious additions to many comforting meals, and especially work wonderfully with pork. Cook them as a side dish as sautéed garlic broad beans and bacon with coriander. By choosing to autumn-sow your broad beans you allow yourself so much more time than doing it in spring. The soil also works much better as the nutrients won’t leach through the otherwise fallow soil.
The broad beans won’t get black fly and will also be ready to eat a month earlier than if sown in April. Make sure you put in canes or sticks so that the beans won’t grow too tall. If there are no canes and the beans are in an exposed position and grow above a foot, they are at risk of splitting just above the ground level due to waving around. If you find the canes or sticks still don’t supply enough support then use string also.
Popeye’s favourite, Spinach is becoming more and more popular. This versatile vegetable is perfect when just wilted to save the disappointment of overcooking, but also works amazingly in salads as a substitute for lettuce. We now pick it younger than we used to, and the big advantage of autumn sowing is that there is no risk to bolt. Varieties that are best for being sown now until the end of October are Merlo Nero and Riccio d’Asti. Get sowing in your spinach to enjoy the wonders of homemade spinach within your cooking.
Peas & Pea Shoots
If you sow in your pea seeds now they will be ready for your enjoyment just in time for late spring. If you decide to sow your seeds into the ground, make sure you plant them one inch deep and roughly at one inch apart. This will make up for a higher loss rate and ensure you get as many of the scrumptious beauties in spring.
Plant your peas in groups of around three lines all 12in apart to form thick rows. Often with peas people forget that the pea shoots are all delicious. Try picking off the tips and throwing them in with stir-fries to experience the fresh pea flavor. To speed up the sprouting process, place your pea seeds on a dampened kitchen towel on a plate and sow when the root starts to develop.